There is a tradition in the use of mathematical
films, animations and images as a stimulus for classroom discussion
that can be traced through the work of Mary Boole, Nicolet, Caleb
Gattegno, Dick Tahta, Laurinda Brown and others.
Rather than try to summarise such a rich corpus
of work I will try to offer below something of how I work with mathematical
I am aware of wanting to create a sense of drama
and performance before showing a film. I make myself as still as
I can and offer a minimum of context save that the task, having
watched the film, will be to try and re-create together what we
saw. However, students should not worry about trying to remember
it, but just be present in what they see.
As the film finishes I am again aware of wanting
to make myself as still as possible, pausing for as long as possible
and speaking as slowly as I can. 'We are now going to try and re-construct
what we saw. We will all have lots of images in our heads and images
will be sparked off by what others say. Before we start sharing
these images, there is one rule. When someone is talking your task
is to try and see what they say and, as much as you can, to let
go of your own images in order to do that ... Okay, could someone
offer us an image from the very beginning of the film. What did
One rule I give myself is not to speak second.
With many groups the second speaker will not make a comment related
to the first. If this happens I will remind the group of the rule
and invite a comment about what the first speaker said.
I am not sure it is possible to say much more
about working with film (and I have possibly said too much already)
except to try it out!
I offer below some questions and comments specific to each animation
that may be useful either as a way of focusing discussion or to
work on with a class before viewing.
trigonometry - a key element to discussion of
this animation is deciding an unambiguous way of refering to where
the point is on the circumference. If this is established it is
possible to ask: when is the red/sine line a half?
polyominoes - how many shapes can you make with
5/6 squares? (The idea for the sequencing of pentominoes and hexominoes
offered in these animations was inspired by a poster by Laurinda
Brown, which in turn was inspired by a conversation between Alastair
McCleod, Chris Smy, Fiona Clemes, Alf Coles, Laurinda Brown and
mystic roses - how many lines are needed to complete
any mystic rose?
van shooten's theorem - inscribe an equilateral
triangle in a circle. Draw a point on the circumference and join
it to all three vertices. How are these three lengths related?
parallel lines - what do you see? How many angles
tessellation - find me a quadrilateral that
will not tessellate