Monday, March 26, 2007

Learning Journey

Andrea's thoughts:
At the beginning of this process I had no idea what tangrams were, I didn’t even know that tangrams were something involved in mathematics. However, through the course of researching tangrams, the concept became much clearer to me. Tangrams are not simply just puzzles, they can be used to teach a variety of geometric concepts such as area, angles, etc. I also realized that tangrams are something that can easily become a part of the mathematics classroom because there is so much information available that incorporating them should be fairly straightforward. What makes tangrams a nice addition to the mathematics classroom is the fact that children are interested in them and enjoy solving the puzzles. The truly great thing I learned is that tangrams are not solely linked to mathematics; they can be incorporated into the language arts classroom, through books such as "Grandfather Tang,” they can also be incorporated into the art classroom, through making sets of tans, etc. I believe that tangrams should be a part of every child's education because they promote problem solving, are authentic, and are engaging. Isn’t this what the mathematics classroom should be like?

Jody's thoughts:
When I was faced with having to choose a topic for this inquiry project, the word tangram caught my attention. I enjoyed math throughout primary/elementary school all the way up to high school, and I had never heard of the term being used. Therefore, I felt that researching this topic would be a great learning experience. As I began exploring the Internet, journal articles etc., I found a wealth of interesting knowledge. For example, that a tangram was a puzzle and could be used in the classroom to cover a variety of geometric principles. I also found numerous lessons on how to incorporate the use of tangrams in the mathematics classroom, and this shows me that the way teachers approach mathematics is changing for the better. Instead of emphasizing worksheets with drill and practice routines, manipulatives such as tangrams prove to be far more beneficial. I have discovered there are many advantages to using tangrams in the classroom, as they provide authentic, hands-on, minds-on, open-ended exploration. I know from personal experience, that geometry was a very dry topic in school, and I feel my learning could have been enhanced if I was given the opportunity to work with these puzzles – and that is what a mathematics classroom should be all about!

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