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Digital Images + Interactive Software = Enjoyable, Real Mathematics Modeling

Using a Journal Article as a Professional Development Experience


Title:          Digital Images + Interactive Software = Enjoyable, Real Mathematics Modeling
Author:      Andy Ventress
Journal:     Mathematics Teacher
Issue:        April 2008, Volume 101, Issue 8, pp. 568-572

Rationale/Suggestions for Use

The concept of mathematical modeling is a topic that receives much attention when connecting concepts to real-world scenarios. “What models can teachers use and how can these models be used to make teaching and learning more engaging and meaningful for students?" This article goes beyond just providing participants with strategies to use digital cameras as a tool to capture images for use in the classroom by incorporating mathematical modeling. This article may be used with pre-service teachers or by in-service teachers interested in exploring ways to incorporate the use of digital cameras in their classroom.


Goal: Participants will capture real world images and determine how to use them in an instructional setting.

  1. Ask participants to brainstorm real-world images that they would like to display in their classrooms that might illustrate a mathematical concept. Have them add several images that might occur in the school building.
  2. Use this list to create a scavenger hunt and assign each group a digital camera and two-three images to find in the building and capture on camera.
  3. Display images from the scavenger hunt and have the participants identify how the image may be used to illustrate a mathematics concept.
  4. Have participants read the entire article and discuss additional ideas for the use of digital images in the mathematics classroom. Encourage the participants to consider how these ideas can be used in a culminating project for any unit. (Note: While they are reading the article download several of the images and save them as jpeg files to be imported into the Geometer’s Sketchpad or other software. Select images that can be used to generate a mathematics model.)
  5. Have the participants use the process outlined in the article to determine a mathematical model for each of the images (pp. 569-570, “Once the image is pasted into GSP… (see fig. 4)”. For those images that are not appropriate for mathematical models briefly discuss how the image can be used to illustrate a mathematical concept.

Next Steps/Extensions 

  1. Ask the participants to gather digital images to create a resource of digital images. Have the participants work in small groups to identify mathematical concepts and possible use for each image.
  2. Lead a discussion on the benefits of using digital images in the mathematics instruction.
  3. Possible questions for the facilitator:
  • How might the use of digital images be used to actively engage students in the mathematics?
  • How do digital images make connections to real-world phenomenon?
  • What are some additional topics/images that you would like to have so that you can use them in the classroom?

Connections to Other NCTM Publications:


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