Where do topics pertaining to the History of Mathematics fit in our mathematics frameworks? The Fibonacci sequence is a concept rich in problem solving potential and real world application, that too few teachers are aware of. This post will offer some practice and content connections for the Fibonacci sequence, and will include directions for one of my favorite designs, the Fibonacci Quilt.

I recorded a background of the Fibonacci Sequence, which I show students.

When we provide “low threshold, high ceiling” problems for students to solve, they learn to “make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.” (Math Practice 1). Besides the rabbit problem, there is an interesting science application that produces the Fibonacci numbers. It is found in the family tree of a male bee. Turns out, a female bee has two parents: a male and a female, but a male bee has only one parent: a female. When you trace the genealogy of a male bee backwards, the Fibonacci numbers will be revealed.

Ratios and proportions are topics that are foundational to algebra. Beginning in grade 6, students connect ratio and rate to multiplication and division. In grade 7, students solve multi step problems involving ratios, rate, proportion and percent. Grade 7 students recognize proportional relationships from context, equations, tables and graphs. In grade 8, students deepen their knowledge of proportional relationships and explore functions. In high school mathematics, students solve problems involving trigonometric ratios and rate of change. A ratio is a comparison of two numbers.

The Fibonacci numbers are a recursive sequence of numbers, {1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, …} in which each new term is the sum of the two previous terms. We can represent a Fibonacci number by Fn, and the next successive Fibonacci number by F(n+1). It is interesting to consider the limit of (Fn) ÷ (Fn+1), as n tends toward infinity. This special ratio is one of the most famous irrational numbers, phi. Also called the Golden Ratio, phi, is approximately 1.61803398…

The so-called Golden Ratio can be found throughout nature. The golden ratio, or the ratio of the length to the width of a golden rectangle, can be found in the nautilus shell, in art, architecture, and faces like Mona Lisa that are considered beautiful to behold. Besides being found in nature, beautiful designs can be constructed using the Fibonacci numbers. The Fibonacci spiral can be constructed using graph paper, a straight edge and a compass. Mathsisfun.com provides directions and information on the Fibonacci spiral. One of my students made the spiral you see below.

Another design I am particularly fond of is the Fibonacci Quilt. My students made the two shown below. The directions for making the Fibonacci Quilt are:

Use a sheet of graph paper and divide it into four quadrants.

Start in the first quadrant. On the very first row of squares above the “positive x-axis”, make rectangles of height 1, using two alternating colors with widths 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.

Then, above that row, using alternating colors, make another row of rectangles, still of height 1, with widths 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.

Above that row, make another row of rectangles of height 2, with widths 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.

Above that row, make another row of rectangles with height 3, with widths 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.

Continue changing the height of new rows of rectangles according to the Fibonacci numbers and complete Quadrant I.

Now move onto Quadrant II. Consider rotating the paper so that Quadrant II is in the position where Quadrant I was.

Follow the same directions for Quadrant II as you did for Quadrant I. Do the same for Quadrants III and IV and you have completed your Fibonacci Quilt! Voi-la!

Incidentally, I have a friend who is a jeweler. His wife is a math teacher. He has created a beautiful pendant of the Golden Spiral. You can view his pendant on his etsy.com page.

A must-view Tedtalk summary video of the Fibonacci numbers can be found below.

We are looking very forward to your arrival in late August. We trust you will enjoy being part of our Freshmen Academy. The purpose of the Academy is to acclimate you to high school life and academics.

Please come prepared to school with the following materials:

1 inch binders for your classes

folders

loose-leaf paper

graph paper

pencils

pens

TI-84 calculator (preferred) or scientific calculator

You are cordially invited to attend MCAS Math Review Sessions, beginning Monday, March 31. The meetings will take place at MHS in room 224 on Monday and Wednesday for 1 hour after school. All sophomores are urged to attend one or both sessions each week between now and May 13, 2014, the date scheduled for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS, in Mathematics.

Yesterday I visited an Honors Precalculus class. There were three warm-up problems on the board as class began:

Simplify: x^2 • x^4

Simplify: x^6 ÷ x^2

Solve: log(base 3) 81

As I circulated, the first three approaches I saw for problem #1 were:

the first student typed “x^2 • x^4” into his calculator, coming up with an enormous number (apparently there must have been a value stored for “x” into the calculator)

the second student had left #1 blank and was pushing buttons on her calculator, not sure how to begin

the third student had an answer of x^8 to represent the solution of x^2 • x^4

The simple problem “x^2 • x^4” is absolutely assessable on MCAS and should be second nature to grade 10 students. I am concerned that some of our honors students are learning so much math, and at such a fast pace, that the foundational skills are weak. Please consider attending the MCAS review sessions to be sure you are refreshed on the essentials.

On Monday, Ms. Kaitlin Sych, student teacher in Ms. Miles and Mr. Gaitane’s class, will begin her full take-over of instruction to fulfill requirements for her practicum.

So far, Ms. Sych designs instruction for a Block 1 Honors Geometry class, a Block 2 Algebra 1 CP class, and on Monday will be the lead teacher for Block 4 Honors Geometry.

Ms. Sych is a senior at Stonehill College in Easton, MA where she is studying to become a math teacher. She designs lessons that are challenging, engaging and student-centered. She avails herself during the school day and well after school to assist students with retakes and extra help.

We are fortunate to have Ms. Sych with us until April vacation. Students, get ready to learn some challenging math, in a way that will appeal to your learning styles!

Our Spring parent-teacher conferences are scheduled for Wednesday, March 5, from 6:00 – 8:30 PM.

Unfortunately I am unable to meet with parents on March 5 due to a professional development conflict.

I would like to offer alternative ways of connecting:

telephone you at a time that is mutually convenient

skype at a time that is mutually convenient

schedule another face-to-face meeting time

email a progress report with a narrative of your child’s performance and progress.

Please let me know if you would like to arrange any of the above means of communication. You may contact me via email or by sending in a note with your child.