Snowflake Exploration, Part I

posted Jun 14, 2012, 6:02 PM by Mairead Greene   [ updated Jun 15, 2012, 8:53 AM ]
Students are usually a little hesitant to get started on this activity as they are not confident in their ability to read the instructions given for forming the snowflake. It is very common to get called over to a group and asked "What do I do?". I never answer this question but push students instead to start to make sense of the instructions given for the recursive process. Making sense of this not only helps them better understand what's going on which is helpful for the rest of the activity but it also sets the tone for the rest of the class. Students are going to have to read and puzzle things out for themselves in this class. This does not mean that we are not going to help them but it does mean that I won't stand and translate everything that is already written in an activity. Reading and doing mathematics independently is a goal of this class. I usually talk to the class quite frankly about this as it comes up. About half the students will have a lot of trouble generalizing to the n'th snowflake by themselves. This is a place where I judge the frustration level in the class - I generally leave them working on it while I feel like productive discussions are happening but bring them together for a class discussion when I feel like groups have either pretty much got it or have given up. It is very important that students end with a good understanding of this activity as the next activity builds on this and gets more difficult for students as it deals with the infinite case.