Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mathematics education - as seen on the screen

The stats for this blog indicate that my previous collections of web-based videos have been popular. Hence this post...

Why use web based video in mathematics education? Don Tapscott, author of “Grown Up Digital”, uses the expression “screenagers” to describe the youth of today. Like it or loathe it, the fact remains that our students are conditioned to interact with screens. By using their medium of choice we are more likely to engage them - assuming that the content is worthy. Video - moving pictures and sound - is the language of our students. There is considerable research evidence that interest leads to engagement - which leads, on average, to better performance.

This classic clip of Abbott and Costello demonstrates how easily errors can flow from faulty understanding of procedures - procedural knowledge without conceptual understanding.
Abbot and Costello maths 7x13=28

Apart from the appeal of seeing adults make mistakes this clip can easily move from viewing to activity by investigating where is Abbot going wrong. How could students convince him that he is wrong - and help him from making the same mistake in the future?

This clip is one of many on Youtube featuring what has been called “Mayan multiplication”. (The name may be something of a misnomer as there is some evidence that it may have evolved in India as a part of the vedic tradition.)
Mayan multiplication

This clip is clear and “lo tech” which generates the impression that anyone could use this technique. Can they? Students could explore the technique - but then contrast it with the traditional method of multiplication to compare ease of use - especially with larger numbers.

So how does it work? The wondrous Vi Hart both demonstrates and explains here.

Younger students can also benefit from drawing lines - to investigate patterns in numbers.
Number patterns

Once this video has been viewed it is a small step to recreating it in real life - and then investigating the patterns created by other numbers.

Lines - of symmetry - also feature in this clip. In an earlier collection I included an amazing clip of paper placed in water which unfolded to create a complicated flower-like shape. This is similar - but much simpler and could also be used to prompt an examination of symmetry - and being simpler might be suitable for younger students.

This site features a reasonable number of educational videos with a special section on mathematics. Included is an “inspiration” section which links to photographs with an accompanying maths challenge.
It needs to be said that I see these clips as a means of promoting interest in mathematics rather than as an end in themselves - I see these as useful ways of introducing topics which can then be explored in a more traditional manner. Using visual images in mathematics classes can help bring the subject alive while still allowing teachers to address the requirements of the curriculum.
If you enjoyed this collection you may like to see other collections  here.
Credits: all information available by following the relevant links.
Abbot and Costello maths 7x13=28

Mayan multiplication  

Vi Hart
Number patterns

Floating flowers