Maths Image Talks

I was browsing polymer clay beads on Pinterest when I came across this display and ding, my head went to maths. It made me think image talks so thought I would share this.

There are many ways of using this image and inviting comments and I wonders about the display. The first I wonders I heard when I showed it this week included:

Who did it, why?
How many beads are there?
How do you make those shapes?
Why are there triangles in the middle of the squares?
Are the round beads the most?

All valuable questions that could be explored.

My head went to multiplication, arrays and connections to area, because I am presenting workshops on multiplicative thinking at the moment (Yes, online in webinars and Zoom rooms and Webex).

Some of you will be familiar with the Number Talks that we have made part of our Building Multiplicative Skills material. When I saw this picture of beads, I was drawn to the idea of promoting Maths Image Talks, where an image is shown to students and they use the image as a springboard for talking maths. So here is the image, annotated with possible talking points.

The Identity Property

We take it for granted that students just know their 1s. But do they? We’ve all heard students answer 5 when asked

“What’s four 1s?”

It’s not a common array that we talk about.

Double Double – 4 + 4 + 4 + 4

A useful strategy used when moving from repeated addition is the double double shown here in green.

(4 × 4) – (4 × 1)

The blue box encloses an array that could be used to look for flexible strategies for working at how many cube beads. More ways than just the one shown and a good lead into the use of brackets.

Mixed Shape

There comes a time when students are expected to find the area of combined shapes, and here we have one outlined in red, 4 × 3 + 2 × 1 and we can talk about the precedence of operations (BIMDAS for some) where the multiplications are carried out before additions aso that the expression I wrote is unambiguous.

Over to you

Why not try an image talk with your class. I’d love to hear your ideas for using this image with your class.

If multiplicative thinking is on your radar, hop over to our website where you will find our Multiplication Strategy Mat and some samples of our Building Multiplicative Thinking resources.

Have maths fun and enjoy your weekend.