Teaching approaches: Visualisation

From OER in Education

Visualisation can be a powerful tool in modelling various problems, writing approaches, activities, and so on. It can also be useful in helping pupils to reason, and engage in higher order thinking around problem solving, by using a variety of tools, for example brainstorms to plan essays, consider pros and cons, to address problems in enquiry learning, and so on. Argument mapping, concept mapping, brain storming, mind mapping, diagramming and mathematical modelling (including using tools like Geogebra), writing frames, visual narratives (for example using animation software), and many more provide excellent ways to use visualisation to support high quality reasoning which can be shared collaboratively.

Relevant resources

Investigation Consecutive Sums
Can all numbers be made in this way? For example 9=2+3+4, 11=5+6, 12=3+4+5, 20=2+3+4+5+6
By definition, a problem is something that you do not immediately know how to solve, so learning how to solve something unfamiliar is not straightforward. Tackling an extended problem is difficult.

This lesson gives pupils an opportunity to engage in mathematical thinking(ta) and develop their higher order(ta) thinking skills on a problem that is accessible but which has interest. For example, the problem is presented in diagrammatic and numerical ways.

The plan suggests several visualisation(ta) methods to present the same underlying task. It should be useful for teachers to compare these different presentations and either to select the one that they feel will be most useful for their pupils or explore ways for the pupils to see the links between the different methods. The assessment(ta) ideas, using other pupils' solutions from the NRICH website are widely applicable to other problems too.

Modelling Models in Science
Teachers use models to help pupils make sense of their observations
An opportunity for teachers to discuss the use of modelling(ta) and visualisation(ta) in Key stage 3 science
Sampling Sampling techniques to assess population size
This lesson offers students an opportunity to use their existing knowledge to analyse a ‘real scientific publication’ and its language(ta) and link this to scientific method(ta).
  • They use study skills(topic) to skim read, make sense of complex language, and use visualisation(ta) to select relevant information
  • They engage in collaborative(tool) group work(ta) using reasoning(ta) and skills in peer assessment(ta)
  • They engage in dialogue(ta) and questioning(ta) to explore ideas together
  • They also think about how to present information using ICT(i) tools)
Statistics Cubic Equations and Their Roots
To interactiviley explore and understand complex mathematics with GeoGebra
This lesson features a ‘real life’ example for students to explore using visualisation(ta) via GeoGebra. The focus on ‘real life’ increases student motivation.

The activity engages pupils in group talk(ta), mathematical thinking(ta) and vocabulary(ta). This open ended(ta) task encourages higher order(ta) thinking, and encourages whole class(ta) discussion(ta)/questioning(ta) and inquiry(ta) projects.

Visualisation Perimeter of a rectangle.
Interactive GeoGebra investigation that allows children (age 6-10) to explore an element of mathematics for themselves.
Visualisation Using visualisation in maths teaching
Thinking about visualisation in education.
This unit looks at visualisation(ta) as it relates to mathematics, focusing upon how it can be used to improve learning. It also identifies ways in which to make more use of visualisation within the classroom.