I have a confession to make. I love Tarsia and so do my students!

I was introduced to Tarsia during my teacher training and have found that it’s a great way to get students to talk to each other about maths and do much more practice and problem solving then they would if you were to just give them a worksheet to complete.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about Tarsia is a free computer package from Hermitech Laboratory which enables you to create, print, save and share jigsaws, dominos and sort-cards using a really simple, maths friendly interface.

Tarsia Menu Screen – Choose the type of resource that you want to create, the shape that you want to use and the number of questions that you are going to input.

Tarsia input screen – Enter your questions and their corresponding answers. Unless you want to make life really hard for your students I would recommend checking that you don’t have questions which result in the same answers (at least not when you first start trying to get the students to buy into doing these) and when doing algebra ones, make sure that you don’t use a different letter for each question else it’s REALLY easy to complete the jigsaw without actually doing any of the maths!

The Tarsia output screen (what I give to the students to cut out and solve)

The solution screen – a complete lifesaver when you’re trying to check the work of 18 groups of students!

I like to print sets (make sure that you print the output, not the solution page!) on to different coloured card, laminate them and then get the students to cut them out and solve the problem.

Other times I like to print off fresh sets on paper and get the students to stick their solutions onto pieces of A3 to create displays of their work, including scribblings and justifications.

I’m more likely to do this with my A-level students who I’m terribly mean to and give them “extended” jigsaws to create … these have questions without solutions included on the edges as well … gotta make them work for it ;o)

Tarisa really is quick and easy to use and there are hundreds of these jigsaws already created on the web. Mr Barton Maths (see “Which Websites I Actually Use”) has a plethora of these and I am starting to put some of mine up on this blog as well.

Go on, have a go at making a Tarsia – even maths teachers get enthralled at trying to complete them in Departmental meetings …

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