Approaching Maths Equations Creatively
Mathematics is considered one of the most difficult subjects to learn according to some, but with the advance in technology and individual teachers' approach to the subject, it has the potential to be one of the most enjoyable subjects. Sharee Hebert, YCIS Beijing Secondary Mathematics Teacher, considers it fundamental for students to incorporate their methods to lessons which is what she did during a lesson on "Equations of Lines and Inequalities" from the Functions unit of the IGCSE course.
She mentions that for this particular lesson for Year 10s, the objective was to have students draw their names using the Desmos free online graphing calculator by the end of the week. Mrs. Hebert and her colleagues "wanted to have a challenge for students that allowed them to show us what they could do at their level." she said. Therefore, "this task allowed students to approach the task in a myriad of ways" which complemented their abilities. "You can see that some of them who enjoy art and math were very creative in the elements they added. Some students decided to do 3D names, and some decided to do simpler lines but added other features" she added.
The lesson was a part of a series of topics being reviewed and was presented on Microsoft Teams, a platform Secondary teachers and students have been consistently using throughout the school semester. To get started on the project however, Mrs Hebert chose to have students use Desmos due to its resourcefulness and access it allows to material. "Desmos is one of the highest quality tools for supporting math education in the classroom, and since it's online, it's easy for students to continue working even when we are not in school. There are many Desmos created teacher activities, and teachers can also create their activities and investigations for students to complete."
Not only that, but she added that "It is interactive, and the team of educators and tech experts at Desmos is constantly adding features to improve math education for all. We have also used Desmos in school, and it was a program that students were fairly familiar with."
Although acclimated with the platform, there were other challenges students came across while doing the project. For Jaskiran Arora, she "was confused at the start and didn't know where to start. But then I started to explore with it and I figured out how it works with lines and equations."
On the other hand, the technicalities of drawing his name made it challenging for Yumin Choi. For him "the most difficult part of this activity was to create a curved alphabet with a graphing calculator. For example, the alphabet u or m. Because these alphabets have curves, you have to graph multiple lines to make them. It's a tough job."
Kaishiro Mano reiterates "For characters with curved lines such as "S" and "R", we tried to keep beautiful curves."
The positives did nevertheless make it worthwhile, with students anticipating to have similar projects in future. "I enjoyed every part of this activity! It was brilliant that math and art could be joined together! I strongly believe that this activity was very meaningful for me. It will be great if we have this kind of activity again!" said Yumin.
With platforms such as Education Perfect being available to teachers , Mrs. Hebert states that they "can use these tools to extend and enrich the students' learning.", which will ensure that fun, innovative and interactive learning will continue during the eLearning period.