Page 8 - FIS World October 2018
P. 8

 The Blue Whale is Too Long
Making mathematics more visible in and around the school
“Oh no, the blue whale is too long!” Hamish, Grade 2, cannot fit the sign of his chosen
endangered animal in the corridor because the line on the wall is only 22 meters long. We measure further behind the doors, through the Elementary School hallway and end up next to the stairs where Hamish tapes a sign on the floor marking 34 meters, together with his blue whale sign. After the summer, the outside sports court also has meter signs indicating length and width. Hamish and his friend discover that if the sports court were turned into an aquarium, the blue whale would fit, but he would not have much space to swim.
At FISW, mathematics is made more visible in the indoor and outdoor learning environment. It all started with a boy in Grade 3 who was struggling to make the step from counting on his fingers (the so-called concrete level of action) to abstract calculating (the formal level). Between these levels, models and representations such as a number line help to move to the next level. I could only find a small number line and gave him a cuddly toy frog to make the jumps. But a big number line where the boy could walk and jump himself, would have been even better: the kinaesthetic movement helps students understand and recall what they are learning. Studies also show that using such non-linguistic representations benefits
English-language learners. For all students, big mathematical models provide exciting and engaging opportunities for education as well as play. This gave me the idea that FISW would benefit from making mathematics more visible in hallways, staircases and on the playground.
Administrators Andrea Rosinger and Jason Bentley were enthusiastic, as was FISW’s former math coordinator Sue Haviland who is now teaching at the Oberursel Campus. The idea was discussed in team meetings and proposals were collected by many teachers. FISW’s PTG welcomed and supported the initiative, too.
For all students, big mathematical models provide exciting and engaging opportunities for education as well as play.
Mathematical representations in the learning environment fit well within the framework of
the Primary Years Programme (PYP). Many of the proposals offered a relevant, realistic context and opportunities for conversations and discussions to help students explore the world.
 6 FIS World October 2018

   6   7   8   9   10