Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Geometry and Joyful Math Mindset Shift

I struggled with math most of my life.  From upper elementary school on I hated it.  As an adult and educator I wanted to find a way to love math again and heal the wound where my first image of
"My Inner Self" was damaged by the experience of I was not good enough to do math.  How to do this, heal my inner self and change my negative self-talk, has become a huge priority as I work with my own son.
One of the ways, I have found is finding joy again in Math. Learning the relationships of patterns and numbers and exploring spatial forms and geometry as it relates to the world around me has helped me shift my mindset.  Here is one of the activities I have used to engage learners and create a joyful experience. This lesson is taken from a Waldorf educational lesson. 

The supplies needed for this activity are:
Semi-transparent folding squares 6"by 6" (these are a waxy transparent origami paper purchased off Amazon)
Glue Stick
Scissors or paper cutter
I start on a hard surface and tell the story of how being precise matters and taking my time matters in math and measurement.  Origami design teaches quickly by trial and error how getting the fold wrong is going to effect work and it shows up in this structured spatial geometrical lesson. Getting the fold wrong and auto correcting is important so I tell my students the importance of making mistakes and how getting it wrong teaches us more because we must learn from our mistake and correct our problems. You have to be resilient as a problem solvers.  We must not give up but keep at it till be get it right.  To be able to keep going and having the determination too after failure is just as important as getting the answer right and often the process of learning all that: think, make, fail, reflect, redo, is more valuable to our long term goals.  It is all part of the process of learning.

So for the design here we followed the patterns of the color wheel and used half of a sheet folding the edges to meet in a long rectangle and then doing the corners down twice in both directions. I glue all the folds down as I go. My son helps me do this. Sometimes we cut the origami paper in fourths and make various folds to create more patterns.  (I'll add now that my son hates this work and these shapes are really about healing my math ego, his is in pretty good working order.)  There are many ways to do these little geometrical shapes and no way is wrong.  They are very pretty and cheerful on the windows too.
I used the middle line on each diamond shape to match up to the next paper diamond. Again patterning these shapes can revel all kinds of "Aha Moments".  This is a great lesson for symmetry and can as open ended as you like.
Finished product in window. You can see the circle shapes that form and how the precision in the folds effect the over all design.

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