Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Bunching Words to Consolidate Concepts

Bunching? What's that?

What is bunching? This is something we use in chapel and RAVE (Religious and Values Education) with our awesome chaplain, Father Richard. We generate a word bank of ideas related to a topic (Fear; Love; Compassion; Lonely) and then kids are asked to find words that they can "bunch" together to tell a story or explain an idea.

When we were doing this on Monday, looking at "The Good Life" as our theme, the potential for extension into other curricular areas hit me. I began to have ideas for how to use this with maths. 

Bunching Maths Concepts and Vocabulary

I made a collection of cards with words related to maths concepts prior to activity to have up my sleeve.

I introduced kids to the idea of the importance of language in understanding ideas and concepts, a link to a previous lesson on numbers and numeration focusing on the concept of "zero". (If there was no word for zero, do you think people had the idea/concept of zero?)

Next, I asked kids to suggest words that are used specifically in maths lessons. If I had a prepared card, I placed it on the floor. If not, then I wrote one out and put it down.

This continued until we had a good selection of 20 or more words.

Then I asked the kids to find words that they could "bunch" together to make a statement about mathematics. Here's a few examples:

"A half is a fraction."

"A number plus another number equals a new number."

"If you have a numerator and a denominator you can make a fraction."

"A half is a fraction but it can be a percentage too."

"When you do division with a number you might get a fraction as the answer."

"Some fractions are less than a quarter."

"Division is like multiplication but going backwards."

So what?

Well, I found this interesting because:
  • kids got to verbalise their understandings. This is important for learning to happen, for knowledge to be consolidated, for kids to move "to the next level". Even stating the obvious things like "a half is a fraction" or "a number plus another number equals a new number" helps them to clarify their understanding.
  • it helps me as a teacher see what the kids are thinking, what they know, what relationships they can see. It's an insight into their inner workings.
  • it gave the kids and I an opportunity to relate to maths in a transdisciplinary way - maths is words as well as numbers.
  • it gives us a springboard for further questions and conversations. Things like, "Does a number plus a number always equal a new number?" "What fractions are less than a quarter?" "How is division the same as multiplication but backwards?" 
Looks like I've got tomorrow's lesson all sorted...

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