Friday, 9 August 2013

Picture Beads

Inspired by a question I was posed in Jo Boaler's (@joboaler) 'How to Learn Math' free online course [see] I have been getting creative with 'picture beads'!

Here's the question Jo posed...

This question has 2 parts, 1 open ended (growth-mindset) question and 1 closed (fixed-mindset) question.
The 'How do you see this shape growing' is of course the growth-mindset question as it is open ended, there are multiple answers, multiple entry points for students and there are different ways of looking at the problem (which I personally didn't see at first).

The 'How to Learn Math' course has made me more aware of the types of questions and tasks I give out in class and that I should be trying to make tasks as open ended as possible in order to instill a more growth-mindset in my students, allowing them to learn from their mistakes rather than just going through the methods learnt etc.

So, whilst I was in Ikea with @kutrahmoore (we were looking for a few bits for our new flat, exciting times!) she came across some beads that she apparently wanted to get elsewhere but were too expensive. I had no idea what they were or what she wanted them for but she said she'd explain when we got home.

Here's the pot (£5)...

When we got back...oh, I should probably say now that she's a Design & Technology teacher and so is a bit 'arty farty' having worked at a ceramics studios, studied at London College of Fashion (LCF) etc...she showed me how the beads worked by putting them on a 'peg board' in some sort of fashion, you then iron over the beads and it melts the plastic creating a picture of some sort that you can use for keyrings, place mats etc (I'm sure she'd come up with far more interesting ways of using these crafts).
So, it got me thinking of how I could use them. Immediately I thought about the beads and patterns they could form/make and so I started to play around with some of them on one of her peg boards.
Here's what I created...

 Here's my beads on the peg board arranged in a few patterns. My thinking is that I'd make a few of these and hand them out in class and pose students the same question as Jo did above...'How do you see this shape growing'. Then we'd go on to looking at working out specific pattern numbers, the 'nth' pattern etc. So, once you've created your pattern you then...
 ...put a piece of tracing paper (provided with the kit) over it and then carefully (otherwise the little buggers will move and you'll have to start over - this sucks) iron over it melting the plastic and making the beads 'stick' together. You have to iron them for about 3-4 mins and then...
 ...leave them to cool before peeling them off the peg board and the tracing paper.
 This is what they look like when they're finished, although Hannah (@kutrahmoore) said I should have ironed both sides. The side shown is the non-ironed side as I liked how the individual beads are easier to see here (and count). If I'd have ironed both sides you lose a bit of the definition between beads (as they all melt into one).
 Naturally, after I had made a few patterns for class I started to experiment...
 Then @kutrahmoore gave it a go too...
...and we created these little beauties! Great for a rainy day, or if you're a math teacher looking to introduce some open question on sequences/series/patterns etc.

We then got thinking and thought that these would be a great thing to do in a 'Creative Maths Club' that could be run after school for students to attend. They could take their created patterns home after, or even better, be used in other classes by other students - all created by the students. I've also thought about making some ratio bracelets too to use in class, all I'll need for this is some wire and to thread the beads onto these in different ratios!

Other ideas for a 'Creative Maths Club':

Origami numbers (I recently found an App on the iPhone that gives you instructions for making numbers from origami (folding paper)).
Angry Bird Nets
Polydron 3D shapes
Making Math board games
Darts! (there's a blog post coming soon about this)
+ plenty more

Get some 'picture beads', and the like, by going to Ikea or any other good arts and crafts store!

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