Overall aim: To see if I could use thinking tools to help students to plan and create a roman mosaic

Thinking Aim: To try and identify the parameters that make up a mosaic and specifically a Roman mosaic. To then decide on the values of these parameters and produce an algorithm that would help students understand the steps necessary to create a successful mosaic.

Reflection

The students finished their mosaics this week, and while I am pleased with the results of their art work, I do not feel that I was successful in using thinking to produce these results. We tested our algorithm yesterday, and as I suspected it was not successful or particularly useful. Students were given a new image in groups and asked to transform it into a roman mosaic only using the algorithm. The first thing they did was start to draw, so I stopped them and asked what they were doing. They explained that they were drawing an outline, but I pointed out that this was not on the algorithm so they were not allowed to do this. Some of the steps were useful for example select three colours, but some were difficult to apply such as - make the nose a rectangle. I could see that one of the reasons it didn`t work was because we had mixed up writing steps for creating and mosaic and writing steps for describing a mosaic. As a class we reflected on the steps and discussed what was missing, and what should be removed if this were to be useful as a creation algorithm.

I think that part of the reason that it did not work was that I chose too wide an approach. Similar in a way to giving students a novel and asking them to identify all parameters and values that would allow someone to both describe and create a similar novel. I thought about how I would approach this if I were teaching a language and I decided that I would select one grammar point to work on at a time (instead of deconstructing the whole novel) and that this was the way I need to go with art as well. So I have decided that I will select one aspect that I want them to learn and try to incorporate thinking into that one aspect.

#### Comments

# Edgar Lasevich 2011-04-15 13:54
Hi Gilian,
Well, as you are pleased with results - it should mean already something..:) I am happy to hear you are progressing. Now, everything you did was ok and many things for the first time look good. Where is there space for improvement?
1. You accepted that the algorithm will work from the start and were not ready to work on it further. It is a bit too optimistic erxpectation. You have to expect that things will not work from the beginning as they should and prepare for steps you will take which will allow students improve their results. So, the usual approach is to try to imagine what students have as algorithms and prepare a follow-up steps to make them improve. In your case, you could go many ways, but for example - sort out algorithm steps into categories - primary and secondary, constant and changeable, etc. Make little discussion and leave only primary (important) steps. Also, you could make your own mosaic that would stick to student steps but would be very wrong and make discussion with the class whatneeds to be improved.
2. It is important to see the dynamic development of this algorithm, so that it becomes a tool. So, I would suggest after you try to work on different material and build a new tool - you could plan some activity that helps students understand similarities/differences in between both algorithms and see if there is some certain unchangeable "core" and some changeable elements. Also, you could ask them in groups to now try to see if they may use their algorithm-construction knowledge to build algorithm for aother type of mosaic and make work by themselves (project homework).
3. To escape the "too wide" or "too close" approaches, you just have to see yourself the "level" of statements in the steps of algorithm. As we discussed at some point, there are usual things to regulate the flow of the process - to investigate somthing "closer" - you just make groups and ask each group to work on their little part and then make one big tool out of it; to go "higher" you sort out and concentrate on primary statements.
Do not also stop on just mosaic. You do not have to bore your students with endless improvement of 1 algorithm - if you have to, move to the next topic and see how the same approach works there and then you can always make a task at a "super-level" whenyou make a task which allows students work with the results of their previous works. I would be happy to help plan if youneed an advice... :) Just share the plan.
# Gillian Boniface 2011-05-20 12:16
Yes, please help! Can I mail you my plan and the resources that I have selected and you can help me with how to proceed with this?

Thanks
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