Ambitious mathematics for young Pacific learners:
Dr Jodie Hunter uses The Connect to enable the children to generalise from the pattern at a symbolic level.
‘The symbolic level requires students to replace words with symbols such as letters to express the generality of the rule.’
She asks the children to identify what was the same in each group’s answer. The children identify the four leaves in the middle of the pattern as a constant no matter how big the pattern grows.
Then she challenges the children to identify another way of saying 8+ 8+ 8+ 8. So the children see multiplication - ‘8 times’ - as another way forward. She takes the children through to a rule that accounts for the constant (4) and for the linear growing pattern.
Dr Hunter asks the class to help her grandmother to work out how many leaves to make for a giant quilt.
A rule for the pattern would be ‘times 8 + 4’. Then Dr Hunter explains that they can use a letter to stand for any position number. So the letter ‘m’ is used to mean any position number. That’s how you would find the answer for any position number.
Dr Hunter then asks the children try it out for different position numbers using the new rule m x 8 + 4.
Then Dr Hunter presents the children again with her grandmother’s question for the 120th position and asks every child to talk to the child next to them to check out the rule so that they can answer the question.
The lesson ends with a Cook Islands child answering the question for the whole class ‘120 x 8 + 4’ and the other students agreeing with his answer.
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The Massey University Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities team won the Mathematics Educational Research Group of Australasia Award for Māori and Pacific Success 2018.