Get Cooking with Illuminations

  • Get Cooking with Illuminations

    Matthew Jacques

    Matthew Jaques, ninth and tenth grade teacher for Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts, discovered Illuminations by way of Bright Ideas and has been using, modifying and creating his own lessons ever since. "I consider Illuminations to be like a good recipe book," said Jaques. "Any good cook knows the best recipes are the ones that have been tried and tested to perfection."

    Just as any good cook isn't afraid to add new ingredients to a recipe, Jaques isn't afraid to modify lessons to fit his classroom. "I'm able to modify the lessons to fit my students, which allows them to connect to the materials in a different, more effective, manner."

    He has seen his students take to the Illuminations lessons, because the lesson apply topics discussed in class in a way that is creative and thought-provoking.  Students in his class particularly enjoy being able to use tactile objects to develop their mathematical thinking. "From a teaching perspective, seeing that 'a-ha,' Illumination moment that comes from these lessons is certainly fulfilling."

    One lesson such lesson is Inequalities in Triangles in which students use spaghetti noodles to demonstrate how the sum of two sides of a triangle is always larger than the third. Through this activity, Jaques' students were able to discover the inequalities for themselves, making them more knowledgeable.

    Jaques doesn't rely solely on Illuminations, though. He also holds an annual golf tournament in his classroom as a way to prepare his students for geometry. In the Mr. Jaques Protractor Mini Golf Classic, students review angle measure estimation as they guess the angle and distance it would take to make a shot.

    In the future, Jaques will continue to develop his own lessons and looks forward to integrating Illumination lessons that allow students to use technology.

    Check out the article "Reflections on Miniature Golf" that appeared in The Mathematics Teacher , October 1994.