Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Growing Patterns Classroom Project

Author and photographer, Sarah Campbell, visited my third grade literature connection class at St. Therese Catholic School on Wednesday, March 31st. She shared her new book, Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Patterns in Nature. You can read an interview I did with Sarah during the book's launch week, and you can read Sarah's blog post about yesterday here.

Even though Fibonacci numbers are not usually introduced in math curriculum until higher grades, patterns are very familiar to students even as young as three and four. Sarah's book and engaging persona help even math-challenged people like me understand the Fibonacci sequence and how to find this pattern in the natural world through the numbers of petals on flowers, spirals, and in nautilus shells. With the beautiful photo illustrations taken by Sarah and her husband, Richard, to explain the Fibonacci sequence, the book has appeal for mathematicians, naturalists, scientists, and artists of all ages.

Here, Sarah taught the students how to make a frame using scissors, rulers, pencils, and construction paper. This will help them practice framing photographs. Just as Sarah's book inspired good questions from the students, we believe that allowing them to take their own photographs of the natural world will inspire their writing. On April 1st, Sarah and I will lead students out on the pollen-covered playground (the yellow-green dusting happened overnight) to take photographs. We have 4 digital cameras to share between 13 students in roughly 35 minutes. Students waiting their turn for a real camera will practice and pretend with their paper frames.

After students have selected their best photograph, they will write a Fib poem based on their photograph. The home for this poem will be an accordion-style book also made using the first few numbers of the Fibonacci sequence. We believe these activities involving writing, construction, and measurement will reinforce the pattern of the Fibonacci sequence for the students, and it will also be fun!

Sarah answered a question from a student about how to take photos of animals or insects such as a wasp. "Very carefully!" she said. We discussed being very quiet, very still, and very patient. She asked students to think about what they might want to photograph by closing their eyes and imagining their playground and school campus for homework.

The third graders and I are very excited about this special project. I can't wait to see what happens today on the playground. Stay tuned for more!

1 comment:

Angela said...

I want to go to YOUR school. Your students are blessed to have you!