Whenever I visit a classroom there are always one or two students who ask me why I like to visit classes. My response is always the same – I love learning about their learning. It’s a combination of seeing how the students are engaging with different concepts, identifying practices that are supporting student learning and also keeping an eye out for things we can improve.
Today, I had the chance to see how some of our 4th graders were doing in their most recent art project revolved around radial symmetry. I was really excited by Ms. Tiff’s choice to work around this concept because there is so much room for exploration. What is symmetry? What distinguishes radial symmetry from linear symmetry? What is the radius of a circle and how can we potentially gather clues from the term radial symmetry?
I decided to ask a few students these questions in order to check their level of understanding and these are some of the responses I heard back.
“Symmetry is when you draw a line down the middle of a picture and the two sides are like reflections.”
“Radial symmetry means that you have an image that repeats all the way around the circle.”
“The radius is the distance from the center to the perimeter. So, they call it radial symmetry because the reflection starts at the center of the circle and goes all the way around.”
I appreciated how the students explained their understanding using their own words, which showed that they truly grasped the concept and weren’t simply parroting back a memorized definition. It was a wonderful example of how we aim to help children not only grasp the big ideas but simultaneously develop the ability to articulate their ideas and understanding of concepts.