Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom and Mathematical Patterns

Four of the primary teachers and myself are working together this fall on what in teacher talk is called a "professional learning community". We are looking at ways of using children's literature to inspire and provoke mathematical thinking and problem solving. Each week, the four classes (divisions 6, 7, 8 and 9) will be read a picture book during their library block and then follow up with a mathematical task.
Throughout the term, the teachers and I will be meeting to talk about what we've noticed and learned and make plans for future lessons.

This week we read the book Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom by Stuart J. Murphy which introduces repeating patterns using a child's set of toy cars.

As I read the story, the students "read" the patterns created with the cars. They "read" or labeled the patterns using colours, letters, numbers, shapes or actions (clap, snap, tap, etc). We had tubs of math materials (tiles, cubes, blocks) out on the tables and when the story was finished, we posed the following problem to the students:
Using three colours, how many different patterns can you make?
The students were so focused and came up with so many different patterns. Some repeating, some increasing, some decreasing and some circular!

As the students were working on their patterns, we were asking the students to describe, label, compare and extend their patterns - checking for understanding about the mathematical skills and concepts appropriate to their grade level. The students had a chance to see some of the patterns created by their classmates and then we asked the students to "record" their patterns on a piece of paper using colours and labels or "codes". There was such a variety of patterns created and different ways that the students came up with to record their patterns.

Next week, there'll be another math adventure in the library!
~Ms Novakowski

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