I love to create in the math classroom. It’s a great way to connect with students who may not LOVE math but love to create. However, I want the projects we create to enhance their understanding of math, and not just end up an art lesson.
This project, with the addition of a critical thinking discussion, does both. I hold up a few of these pieces of art and walk around the room so students can look at them. They automatically start talking at their tables about what they see.
Then I ask the question, “What type of transformation is represented in this art? Discuss at your table, but be able to support your answer.” I immediately hear “rotation, it’s a rotation!” But as they start to justify to each other they hit a road block. It does’t fit what they know about rotations. Eventually they decide it’s a reflection and provide the necessary justification to support their idea. I love the rich conversations that happen.
Now, I could stop there and my students would have learned, but what fun is that? They want to create one of these art pieces. I already have triangles cut out and ready to go and we discuss a plan to make one of our own. As they are creating, we “remember” that this is a reflection, not a rotation, and discuss how we can achieve this. Students are engaged, they are helping each other, and they are having fun in math.
Here are some pics of the process and some of my kiddos work. It is always a success!
I’ve also included a slide show of some of the art created.
This idea came from Alice Keeler and the late Diana Herrington’s book Teaching Math with Google Apps. I have wanted to implement it for some time and even had some conversations with Alice about how she is currently using it. This year I finally created some. The whole point behind this type of question is to get student to look up information, explain their thinking, and persevere until they have it correct.
Now, Alice does a much more in depth version of this, and I LOVE it, but my students aren’t ready for it yet. We will get there!
I give the students a question on a slide. One portion is for their answer, another portion is for them to explain their thinking. I leave comments and return them if they need correction or more in depth explanation. Taking some advice from Alice, I started off by giving students credit as quickly as possible. They will get frustrated and quit if they have to resubmit too many times. If the response if VERY incorrect, I will conference with the student face -to -face so we can discuss their misconceptions and they can be more successful with their next submission. I only give one of these a week and I do give them a grade for it. But remember, they can resubmit based on feedback as many times as needed.
Here are some examples of thinking questions I’ve given Geometry so far.
I don’t assign points for practice but I’m making the exception for this. I feel like the effort and perseverance creates a deeper mathematical understanding. The students have responded well to it and most students turn it in successfully.
As always, let me know if you use this idea in your classroom.