“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

If I meet a friend and did not take a picture, did it really happen?

Cos that’s what happened this evening! I met up with my friend Stacey-Lee who’s here for the weekend, and we were so engrossed in conversation that we forgot to ask for the menu, almost didn’t order any food, and didn’t take photos!


Reflection: tangram activity PLUS! an idea for a class project using tangram pictures!

Tangram (Image: Wikimedia)

I loved working with the tangram! I loved the challenge that Dr. Yeap posed- such as “I wonder if we can make a rectangle with three pieces” and “Did anyone manage to make a rectangle with five pieces?”

The way the questions were posed hinted at the possibility of the task- at the back of my mind I was thinking “OOOOOOH it can be done and I must try!” Soon, I was trying to make rectangles using all the pieces and was well pleased with myself for being able to make a rectangle using all seven pieces!

Making pictures using pieces of a tangram (Image: http://www.clccharter.org)

What made this particular activity with the tangram great is the use of

  1. the CPA approach: it is a concrete activity- you get to move the pieces around and discover different ways
  2. SCAFFOLDING: the teacher asked questions that set students thinking about the next step ie. help in the student’s learning process
  3. MODELLING: teacher and classmates demonstrated how certain shapes were achieved

Dr. Yeap asked if we knew any books featuring tangrams and he introduced us to Grandfather Tang’s Story, which is based on a Chinese folktale. I learnt that the tangram was traditionally used by Chinese storytellers as visual aid! You can expect tangrams at my next storytelling session :D

When I did a Google search, I found another book featuring the tangram.

You know what I think will be an interesting class activity using the tangram? (What what what?) Get each child to create a character or feature using different pieces, and incorporate these elements in a story. Publish the class story ala Writer’s Workshop!

The Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract Approach: An Acronym is born

Wah! FREE!
Really, internet? Where do I queue?!?!

If yesterday’s entry mentioned Piaget’s Constructivism and Vygotsky’s Social-Cultural theory, let’s now talk about Jerome Bruner, who suggests that there are three steps (or representations) necessary for pupils to develop understanding of a concept

The three steps are:- 

  1. Concrete representation
    This means using real objects such as cookies, unifix cubes, counters, beads, and blocks, to solve problems. 
  2. Pictorial representation
    Putting the concrete into pictures- using shapes for example, to represent the objects. 
  3. Abstract representation (sometimes called Symbolic representation)
    No concrete material or picture representation is used- instead, use numbers and math symbols. 

The goal of mathematics is the ability to handle abstraction. To achieve this, students must be able to do math in concrete, then pictorial representations before being able to do the abstract. In fact, the CPA approach does not just apply to mathematics but to other areas of learning as well. 

Jussssssssssst in case you think the CPA approach ends in preschool, NOPE! It is also used in Primary schools around Singapore