Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tips for Teaching Geometry {Common Core Aligned 1.G.1, 1.G.2, 2.G.1, 3.G.1}

Yesterday I showcased how I teach fractions in my classroom. You can view that blog post here. Prior to beginning my fraction unit, I find it is most helpful to cover geometry concepts in depth. This is one of my most fun, colorful and hands-on units. Below are all the details...


I had an absolute blast teaching 2D Geometry to my third graders recently. It's a concept that lends itself to lots of hands on and creative projects. I was really impressed with how quickly they demonstrated proficiency in the Common Core standards, but also a bit bummed because I would have happily continued on with this for a lot longer. Alas, we are on to fractions (which is equally fun...corny pun intended).

To spice up the usual routines, I created a collection of materials, games, writing projects and craftivities. I'll be writing separate blog posts to showcase them throughout the week, but they are all listed in the table of contents below. 

This product includes games and activities that are quick and easy to prepare.




geometry 1.G.1 1.G.2 2.G.1 3.G.1 Common Core Math Polygons Shapes hands-on games activities crafts lessons resources materials printables

This ended up being one of those lessons that I’ll be giddy about doing every year.  It was the perfect blend of academics and craftiness. It rolled math vocabulary and concepts, character traits, writing skills and cutting and pasting all into one.

We’ve been working with polygons during Math Workshop using all of the games, activities and printables in my 13 Product 2D Geometry Bundle throughout the week so the students were familiar with the language and attributes. However, this activity would also be a great introduction to the unit as it has them looking at the attributes of various polygons.




{click to access and download Polygons with Personality}

I began by reviewing what character traits are. We discussed how they are based on what someone says or does and not on appearance. I revealed a chart that included columns headed with the letters T, S, P, H, O, R and together we listed one character trait that began with each of those letters. I told them that I picked those letters for a reason, but wouldn’t tell them why until later in the day. Their excitement and interest level grew with curiosity.  

I gave them each a copy of the printable and challenged them to list 25 character traits that began with those letters in 15 minutes. I was amazed by their word choices (punctual, reluctant, rambunctious, sophisticated, etc). We came together as a class and compiled the individual ideas into an anchor chart. We talked about the words and their meanings as I added them to the list.  

I printed the polygon printables from my geometry packet onto plain paper and used the photocopier to make 3 of each in an assortment of colors using construction paper. I passed them out to my students along with a graphic organizer.  They used the graphic organizer to list their shapes attributes along with places the shape can be found (i.e. a triangle can be a sail on a boat, a slice of pizza, etc). I opted to do this prior to reading the story because I wanted them to generate their own ideas and not just record the ones from the book.  Using the graphic organizer and the story frame each of my friends composed two paragraphs.

After lunch I read, The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns. I had cut 10 strips of paper and attached them to each other using metal brads. At the start of the story I held 3 of them with the others folded in the back to form a triangle. As the story progressed and the triangle turned into a quadrilateral and then a pentagon and then a hexagon, etc I revealed another side to form the new shape. 
 Afterwards we discussed why he was greedy and used details from the text to support that character trait. I then began gluing the polygon images from my packet onto our chart of words directly over the letters that were originally heading the columns. After a quick minilesson on alliteration (score another point for embedding state test review), each of my friends selected a character trait that began with the same letter as the polygon they had been writing about. They composed the final part of their writing piece by citing fictional actions to support the trait they selected.

The final (and crowd favorite) part of the project was bringing their shapes to life by adding eyes, mouths and other components.
{Click here to access & download the 2D Geometry Bundle}


We are very focused on improving our students' math vocabulary. When I created my 2D Geometry Unit I strived to create activities that would provide ample opportunities for the students to practice and use the related vocabulary words throughout our daily Math Workshop. 

During my small group instruction time I introduced the a game called, "Pick a Polygon." I printed out 2 sets of figure cards (you could use one, but I doubled it because I was using it with a small group instead of the usual 2-4 players). I then decorated a bag label and placed the cards inside. 


Pick a Polygon is a great game for increasing the use of math vocabulary. I had small groups of students join me to play. I placed all of the cards into a paper bag (you can also use a bowl, Pringles can, or box). The students took turns drawing a card and showing it to the group. 

If the card was a polygon they kept  it. I asked them questions about the number of sides, vertices, and angles. Before moving on, I engaged the group in discussions about the figure on the card.  I had some students determine if there were parallel or perpendicular lines. I had others talk about right, acute and obtuse angles. Sometimes I asked them to prove it was a polygon.

If the card was not a polygon they explained why, kept that card out of the bag and returned all of their previous;y drawn cards to the bag. This was a fun activity that provided me with a chance to informally assess their knowledge and allowed the students to learn from each other while they played. I was thrilled with the language they were using to talk about the figures. The repeated exposure to the cards really provided a fun way for them to reinforce both the vocabulary and the criteria for polygons.

After that Math Workshop I added it to future workshops as a game for them to play without my direct supervision.  As I listened in I noted that they continued to use lots of vocabulary when playing on their own.

{Click to access and download the 2D Geometry 13 Product Bundle

I also created a Geometry Trivia Game called, "The Polygon Trail." The Polygon Trail is a game designed to get kids thinking and talking about polygons. I had an adult stay at this station during Math Workshop and facilitate the game. We broke the math group into two teams and had them place a marker (we used unifix cubes) onto the starting square and select one of the cards. The teachers shuffled the cards and placed them face down on the table. The two teams took turns drawing a card. Each card contains “trivia” quaestions about polygons and informs the players how many spaces to move. The cards include images of polygons that the students are asked to name as well as questions such as, “How many sides are on an octagon?” and “What do we call a polygon with 5 sides?”  This was a fun way to reinforce the skills we had been focused on and also provided a wonderful opportunity to informally assess student knowledge.




{Click to access and download my 2D Geometry Bundle 


I had my students work with a partner to complete the Polygon Collage activity. I provided each of my friends with a blank frame to create their collage (the packet includes 3 different styles to select from) and a single die to share. One child would roll the number cube, look at the guide and pick up the corresponding pattern block. The partners then needed to discuss the attributes of the block and then trace it onto their mat using a pencil. 
If you are concerned your students will rush through the discussion to get to the drawing, you may opt to challenge them to “have the last word.” To do so tell them that the person who rolls makes the first statement about the block (i.e. It is a trapezoid). Next the partner makes a single statement (i.e It has four sides). Then the original student makes another statement (i.e. There are 4 vertices). They should go back and forth like this until there is nothing left to discuss. Make their goal be to be the last one to think of something to say about it’s attribute. This added bit of “competition” can often motivate them to really get their minds going.

When they were tracing the figures, they were encouraged to overlap the shapes. This provides a really nice look to the collage. Afterwards each student traced their pencil outlines in black marker and colored in the sections in bold colors to create a collage. I later had them “show what they know” about polygons using words.  I was able to get a good sense of their understanding of polygons through their writing. 

I paired their writing with their collage and mounted them onto varied colors of construction paper. I used the writing paper from my packet (the packet includes 5 different versions of the writing paper) and had them color the polygons around the edge to give it some extra flair.  I’m so proud of their finished products and have stashed them away to display at our Spring Open House in a few months.


I used popsicle sticks for the Build a Polygon center in my classroom, but any of the following would work as well: unsharpened pencils, pipe cleaners, toothpicks, etc. I copied the building guide onto colored paper and folded it over to form a table tent at the center. Students used the hands-on manipulatives to construct various polygons.  They then drew them onto paper and labeled the diagram with details about the shape. 
We used the Polygon Sort activity to provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding of the attributes of a polygon. I had my friends make notes about the figures on each of the cards before cutting them out. Some chose to color the shapes in.  Next I had them prepare their sorting foldables and place the cards into the correct pocket. To differentiate you could have them simply sort the cards into the two pockets or have them write full explanations of why the shape is or is not a polygon.


If you are looking for additional geometry activities and ideas be sure to check out my Math Camp Packet that was designed to be used as a fun test review or end of the year review (or I suppose start of the year review) for grades 2-4.

You may also be interested in my many Common Core Math Products for grades 2-4 ESPECIALLY my favorite the super-easy to use Math Assessment Packets. I use these constantly to monitor my students' progress and plan interventions to move them to proficiency.

 





 






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