ERIC Number: EJ1053577
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Mar
Linking LEGO and Algebra
Özgün-Koca, S. Asli; Edwards, Thomas G.; Chelst, Kenneth R.
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v20 n7 p400-405 Mar 2015
In mathematics, students should represent, model, and work with such real-world situations as those found in the physical world, the public policy realm, and society (CCSSI 2010). Additionally, students need to make decisions and be flexible enough to improve their decisions after analyzing realistic situations. The LEGO® Pets activity does just that. Modeling with the Common Core's Standards for Mathematical Practice is a process that begins with identifying variables, analyzing relationships, and formulating a model, then moves into interpreting, validating, and reporting on the results (CCSSI 2010). To bring this modeling process to life in classrooms, teachers need sources of authentic problems. But how can teachers determine the authenticity of a problem that will allow students to model and analyze a situation mathematically? Herrington and Oliver (2000) and Lombardi (2007) have developed frameworks for authentic learning situations. They indicate that authentic problems share a number of characteristics. In particular, they (1) have clear connections to the real world; (2) require significant investments of time and intellect; (3) use information from multiple sources and often require taking more than one perspective; (4) allow for student collaboration; and (5) require not only finding a solution but also interpreting that solution in the context of the problem. In this article, the authors describe how they developed the LEGO® Pets activity (activity sheet included at the end of the article) in which students model a real-world problem situation, first concretely and then abstractly. They taught the activity in three sixth-grade classes in an affluent suburban district as well as in one sixth-grade and one seventh-grade class in a much less affluent suburban district. Approximately thirty students were in each class. The students in all five classes were motivated, interested, and able to work through all the questions posed. Sometimes they needed no scaffolding to answer the questions; at other times, minimal scaffolding; and a few times, extensive scaffolding.
Descriptors: Mathematics Instruction, Secondary School Mathematics, Middle School Students, Mathematical Concepts, Algebra, Mathematical Models, Learning Activities, Relevance (Education), Grade 6, Manipulative Materials, Grade 7, Suburban Schools, Spreadsheets, Concept Formation
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.nctm.org/publications/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education; Middle Schools; Junior High Schools; Grade 6; Intermediate Grades; Elementary Education; Grade 7
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A