Hey, It's Math! Let's Visualize! (FREEBIE!)

Welcome to Chapter 5-- The Importance of Visualizing Mathematical Ideas

Take just a few seconds to think about how YOU go about solving a mathematical problem.
Chances are, one of the very first things you do is visualize! 

I mean- seriously. Remember those questions from high school Algebra? 
If train A is traveling at 35 mph, and train B is traveling at 40 mph...........

You immediately pictured to locomotives racing toward each other, didn't you?

Visualizing-- pulling from prior knowledge and creating mental images is so important in constructing meaning....not just in reading....but in MATH too! I remember learning about the importance of visualization in my reading methods courses and discovered to my utter shock and amazement, that not everybody does it! Seriously. I was shocked. I thought, NO WONDER some people say they don't like reading.....if you can't spontaneously create that mind movie....no wonder you don't like to read! 

The good news is that as teachers, we can help kiddos develop the ability to visualize. It takes direct and explicit instruction. Here are some methods & strategies Laney shares in her book:
  • Modeling & think alouds-
  1. Teacher with kiddos listening
  2. Teacher with students helping
  3. Students in whole group with teacher as support
  4. Students in small group with teacher & other kiddos as support
  5. Teacher AND students do think-alouds in writing &/or pictures, then compare with others ** I have not tried this, but it really sounds like it would work well in the classroom!
  6. Student in a conference with the teacher **This would probably be very informing to your instruction!
  • Visualize, Draw, Share - You give statements verbally to students, they draw their representation, then share.
One of the NCTM standards is that kiddos be able to represent mathematical ideas in multiple ways: with words, mathematical symbols, pictures, and with real-life examples. If kiddos don't have the ability to visualize, they really cannot do this. You can help them develop the ability by planning lots of opportunities to practice. Sure...some people visualize automatically. But it can also be purposefully applied. Make sure your kiddos know that. If an image or 'mind movie' doesn't pop into their head, that's okay. We can also purposely make that happen. It just takes practice.

I adapted one of the organizers in the book to work for my primary kiddos. Using this organizer once a week (or more) will help give them the practice they need for visualizing (along with the think alouds and other methods!). It'll also give them an opportunity to practice multiple representation. Love that!

You can download this FREEBIE by clicking on the image.(Don't worry--- it won't have that watermark on it! But as a side note...how cool is that...just figured out how to do that with a couple clicks on my snagit!)

Lots of others are posting their thoughts on Chapter 5. Stop by & check them out!

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