This week in Year 5 we began the topic “Patterns and Algebra” in Mathematics. When I kick off a new topic in Maths I feel it is important to explain the “Why?” “How?” and “What?” of a topic.
So why do we learn about patterns and algebra? There are plenty of real life situation both historical and current that can illustrate the importance of patterns and algebra. I began with this fun Ted Ed on Archimedes discovery of the formula for density . I followed this by a short splash movie on the fibonacci sequence.
We then discussed occupations in which patterns and algebra would be used everyday. Computer programming was mentioned which gave me the opportunity to introduce “How” we can learn about patterns and algebra using the programming app “Hopscotch”.
I then walked students through the first two levels in the project section of the app (which is found by selecting the picture of two mountains). Each level teaches a programming skill and the levels get slightly more difficult as you progress.
By this point students were VERY keen to get started but I needed to revise a couple mathematic concepts before they could start. Let me tell you, I had their undivided attention!
“What” they had to revise was how to move around a cartesian plane in a positive and negative, x and y direction. We also revised the degrees in a circle and percentage increase and decrease.
I then let them go “Hopscotch” for 30 minutes.
Some worked together,
others next to each other at the same pace.
After half an hour I had students watch me work through a level and write down my progress like an equation. For example; start then walk forward 300, turn 90 degrees then walk forward 500 was written as: s+300+90°t+500=d (s=start, t=turn and d=destination). I then gave students 10 more minutes and asked them to write down formulas.
The lesson finished with students sharing the different formulas they had written and seeing if other students could guess what they translated to in Hopscotch.
The engagement during this lesson was at a maximum and students are asking if they can “Hopscotch” every spare minute ever since.
For more information including some tutorials from Paul Hamilton, please go to this page on our OSSBYO web.