Abstract / Synopsis

As mathematics teachers, we hope our students will approach problems with a spirit of creativity. One way to both model and encourage this spirit – and, at the same time, to keep ourselves from getting bored – is through creative approaches to problem design. In this paper, we discuss ``TACTivities'' – mathematical activities with a tactile component – as a creative outlet for those of us who teach mathematics, and as a resource for stimulating creative thinking in our students. We use examples, such as our ``derivative fridge magnets'' TACTivity, to illustrate the main ideas. We emphasize that TACTivities can be engaging, to teachers and learners alike, at any level of mathematics, by including examples from different mathematics courses (cal- culus and mathematics for elementary teachers). As an example, our derivative fridge magnets have moving pieces of words that look like small refrigerator magnets. These small pieces can be combined to make true mathematical statements, of the form d/dx (some function) = some other function. There was creativity involved in the creation of these magnets, as the mathematics had to be challenging enough not to bore students yet have an easy entry for students to be successful. The students working with the magnets can use their creativity along with their mathematical knowledge while learning and/or reviewing a mathematical concept – in this case derivatives. We will expand on the creative side of the creation and implementation of TACTivities in this paper. Note that our definition of ``tactile'' only means moving pieces (usually pieces of paper), as this is different than work from others that involves tactile props -- e.g. pipe cleaners, yarn, Spirographs, building blocks, and so on. This other work is invaluable, and we use props like these ourselves at times, but we believe that our TACTivities add a different dimension to tactile learning.



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