Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Clap Hands - a motion pattern game

This game must exist in some form elsewhere, but it came to me yesterday and we worked out a good version of it with my preservice teachers this morning.

It starts with getting to do some of Malke Rosenfeld's Math in Your Feet this summer at Twitter Math Camp, and then subsequent discussions with her that have me thinking a lot about embodied cognition. The example of this in Math in Your Feet was knowing what I needed to do but the challenge of getting my body to do. Move left foot, move! In discussions, she connects this powerfully to research and writing of Seymour Papert. She said something like:
embodied vs “non-embodied” from the research: there is no non-embodied math. Either we’re pulling from previous lived-in-the-world experience to learn, or we’re actively constructing our understanding of self moving in space. We can harness that to give students an understanding of the world.
She's deep that way.

On our first day of class, one of the things we did was watch Ken Robinson's Do Schools Kill Creativity?  (If you haven't watched it, give it a go. He's a powerful speaker on creativity, and as close to Ricky Gervais as we're going to get in academia.) The student response from my class was really focused on movement. The Gillian Lynne story especially seemed to resonate; good omens for some of the learning I hope to do this semester.

So today we're studying patterns. First activity was pulling out the pattern blocks. We used that to model how to introduce math manipulatives to elementary students, and introduce the principle that with a new manipulative you need free play. Either immediately or promise the students specifically when they will get it. (Good management meets good pedagogy.) We used free play to introduce the question: is this free play doing math? Which we discussed in Elizabeth's Talking Points structure. (Fabulous, even the first time out.) Then in whole group used our examples to discuss the difference between a design and a pattern. (Is there a difference to you? I'd love to know what you think about that.)

Then it was time to go outside...

Clap Hands

groups of 4 to 7 people

Arrange people in circles of about 6. The game is pretty simple:

  • One player starts, introducing a motion. Like, for example, a simple clap. Going around the circle, each player does the motion.
  • After the starting player does the motion, the next player adds a motion. Clap hands, raise right hand. Each player does the 2 part sequence.
  • After the second player does their two, the next player adds a motion. Clap hands, raise right hand, turn around clockwise.
  • And so on, until each player has added a motion and it has gone around. Clap hands, raise right, spin right, jump, snap fingers, shake right foot twice.
  • The goal is to get the pattern to go around twice more. When it does, that pattern is complete!
  • If a player messes up the sequence, they step out. Try to get twice around from there.
  • If you get down to two people, the pattern is done.

I didn't get video because I needed to play this! Thanks to Jordan and other students who had great suggestions. Reaction to the game was very positive, and people were quite engaged. There was much laughter, too. Keeper!

I'm interested in your feedback on the game, and how you present patterns. So if you have time to tweet or comment, let me know.

1 comment:

  1. Some plans for patterns. Most of these I have done with my own children, some are still waiting to be used . . . patternpost

    There is an improv comedy game similar to your clap-hands game: go around the circle and everyone has to say the name of the person on their left, whenever they hear their own name said. Next, everyone thinks of a fruit. Going around the circle again, you have to say your fruit when you hear the person to your left say their fruit. Next, the leader starts by saying their fruit (starting the fruits heading around counter-clockwise) and the name of the person on their left (sending the names clockwise).

    For the next level of difficulty, you mix up the participants of the circle, but everyone's triggers stay the same. Finally, you can add one (or two) more topics (for example, places or modes of transportation) to go around the newly formed circle (along with the original two).