Pumphrey's Math

Patterns, everywhere

‘And then I stopped drawing’

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Today I introduced the reason for Algebra 2 to my students starting with the Dan Meyer 3Acts Toothpick activity. Some students really loved it and some gave up quite quickly challenging me as a teacher to ask questions to reignite the inquiry.

The real magic happened when students shared their ideas at the end about how they solved for the number of triangles and rows. The comment that stuck out to me was one student mentioned that he started to draw out the triangles but then he stopped. As soon as he saw a pattern emerging he could switch to more efficient process of using numbers.

I was able to quite succinctly go on to describe how we use numbers to describe patterns but that algebra gives us the power to describe patterns for any given number, in this case, of toothpicks.

Next week we start the unit on ‘What is a function?’ I hope this has given me enough to build upon.

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Author: PumphreysMath

A British Math(s) Teacher now living in Indianapolis, USA, aiming to show my students how questions are often more important than answers. Presenter of the MathEd Out Podcast and contributor for the Guardian Teacher Network.

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