Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Playing Maths: "It is Half... No, it is 1 Upon 6... No, it is Half... No,it is...."

Few days back, I was assessing a bunch of 6th & 7th class students in a school – asking them some practical questions (in a friendly way) to gauge their conceptual understanding.  Having done this exercise with a host of schools across the spectrum, I have a decent amount of variety of responses of students by now. And I am so thrilled by the quality of learning that happens by analyzing this type of first-hand experiences that now I wish, some day, to systematically compile and publish/post it in a form such that it would be accessible/useful to all the interested learners. I don’t know when this will happen, but I do share and seek observations while interacting with the schools/teachers/parents during the workshops/study-circles.  And then, a thought crossed my mind as to why not, meanwhile, share this information in our group? 

So here I go –   (while waiting for your observations/ comments/ views) -

The student is shown the following pieces spread on one of the desks.

​​After giving her around a minute to play with these pieces on her own, I drew her attention to the full circular piece. 

​​“What shape is this?”


“Hmm.... Do you eat something of this shape at home?”

“Yes... Chapati...papad”

“Right! So let’s say this is your one-full chapatti”, while handing over that piece to her.

Now I take another piece in my hand and ask her,” So how much chapati would this be?”

“Half” (super fast response!)

“Ok. Can you write ‘half’ using numerals?” 

She writes: 1/2

“Good. Is there any other way of reading this notation?”

“One upon two.”

“OK.” I replace this piece with another and continue “Ok. So what about this piece then?”


She compared it with Half and said, “It’s one upon four”

 “Ok. Let’s write this using numerals?”

She writes:  1/4

“And why this ’4’?”