Friday, February 11, 2011

Catch a WORD! - Increasing academic vocabulary

We use this book before we start our daily Math lesson. When we come across new vocabulary we add it to the jar. It really surprises me how quickly the children understand the concepts and start using their newly acquired vocabulary when describing what they see. I added information about the activity below. It also has a few downloadable quick images you can try for free. I found it at

** I use my document camera, if you don't have one you could use your overhead projector. I put the image up but keep it covered so the students can't see it. I then say, " Pencils Down" and look around to make sure all eyes are on the smart board. When they are, I show the picture for approx. 5 seconds and then cover it again. The students will pick up their pencils and draw what they saw. After about a minute or so I ask if anyone would like a second look. If so, I give them another look for another 5 seconds. Then I uncover the image while students compare their drawing. I ask the students who would like to share what they saw and call on a few kids. It's really interesting to hear how they saw the image and how they describe what they saw. Here is where we discover new vocabulary and I will write the new words down for the day and put them in (on) our jar. We do 2-3 images a day. It was a little challenging for the kids at first but they improved quickly.

All meaningful mathematics learning is imaged-based. While there may be certain forms of mathematical reasoning that seem not to use imagery, most mathematical activity has a spatial component. If school mathematics is procedural, students may fail to develop their capacity to form mental images of mathematical patterns and relationships. It is well documented that students who reason from images tend to be powerful mathematics students. Further, we know that the ability to use images effectively in doing mathematics can be developed. When students are encouraged to develop mental images and use those images in mathematics, they show surprising growth. All students can learn to use images effectively. Thus, developing spatial sense should be a priority in school mathematics.

Quick Draw is an engaging mathematical activity that helps students develop their mental imagery. A figure such as the one shown below is presented briefly to students. They are asked to “Draw what you saw.” When students have drawn their figure, give them a second look. Finally, uncover the figure and ask students to describe what they saw. Encourage a wide range of interpretations. Some will see it as a two-dimensional figure while others may give it a three-dimensional interpretation. When they draw, they must work from a re-presented image since the figure shown is no longer in view. Finally, they are asked to describe what they saw and explain how they drew their sketch. As students listen to the ways others saw the figure, they are stimulated to reflect on their constructive activity and to consider other interpretations. It is often the case that students will describe new ways of viewing the figure as a direct result of listening to the descriptions of others.

The discussion of what they saw is a crucial component of the activity. Encourage students to talk about their drawings. Show enthusiasm for all interpretations. Be nonjudgmental, accepting all descriptions. Some students will be inspired by what others say. It is not unusual for five or more different ways of seeing the figure to be described. The whole class discussion of Quick Draw figures helps students get comfortable explaining their thinking to the class. There are no wrong answers. This carries over to lesson discussions of other topics. In learning mathematics, it is important that students become competent at articulating their thoughts as well as listening to other students.

*** I would love to know what you think about this. Have you heard of it, have you been doing it for years?? I would LOVE to know!

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