Teaching approaches: Visualisation

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Teaching Approaches

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Visualisation can be a powerful tool in modelling various problems, writing approaches, activities, and so on. It can also be useful in helping pupils to reason, and engage in higher order thinking around problem solving, by using a variety of tools, for example brainstorms to plan essays, consider pros and cons, to address problems in enquiry learning, and so on. Argument mapping, concept mapping, brain storming, mind mapping, diagramming and mathematical modelling (including using tools like Geogebra), writing frames, visual narratives (for example using animation software), and many more provide excellent ways to use visualisation to support high quality reasoning which can be shared collaboratively.

Relevant resources


CPD Directed Activities Related to Text (DARTs)
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Developing good pedagogy in using text based activities for learning
This resource covers a range of Directed Activities Related to Text, highlighting the importance of language(ta) and visualisation(ta) in activities, and their role in active learning(ta) and study skills(topic).
CPD Approaches to Reading
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Do we have to read it? Thinking about using 'reading' effectively in the classroom
This resource highlights a range of approaches to reading in the classroom and the reasons we ask pupils to engage in reading activities, including the importance of subject language(ta), study skills(topic), and conceptual reasoning(ta) and visualisation(ta) arising from subject based reading activities.
Investigation Consecutive Sums
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Can all numbers be made in this way? For example 9=2+3+4, 11=5+6, 12=3+4+5, 20=2+3+4+5+6
By definition, a problem is something that you do not immediately know how to solve, so learning how to solve something unfamiliar is not straightforward. Tackling an extended problem is difficult.

This lesson gives pupils an opportunity to engage in mathematical thinking(ta) and develop their higher order(ta) thinking skills on a problem that is accessible but which has interest. For example, the problem is presented in diagrammatic and numerical ways.

The plan suggests several visualisation(ta) methods to present the same underlying task. It should be useful for teachers to compare these different presentations and either to select the one that they feel will be most useful for their pupils or explore ways for the pupils to see the links between the different methods. The assessment(ta) ideas, using other pupils' solutions from the NRICH website are widely applicable to other problems too.

Language Exploring shape and its mathematical language through sorting activities
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Using mathematical language to discuss shapes of objects either printed or hidden in 'feely bags'. Can you feel the forks?
The Investigation(ta) of shapes and geometry can be very rewarding. A practical approach using objects from the pupils’ environment can increase their motivation and interest. In this unit, you will be using everyday objects to help pupils develop geometrical skills, such as recognising, visualisation(ta), describing, sorting, naming, classifying and comparing.

Through games(tool) on the properties of shapes, the activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and could form the basis of whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects. It can be used as a lesson extension, or as a preliminary task.

Modelling Models in Science
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Teachers use models to help pupils make sense of their observations
An opportunity for teachers to discuss the use of modelling(ta) and visualisation(ta) in Key stage 3 science
Sampling Sampling techniques to assess population size
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This lesson offers students an opportunity to use their existing knowledge to analyse a ‘real scientific publication’ and its language(ta) and link this to scientific method(ta).
  • They use study skills(topic) to skim read, make sense of complex language, and use visualisation(ta) to select relevant information
  • They engage in collaborative(tool) group work(ta) using reasoning(ta) and skills in peer assessment(ta)
  • They engage in dialogue(ta) and questioning(ta) to explore ideas together
  • They also think about how to present information using ICT(i) tools)
Statistics Cubic Equations and Their Roots
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To interactiviley explore and understand complex mathematics with GeoGebra
This lesson features a ‘real life’ example for students to explore using visualisation(ta) via GeoGebra. The focus on ‘real life’ increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

Visualisation Circumference of a Circle.
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Interactive GeoGebra investigation that allows students to explore an element of mathematics for themselves.
Visualisation Solar and Lunar Eclipse
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To show and explain how a Solar and Lunar eclipse occurs
This lesson features a ‘real life’ example for students to explore using visualisation(ta) via GeoGebra. The focus on ‘real life’ increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

Visualisation Perimeter of a rectangle.
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Interactive GeoGebra investigation that allows children (age 6-10) to explore an element of mathematics for themselves.
Visualisation Number and representation game.
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Interactive GeoGebra investigation that allows children (age 6-10) to explore an element of mathematics for themselves.
Visualisation Variety of areas with fixed perimeter.
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Interactive GeoGebra investigation that allows children (age 6-10) to explore an element of mathematics for themselves.
Visualisation Radioactive Decay and Carbon Dating
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Using 'real life' data to explore exponential graphs
This lesson features a ‘real life’ example for students to explore using visualisation(ta) via GeoGebra. The focus on ‘real life’ increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

Visualisation Kepler's Third Law
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Using 'real life' data
This lesson features a ‘real life’ example for students to explore GeoGebra. The focus on ‘real life’ increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(i), mathematical thinking(i) and vocabulary(i). This open ended(i) task encourages higher order(i) thinking, and encourages whole class(i) discussion(i)/questioning(i) and inquiry(i) projects.

Visualisation Flying paper planes
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Very visual and interactive and simple to understand
This lesson features a ‘real life’ example for students to explore using visualisation(ta) via GeoGebra. The focus on ‘real life’ increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

Visualisation GeoGebra STEM Exploration
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Develop 'real world' GeoGebra mathematical modelling applications which reach out to a wide range of users both students and teachers
The half-term activity consists of 3 half-day workshops interspersed with home-working and on-line collaboration. Each workshop is part tutorial and help in GeoGebra, part development, presentation and feedback on their emerging work. The three half-day sessions become gradually less structured as students become more confident taking the initiative in developing their own work:

An initial GeoGebra tutorial session features ‘real life’ examples such as mathematical modelling(ta) and visualisation(ta) from photographs of patterns and structure in flowers and architecture; exercises such as “math aerobics” where students model algebraic functions kinaesthetically; and data analysis and exploration such as from astronomy (Kepler's 3rd law) and athletic performance (Usain Bolt’s 100m sprints). Realistic examples such as these, or from students’ previous work, are essential to get the ball rolling. Following this, the onus is very much on the student’s own initiative. The focus on ‘real life’ and student ownership of ideas and project development increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task develops higher order(ta) reasoning(ta), and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

Visualisation Using visualisation in maths teaching
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Thinking about visualisation in education.
This unit looks at visualisation(ta) as it relates to mathematics, focusing upon how it can be used to improve learning. It also identifies ways in which to make more use of visualisation within the classroom.
Visualisation ORBIT/GeoGebra Competion 2013
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The 2013 competition has generated five high quality open-ended activities that support interactive teaching and allow children (age 6-10) to explore an element of mathematics for themselves.
The following guidance note are provided for each resource:
  • a short overview
  • brief instructions or teacher’s note (simple instructions including useful tips and recommendations)
  • list of learning objectives
  • description of the underlying pedagogical rationale/teaching approach
Visualisation Positioning fractions on the number line.
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Interactive GeoGebra investigation that allows children (age 6-10) to explore an element of mathematics for themselves.
Visualisation Variety of perimeter with fixed area
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Interactive GeoGebra investigation that allows children (age 6-10) to explore an element of mathematics for themselves.