n Learning and Teaching Mathematics - Teaching strategies and activities that enhance spatial visualization

Volume 2012, Issue 13
  • ISSN : 1990-6811


Russell and Nicole are working together on a project in their seventh grade mathematics class. Mrs. Jones, their teacher, asks them to count the number of squares that they can find on a standard 8 by 8 chessboard. Nicole has limited prior experiences with activities such as these, but she easily counts all the small squares and concludes that 64 is the total number of the squares on the 8 by 8 chessboard (or checkerboard). Russell, on the other hand, had played on his Nintendo and Game Boy for five years and was also a self-proclaimed expert at the game of Tetris. In addition to the 64 squares that Nicole found, Russell tells Mrs. Jones that there are additional squares formed by groups of the small squares. Nicole just did not "see" these other squares on her first count. Scenarios like these occur frequently in mathematics classrooms where students are developing the foundation required for higher levels of mathematics. It is important that teachers find ways to enhance students' spatial sense not only for future success in mathematics but also to enhance students' interests and talents in maths-related fields such as the physical sciences, architecture, computer-aided design, geographic information systems, and graphic design (Allen, 2003; Lury & Massey, 1999; Mark & Egenhofer, 1994).

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