My year 8 class started a unit on Reasoning in Geometry today. Still going along the theme of teaching big-picture style as I did with Equations, I introduced this topic with a lesson inspired by @ddmeyer’s “How we talk about shapes” and @edteck’s (Peter Pappas) “Basic Communications exercise”.
The premise is this….
Reasoning requires knowledge of facts and language (read, write, talk – words and symbols).
Anyway, rather than just state my premise, I went through the activities outlined in the linked blog posts above. The activities certainly made it clear to the students why we name shapes (in the way we do) and how literacy in words and symbols facilitate communication.
This places a big emphasis on literacy in Mathematics but that’s because I think Maths is a language in itself, a man-made tool to help people make sense of – and manipulate – our world. To further emphasise literacy, I also defined Geometry, listed terms we will use as well as discussed properties of shapes and why it makes sense to call a triangle a triangle, etc.
The very nature of the activities engaged the students and a quarter into the lesson, some even said “I’m really enjoying this lesson” or later yet, “I feel I’m really learning” (they do usually learn something but awareness/articulation of learning takes it up a notch). Throughout the lesson, they also saw how their learning – over time – is valuable to build on; such is the spiral nature of maths education.
To make sure the lesson flowed as planned, I created a powerpoint. It’s good to go for anyone who wish to use it but you really must read first the posts by Dan Meyer and Peter Pappas to see where I’m coming from.
Am I wrong to emphasise literacy in maths?