Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Visualization is an important part of geometrical thinking. It's the skill you use when you pretend to be somewhere else and imagine how that place looks, or when you fancy how a situation would look if things were just a little bit different.
But visualization is especially problematic in three dimensionsperhaps because math curricula do not emphasize three-dimensional geometry. Some people have a hard time, for example, rotating an object in their minds to see how it would look from a different angle. When looking at a map, others find it hard both to imagine where they are on the map and to grasp the relationships of the map objects around them.
Probe your space visualization skills and get practice with the three activities below. Review the background to each activity for additional ideas and connections.
If you think that practicing spatial visualization is the same as fantasizing, you are rightin a sense. But it's practical fantasy. Consider these examples:
So spatial visualization has everyday application. It's not just preparation for the abstract geometry class you may never take. And if you, for any reason, consider yourself (or your students) not very good at this kind of thing, be assured; it can be learned. You do improve with practice.
The new NCTM Standards explicitly include visualization as an item under Chapter 3: Geometry. In the detailed description for grades 35, for example, the Council elaborates:
In the overview for grades preK12, it also explains: