jeanie macnamara▸ U4: Math Connections

I have been doing a ceramics unit with my ILC (Intensive Language Centre) art students. My students are all migrant refugees or asylum seekers with very limited English language skills and are aged between 12 and 20+.
In the ceramics unit we have been looking at nets of solids, starting with commonly used functional geometric forms (such as plastic take away food containers) and moving onto triangular prisms and hexagonal pyramids etc. Many students have limited or no previous formal education, so we have done a great deal of measuring and recording of the lengths of the forms' sides and are currently moving onto measuring and recording the angles of the forms. At this point we are working mainly on creating paper nets and forms, in preparation for converting these into ceramic works.
Throughout the unit, students have been embellishing the sides of their paper nets, so that they are prepared with designs for embellishing the sides of their chosen ceramic form. One of the tasks we used to create their design involved computational thinking. Students were given a simple instruction for a design element to be put onto the side of their net. This was followed by a repeat statement. Students carried out this task and then were given an IF/ELSE statement, based on the design choices they made. These statements directed them to another desk, where they followed another set of instructions, continuing until they had been to each of the six desks.
They had quite a lot of fun with this activity, which involved reading instructions, discussing decisions and making aesthetic choices. One of the more unexpected but probably the most powerful learning that was achieved in this session was when they got stuck in a loop that involved them returning to the same table repeatedly and having to work out how to move onto another table through the IF/ELSE instructors.
I doubt if the students will use these designs on their final artworks (the aesthetics got lost somewhere in the game), but they certainly engaged in the process.

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