Resource Reviews 3/07
by Connect Staff
A Book of One's Own, Literacy through the Book Arts, and Pictures and Words Together, by Paul Johnson (see article, Three Folds and a Spot of Glue), present numerous projects in bookmaking. In these books, Paul synthesizes his experiences as an educator, artist, and engineer of sorts. Each publication features interesting projects, from simple to advanced, with many student examples. The step-by-step instructions and diagrams are very clear and give one the sense that any project is achievable. As well, there is much material on the role of literacy, the process of story making and design, and the importance of integrating these subjects.
Mathematics and Beauty: Aesthetic Approaches to Teaching Children, by Nathalie Sinclair (see article, Experiencing Proportion), is an adventurous exploration of what it means to include ideas of beauty, elegance, and pleasure in the study of mathematics. Part I focuses on the plausibility of including aesthetics in math. Part II functions to, "… Dispel claims that the mathematical aesthetic should be treated as a fanciful hobby … ." Part III focuses on the processes of middle school students as they approach problems, many of which are accessible through the Web site http://tapor1.mcmaster.ca/ ~sgs/maths/ http://tapor1.mcmaster.ca/ ~sgs/maths/. Part IV looks at the aesthetic dimension of mathematics enculturation, or how the learning of the individual is impacted by the culture of the classroom, school, and wider community. The author makes a compelling case for teachers to examine aesthetics and the role it can play in math education for ages kindergarten through adult. 196 pages.
Improving Instruction in Geometry and Measurement, by Margaret Schwan Smith, Edward A. Silver, and Mary Kay Stein, is an interesting collection of case studies looking at geometry learning in middle-school grades. The authors state that these cases are chosen not because they are exemplary, but because they offer great opportunities to be analyzed. Each case includes sections on the background of the class; an actual, detailed lesson as it's presented and the response of the students; suggestions for analyzing the case; connecting to your own practice; and exploring curricular materials. Part of the Ways of Knowing in Science and Mathematics series, this is a wonderful book to help educators consider deeply how they want to teach.134 pages.
Patty Paper Geometry, by Michael Serra, is a comprehensive guide that starts from the very simple (draw two points, fold a crease from one to the other to show "line") to the more complex (finding areas of polygons, exploring tessellations and rotations, working with the Pythagorean theorem). Patty paper (square papers used by the food industry to separate frozen meat patties) can be used to explore them all, and much more. Ideas and directions for over 100 activities are clearly laid out. This is set up as a workbook, so could be used by a student directly, or as a resource by teachers. There are recommendations for cooperative learning groups and a sensible progression from start to finish of each exploration. A glossary and answer key are included. 262 pages.
Metamorphs: Transforming Mathematical Surprises, by Robert Byrnes, is a book of paper models to cut out, fold, and glue into polyhedra that "morph" into other polyhedra. Some of these forms also function as moving puzzles. The brightly colored, heavy paper is easy to work with for older students. This book includes background information, history, proofs and explanations of each Metamorph. Teachers of seventh- and eighth-grade students might prepare by testing these models first, then present to students, as some of the directions are difficult to understand. This publisher also has many excellent geometry resources, including tools, books, and posters. 48 pages.
Groovy Geometry: Games and Activities That Make Math Easy and Fun, by Lynette Long, is a children's activity book. Most of the activities can be done independently using everyday household items (but some require photocopying). This is a very simple book that covers a big range of geometric concepts in 40 hands-on activities. Little background information or context is given for each concept, but these activities could be good introductory or reinforcing experiences for children. Looking for patterns, asking questions, trying out variations, and making connections is emphasized. Teachers could use this book to help frame activities as part of more developed lessons.
AIMS (Activities Integrating Math and Science) education puzzle pages. Here is a vast selection, with over 100 games. Many are geometry related. Some are downloadable as PDFs to copy and distribute to students. http://www.aimsedu.org/
Eric A. Anderson, an origami enthusiast, Web site includes links to hundreds of other origami sites, online directions, pages focusing on the math/origami connection, history of origami, and examples of his extraordinary work. http://www.paperfolding.com
Annenberg CPB is the site for math and science project's "Shape and Space in Geometry" pages. Includes background information linking to the Standards and fun, clear activities for students. http://www.learner.org/teacherslab/math/geometry/
- Synergy Learning has a small dedicated staff of educators with experience both in the classroom and staff development.