Thursday, May 3, 2012

Talking Math in Wisconsin (Part 1)

Greetings, WMC conference peeps! (The Wisconsin Mathematics Council, that is.) Speakers have to send in the handouts a few weeks ahead of time, but of course I don't pull my presentation together until a few days (hours?) beforehand. So that no one has to scribble too much on the handouts, my speaker notes and links are in this post. Somebody got the bright idea to have me give two(!) keynotes, so Part 2 will be Math in Picture Books = Math in Context while this post outlines my talk about…
Seeing Symmetry!

Ideas for introducing the book
Symmetry is a great visual way to convey basic math concepts such as equality, repeats, reflection, and rotation. Show students that the back cover of the book is the same as the front…except the words are backwards. That's because the front and back are mirror images of each other, to visually convey the topic in the book design.

Watch the book trailer. FYI, it started out as a Keynote presentation that I "filmed" using ScreenFlow screen capture software. For the narration, I recorded myself with Garageband on my iPad2. Then the voiceover and sound effects were added to the timeline in ScreenFlow. 

Reading Options
Depending on the level of your students and the size of the class, this book can work as a read-aloud. Using it with a document projector makes it easier for everyone to see the pictures. It could also work to read just one or two spreads in a session and continue another day.

Concrete examples

Use symmetrical construction paper cut-outs as shown below. Hold them up while folded and have students predict what they are.
The images shown are a butterfly, square, teddy bear, number 3, letter Z, car, and star. For more info and to check out the Seeing SYMMETRY Chant that highlights these items, click on the photo above. 

Have students use a Super Simple Line of Symmetry Locator to check out images in the book for line symmetry. What am I talking about? More info and a poster are found here.
Several activities that use the book can be found in the Seeing SYMMETRY Activity Pack on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Several other PDFs with a symmetry theme are also available in my store such as Spring Mirror Word Puzzles and the Cowboy Boot Coloring Page. Several are free while the rest are two or three dollars, such as the WOW MOM Mother's Day Card.

Math Ideas on Pinterest
There are zillions of great math and other educational ideas on Pinterest (pronounced like the word "interest" with a P in front). It has become my favorite way to browse the Internet because…

Pinterest = Images + Text + Organizing + Sharing  

You "pin" the images you find on the web onto your "pinboards" (usually known as bulletin boards in the U.S.) You can "repin" other people's pins to your boards, while the link to the original source remains. You can follow other people and they can follow you. Some of my boards have close to 1,000 followers after a few weeks, which implies that plenty of other people find this as inspirational as I do.

How to find great math ideas and links on Pinterest:
on general terms such as math but also more specific words such as shapes or geometry. Adding "lesson" or a specific grade level to the search leads to more education-oriented pins. I do most searches on Boards or Pins (as opposed to People).
Follow people who have similar interests as you. Click here to see my boards. The most interesting to math teachers are: Seeing Symmetry! and Making Math Fun!

iPad Apps that incorporate Symmetry
Paint My Wings lets kids paint a butterfly…as each stroke goes on, its mirror image appears on the other wing.
Create a Monster HD has a symmetry mode as you assemble the monstrous pieces and parts.
123D Sculpt allows you to push, pull, and paint virtual clay with symmetry with an optional setting.
uzu is hard to describe…it's more of an experience that allows one or more people to play with amazing particles in a sort of intergalactic way. It has settings that create symmetrical images.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
The standard that Seeing Symmetry is aligned with is 4.G.3, or: Recognize a line of symmetry for a two-dimensional figure as a line across the figure such that the figure can be folded along the line into matching parts. Identify line-symmetric figures and draw lines of symmetry.

A couple of other points… the standards for ELA state that the percentage of informational texts that elementary students read should be 50%. More on this topic is here, but my observation is that math certainly counts as "informational," right? (smile)

Lastly, there seems to be some confusion about at least one aspect of the math standards…note that the Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practice apply to ALL grades. They are reiterated in summary form for each grade level in a numbered list from 1 to 8, but the long version is what applies, not just the summary. I have run across teachers who think that only the summary applies to their grade, which is not the way it reads to me.

Anyway, if you've read this far, congratulations! Not sure if I will be able to deliver all this in an hour, but if not, people can catch the rest of it here.
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