I am Ayrton Curmi, a primary school teacher in Malta teaching 5th graders. While planning a Mathematics lesson about symmetry, I noticed that the Europeana learning scenario ‘Symmetry in Mathematics’ by Ivo Žikić, was an effective way how I can link symmetry to the real world. I chose to implement this learning scenario because I believe that it promotes 21st-century skills.
The lesson was implemented with a group of students in the primary years, aged 9-10 years during a Mathematics lesson.
As an introduction, the students were presented with three images from the Europeana Collection. After a brief introduction regarding Europeana, the students participated in a Think-Pair-Share activity, where they had to discuss these photos. The main aim of this activity was that the students would be able to identify the topic of this lesson. While sharing their ideas, a particular group managed to mention symmetry. We developed a class discussion in order to formulate the learning intention for this particular lesson.
The use of technology
Digital resources are an important factor in today’s educational system. As effective educators we should cater for a variety of needs by using several strategies, one of them being digital resources. During this lesson the pupils had various opportunities to use digital resources. After the learning intention was determined, the pupils used WorkSpace to define symmetry. They were free to express themselves in any form, such as writing or drawing.
In order to link symmetry with real life objects, I used the Mentimeter app. The students had to answer three questions;
- What is symmetry?
- Write some examples of symmetrical figures.
- Write some examples of symmetry found in nature.
During this activity, they had to submit individual answers, however, they were encouraged to discuss with their partners. Students were also exposed to Europeana resources related to symmetry. In another activity, they were also encouraged to look up for more Europeana images related to this topic. Instead of assigning them traditional classwork using text-books and copybooks, students had the opportunity to work on their tablet using ‘StudyLadder’ app. To further assess students, some of them were chosen to work out an example on the interactive whiteboard using this link.
In order to use a cross-curricular approach by linking Mathematics with Art, the students were divided into groups and they were given an A4 coloured cardboard. Each group had to draw a real-world object and identify whether it’s symmetrical or not. They also had to write their definition of symmetry. After the allotted time, each group had to give a short presentation about their outcome.
To be honest, I was very pleased with the final outcome of their presentations. During this activity, students were developing 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication and environmental literacy.
Room for improvement
After reflecting on this lesson, I was quite satisfied because all students managed to grasp concepts and mathematical vocabulary related to symmetry. They were able to move away from the traditional shapes such as, squares, rectangles and triangles and link these shapes with real-life objects. This was evident during the final activity where they were given an exit ticket to give some feedback regarding this learning scenario.
If I had to add anything to this learning scenario, I would organise a fieldwork in either an urban or rural location and the students would act as investigators. During this fieldwork they will try to notice different shapes in the real-world while drawing them on their clip-board and try to identify their lines of symmetry. This can easily be done during a cross-curricular outing such as ‘Trekking’.
My feelings as a teacher
In my planning, I always try to be creative and innovative for the benefit of my students. In today’s world, we need to keep on learning about new technologies to engage our students during lessons while promoting 21st-century skills. As effective educators, we are responsible for tomorrow’s generation therefore we should teach our learners in a holistic way while providing a significant educational experience to each of our students.
Would you like to read about the related learning scenario? You can download it below:
Symmetry in Mathematics by Ivo Žikić
Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here
CC BY-SA 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana Collections and provided by the Beeldbank van de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed.