Saturday, August 27, 2016

#MTBoSBlaugust Weekend Edition: BE Creative in Math Class

Creative thinking is not always associated with math class!  But creative thinking is an important skill to practice.  Here are some ideas that I adapted to math class:

Idea One: Synectics:

Four Box Synectics would make a good warm-up strategy or review.  Draw four boxes.  You could fill in the boxes with words in advance or ask students to name objects from four categories.  Then have students describe the current unit's content using those objects.  Example:




Ask students to complete the sentence: A _______ is like a ______ because ....  So ... functions are like a song because they both tell a story.  Functions are like a song because they both can be graphed. Functions are like a song because they illustrate movement. And so on.

Idea Two: Fluency/Flexibility Exercise:

When asking students to brainstorm fluency lists, give them a short time (maybe 2 minutes).  Then have students draw a line and do it again.

After they create their category lists, have students share their various categories.  How are the categories different?

How many ways can you make the number 1?  You can use any operation or any combination of
operations. You can use any combination of numbers from the set of Real Numbers.

How many ways can you make the number 1?  Sort your list into TWO categories.  What categories did you use?  How did you determine how to sort each expression?

Brainstorm a list of all the things of which there are an infinite number.  Share your list with a partner. Do you agree with your partner's list?  Why or why not?

Idea Three: Thunks

Thunks are based on a book by Ian Gilbert. They are ... "a beguiling question about everyday things that stops you in your tracks but that helps you start to think." Thunks are fun to think up ... and fun to discuss! Gilbert's book includes how to conduct a "thunks" session, questions that work well, and even thoughts on why such discussions might not go well!

Some examples  ...

What color is algebra (or any function you are studying?)

Which is heavier, a function or a relation?

Is there more space or more lines in the world?

Idea Four: 6 degrees of separation

Example:  In algebra 2, at the beginning of the year most students arrive having studied algebra 1 and geometry.  So give this prompt ... 
You have studied both algebra and geometry.  On the top of your paper write, "Algebra."  On the bottom of your paper write, "Geometry."  Now in the middle section, make as many different connections as you can between them.

Example:  In algebra 2, we study one function after another.  Take some time for students to make connections ... using this prompt:
We've studied various functions. On the top of your paper write this function. On the bottom of your paper write this second function. Now, in the middle section, make as many different connections as you can between them!

Idea Five:  Which One Doesn't Belong

When I think of this activity I'm reminded of Sesame Street.  But there is a difference between the this awesome website for many good WODB activities!
toddler version and the creative activity version ... a good WODB activity has more than one right answer!  Check out

How do promote creative thinking in your math class??  Share an idea in the comments, please!

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