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Lesson Plans

tessellation creativity....

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Bunki Kramer (
Fri, 3 Jul 1998 17:54:34 -0700

Tessellations are fasinating to students and me alike. The different
mechanics of cutting are fairly easy to find if you do a smidgeon of
research in the library or with Seymour Publications in Menlo Park, CA. The
publisher...Dale Seymour (now retired) a strong advocate of
tessellations and has written many books on the subject which are available
with his publishing company (which sells educational materials). He also
organized an international tessellation contest for several yrs.(K-12 plus
teachers) until it grew so large, it became unmanageable. I think the
company no longer does it, unfortunately.

He has 2-3 books of the winners of his past tessellation contests...again,
K-12 plus teachers. I use overheads taken from this book to show
"creativity" at all levels. This also presents an unspoken challenge to my
mid. schoolers when they see what a K or 1st grader can do.

I approach tessellations from a slightly diff. angle. There's discussion of
what it is and where it came from...Escher and the Alhambra. I show
examples from book on overhead and original previous student examples. I
don't go into mechanics yet.
I use a previously cut tessellation piece done on transparency and I flip
and turn it in many directions on the overhead. We brainstorm what it
"could" be made into. In other words, I'm going for the "creative" approach
first. I give them sheets of ditto paper with diff. precut tessellated
squares printed on them...5 on a page. They spend the rest of the period
(or homework) filling them in with diff. ideas. I have sheets done of 3
diff. kinds. At end of period, I collect them and that afternoon I pick out
the best ones, cut them out, run off a copy of the best ones on 3-4 sheets
of transparencies and next day we look at them. I also have collected
"idea" tessellated squares from previous classes and now show them these.
Now they can see, using the exact same beginning tessellated square, what
others have found and they start seeing, thinking creatively. They get
blown-away, excited at this point and ready to dive into the mechanics.
This is the main reason why I do the creativity bit before cutting. Other
reasons are just as important. "AS" they cut, they can start thinking
creatively, you don't have to worry about losing tessellated squares while
you're discussing creativity, and you can hook 'em and keep their interest
before you've even handed out the scissors.

We use cut (like tagboard) notecards with tiny blue lines drawn on them.
This helps kids line up their moving sides and make it exact when taping.
They each make a slide square, a rotating square, and a flip square. They
pick their favorite one with the most potential and tessellate it 5 times
on piece of ditto paper. They come up with 5 drawings before they pick
their favorite idea. Now I show them how to cut into their cut piece so
they can reproduce the insides across the page. Our project is done on
12x18 with colored pencils.

We've had some beautiful, thoughtful, magical creations which have won some
local, state, and international awards at the mid. school level. I feel
much of our success has been due to thoroughly examining the creative side
of this project. Either that or we were damn lucky!

Bunki Kramer
Los Cerros Middle School
968 Blemer Rd.
Danville, California 94526