A Quilting Lesson for Early Childhood Preservice and Regular Classroom Teachers: What Constitutes Mathematical Activity?

Shelly Sheats Harkness, Lisa Portwood

Abstract


In this narrative of teacher educator action research, the idea for and the context of the lesson emerged as a result of conversations between Shelly, a mathematics teacher educator, and Lisa, a quilter, about real-life mathematical problems related to Lisa’s work as she created the templates for a reproduction quilt. The lesson was used with early childhood preservice teachers in a mathematics methods course and with K-2 teachers who participated in a professional development workshop that focused on geometry and measurement content. The goal of the lesson was threefold: (a) to help the participants consider a nonstandard real-world contextual problem as mathematical activity, (b) to create an opportunity for participants to mathematize (Freudenthal, 1968), and (c) to unpack mathematical big ideas related to measurement and similarity. Participants’ strategies were analyzed, prompting conversations about these big ideas, as well as an unanticipated one.


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