One of the tasks for the course I teach is to explore in a bit more detail one of the 150 ICT innovations identified as “good” in the Decoding Learning report. The list can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet. Preferably, the idea is we should be exploring ICT innovations that we might like to apply in our teaching.
The Wii, proportion and embodied mathematical cognition
The Decoding Learning folk describe this innovation this way
This project uses a gesture control device (Wii remote) and an onscreen representation to help learners explore and discuss their mathematical understanding, for example, of ratio. The underlying idea is that the design encourages learners to make gestures to represent mathematical concepts and then to reflect upon and discuss how their gestures related to the concepts. The innovation requires the gesture console, the prototype device and peers to be available so that learners can discuss their ideas.
The reference they give is Abrahamson (2012) but it appears that Trninic and Abrahamson (2012) may give a better, broader introduction.
Of course, rather than wade through an academic treatise you may just want to watch the video.
The Mathematical Imagery Trainer
Trninic and Abrahamson (2012, p. 286) describe their rationale as being
that some mathematical concepts are difficult to learn because mundane life does not occasion opportunities to embody and rehearse their spatial–dynamical foundations
To test this they implemented the Mathematical Imagery Trainer shown in the video above. They tested this with students (22 students from a K-8 school). It’s use went something like this
- A student was sat in front of the screen and tasked with moving their hands until the screen was green.
- Once achieved they were asked to move their hands and keep the screen green.
i.e. they need to develop a rule for why the screen was green.
- As needed additional scaffolding could be provided to the students, including
- A cartesian grid, without numbers.
- Adding numbers to the cartesian grid.
- And it appears some level of tutorial support encouraging the student to elaborate and reflect on their thinking.
I like this idea because it uses ICTs to achieve something that would be otherwise difficult. Engaging the body in understanding maths also appeals. It also moves examples of ICT use beyond social media, which tends to dominate my practice.
It also helps that the source code for this has been made available. Though without some further testing I’m not sure about the quality and ease of use of the code. It might be beyond a typical teacher to get this up and going. There is then the question of students doing this individually.
A re-implementation using something like AR SPOT wouldn’t be that difficult and would potentially lower the entry barrier for classroom use. A PC with a web cam and an IWB or big screen could potentially be useful.
Kinect2Scratch might offer some similar possibilities.
Of course, it even opens up the possibility of a the students either help implement it in Scratch or perhaps analyse it after they’ve used it. The ability to look at the code providing some mental/algorithmic reinforcement of the embodied introduction.
Abrahamson, D. (2012) You’re it! Body, action, and object in STEM learning. In J. van Aalst, K. Thompson, M. J. Jacobson, & P. Reimann (Eds) ‘Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences: Future of Learning’ (ICLS 2012) Vol. 2: Symposia, pp. 99-109. Sydney: University of Sydney / ISLS.
Trninic, D., & Abrahamson, D. (2012). Embodied artifacts and conceptual performances. International Conference of the learning sciences: Future of learning (ICLS 2012) (Vol. 1, pp. 283–290). Sydney.