# Fawn Nguyen

Fawn Nguyen

Fawn Nguyen is a math teacher, presenter, and curriculum writer from California. She is the author of several online curricular resources, including visualpatterns.org and mathtalks.net.

# Visual Patterns

Nguyen conceived of a site to house visual representations of patterns and created Visual Patterns (http://visualpatterns.org) in December 2012. This work is one portion of her efforts to share resources which help students to develop algebraic thinking through visual representations. Nguyen credits a summer course she took with former NCTM president Michael Shaughnessy as part of her inspiration for this work.

As of May 30, 2015, there are 162 images of patterns on the site, divided into sets of 20 that can be accessed through tabs at the top of the page. Additional tabs link to teacher resources, to a gallery page, and to a contact page. The “teachers” tab includes Nguyen's explanation of how she has assigned these patterns to students, and several versions of student handouts, including one filled out as an exemplar. The “gallery” page includes student pattern pictures and links to reflections from teachers who have used visualpatterns.org in their classrooms.

The patterns include some of Fawn’s original work, as well as many submitted by other math educators and several student contributions. Images include classic math patterns like toothpicks or cubes, but also some more novel patterns of penguins, snowflakes, coins or cups. Each image depicts the first few steps in a “growing” pattern, along with the predicted number of objects in “step 43.” Students are asked to visualize what the next step might be, to predict what step 43 might look like, and to generalize the pattern by writing an algebraic equation to match the pattern.

Part of the richness of the visual representations is that students can write many different equations, which all correctly match up with a pattern. The way in which a student writes his or her equation can lend insight into how they are seeing or thinking about a pattern. This can help other students to find alternative ways to approach equation writing and can help teachers to understand a student’s thinking. The visual presentation of information is also a way to remove linguistic barriers to math problems and to give all students an access point to algebraic thinking.