In a previous blog I listed a few ideas of how to incorporate student-created work in the classroom as an alternate to using commercially produced or teacher-created posters or representations that often provide too much stimulus for young students. This sentiment is echoed in Stop Classroom Clutter where it is suggested that;

“Too often, clutter passes for quality …”

Stop Classroom Clutter, Colette Bennett

The article also gives advice on what decorations to choose in the form of questions to ask yourself:

- What purpose does this poster, sign or display serve?
- Do these posters, signs, or items celebrate or support student learning?
- Are the posters, signs, or displays current with what is being learned in the classroom?
- Can the display be made interactive?
- Is there white space in between wall displays to help the eye distinguish what is in the display?
- Can students contribute to decorating the classroom (ask “What do you think could go inside that space?”)

Choral Counting in a K&1 class at @gcitywildcats this morning. This was the 1st time I have used a ten frame structure to inform my recording of the students’ count.

— Janice Novakowski (@jnovakowski38) February 27, 2019

They noticed so many patterns and connected the repetition to the two rows of five in the ten frame.#sd38learn pic.twitter.com/iVu0j8AKkm

What a great connection to make for students between representations. https://t.co/0lR0QL4gvw

— katherin cartwright (@kath_cartwright) February 28, 2019

That is where it is at; connecting representations. Should be principle 101 of good maths teaching!

— Prime Number (@PrimeNumber_MAV) March 1, 2019

In the past couple of weeks I have noticed more and more teachers sharing wonderful ways they are involving students in the choice of what appears on their walls or in the creation of what representations are being produced. This is especially important in mathematics where students need opportunities to first use and share their own representations for mathematical concepts prior to us (the teachers) introducing mathematical representations.

Hard at work solving @robertkaplinsky and #openmiddle problem. Kids love it! pic.twitter.com/ywy26jYVbc

— Dorothy Johnston (@dottymj01) February 27, 2019

#Scatterplots ! A team scatter plot! Today we added our line of best fit. The only way to fully grasp the concept is if students know the data in and out. They are labeling part of their data! #iteachmath #bivariatedata #mtbos pic.twitter.com/W9cu28c6Wi

— Nickeva Jones, Ed.S (@tenaciousXpert) March 1, 2019

Math can be messy! Wasn’t sure if @SteveWyborney’s #estymystery #3 would be too difficult for these guys, but boy, did they rise to the challenge! Trying to record their math thinking, but the ideas just kept coming! @orioleparkjps @tdsb #mathtalk #excitement! pic.twitter.com/CugPUnVspJ

— Maran Shona (@MrsShonasClass) February 20, 2019

“… children’s self-generated representations may more closely reflect their level of conceptual understanding than their responses to imposed conventional representations.”

Building Connections Between Children’s Representations and Their Conceptual Development in Mathematics, Bobis & Way

“Supporting children to make explicit connections between their representations and mathematical concepts is an essential activity for early childhood teachers.”

Building Connections Between Children’s Representations and Their Conceptual Development in Mathematics, Bobis & Way

In the Bobis and Way (2018) paper, they note that often teachers use representations without considering what part the model plays in the learning process or how the students may interpret and process the representations. Students should be encouraged to draw images themselves to explain their thinking. The co-creation of mathematical representations are far more powerful than using pre-made models. Representing student thinking needs to happen in-situ and needs to be negotiated with the students. When leading whole group discussions, instead of already having a range of slides with pre-made representations of mathematical strategies or processes, the teacher should draw representations *as the students share their thinking*. As you do this though, ask the student clarifying questions to ensure that what you are drawing matches what the student is thinking/sharing.

Remember that the math is not in the model to be seen; the math ideas are in a child's mind. Kids only see in the array what they have already constructed about arrays. Models go through stages of construction from models of a situation, to a strategy, to tools for thinking. https://t.co/xoiMWXkuJO

— cathy fosnot (@ctfosnot) February 20, 2019

The following are a number of tweets that are moving towards this focus of co-created representations or creating representations ** with** students, not

*students. Some of these examples also include displays around the classroom for students to reflect on or add to, allowing interaction and thinking to occur.*

**for**Love the Velcro pieces! #mtbos #pandasquares @DavidKButlerUoA https://t.co/lgZUEe7CoX

— Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove) November 8, 2017

Who said maths isn't fun?...not 5/6M! Especially when it's outdoors 👍☀️. @PsCondell @Meganlb66 #bridgingstrategy #placevalue #ProblemSolving pic.twitter.com/vs6ieHCqcK

— Souha Malak (@MissMalak5_6M) February 28, 2019

Mathematicians in 1 Marri sharpening their reasoning skills through some healthy mathematical debate @McCallumsHillPS pic.twitter.com/85ufbXmTwB

— Dimitra Giann (@DimitraGiann1) February 27, 2019

#### References

Bobis, J., Way, J. (2018). Building connections between children’s representations and their conceptual development in mathematics. In V. Kinnear, M. Y. Lai, T. Muir (Eds.), *Forging connections in early mathematics teaching and learning*, (pp. 55-72). Singapore: Springer.

Stop classroom Clutter by Colette Bennett accessed via https://www.thoughtco.com/decorating-your-classroom-4077035 on Sunday 3 March 2019