Pumphrey's Math

Patterns, everywhere

Why I love Tarsia

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Apparently it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything you put your mind to, although not everyone agrees. A great pianist, however talented, does not become a virtuoso overnight. What is clear is that to become proficient in mathematics, yes, we need rich tasks and activities to build connections but sometimes you just need to ‘practice the scales.’ Many lessons out there are full of worksheets and textbooks where students can practice the same idea over and over again to their hearts content. The trouble is, this can be so boring for the individual and really demotivating for learning.

I want my mathematics classroom to be a place where students can get the practice they need but not get bored. That is why I love Formulator Tarsia.

Endless questions are boring, but put those questions in the context of group-work (possibly including competition) and suddenly it becomes a project where the task is to build a shape and the students find they are learning by accident. This is the best type of learning.

A download of this crucial program can be found here.

Pre-made files can be found here

I recently made a Tarsia activity for finding common denominators of rational expressions; this can be found here (right click and ‘Save Link As’).


Author: PumphreysMath

A British Math(s) Teacher now living in Indianapolis, USA, aiming to show my students how questions are often more important than answers. Presenter of the MathEd Out Podcast and contributor for the Guardian Teacher Network.

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