MAT Blog

Before we officially shift our gaze towards 2013, we thought we’d celebrate the New Year by compiling some of Marygrove College’s most popular resources of 2012.

Now you can take them with you and access them whenever and wherever you are! Inside our Best of 2012 you’ll find:

• 10 things you should know for the first day of school
• Ways to reinvent elementary geometry and make it fun
• Literacy tools that nurture independent reading
• Ways to teach grammar…without teaching grammar
• Classroom management tips
• Simple and practical ways to enhance your curriculum with free technology

And more!

These are only a few of the resources you’ll find inside our Best of 2012—and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, be sure to browse our blog and resource library as well!

On behalf of Marygrove College’s Master in the Art of Teaching program, we want to wish you a healthy and successful New Year.

-The MAT Team

Many adults shudder at the thought of their geometry education; theorems, proofs, and endless problems to work.  Yet, geometry doesn't have to be a bore.  There are so many ways to make it fun and applicable to real life.  The possibilities are endless for elementary geometry lessons that students will not only learn from but will also get excited about!

• Use picture books: Depending on the geometry standard you are studying you could use Alphabet City (symmetry, environmental geometry), The Greedy Triangle (polygons), Mummy Math (solid shapes), Grandfather Tang (polygons, tan grams), Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt (plane shapes), and Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (circles). More than just read alouds, these books can also lead you to hands on activities for students. For example, while reading the The Greedy Triangle, teachers can give each student three pieces of a straw to form the triangle.  As the greedy triangle visits the shape shifter, students can form each new shape with additional straw pieces.  The teacher can stop and discuss each shape and show examples of the different shapes. Other items that work well are Q-Tips, toothpicks and pipe cleaners.
• Take a geometry walk: Like the book Alphabet City shows us, geometry is all around us in shapes, angles, and symmetrical designs. The entire class could go on a geometry walk of the school searching for different geometrical concepts such as certain shapes and angles. Students can record (or draw) in their math journal the shapes they find. The teacher can bring along a digital camera to record the class' findings. These digital photos can be used to construct a bulletin board of geometrical terms, concepts, and learning.
• Go online: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has a great online shape tool that elementary geometry students can use to learn about shapes.  Shapes can be created, enlarged, shrunk, reflected, rotated, and divided into smaller shapes. Geometry Bridge is a great online activity for elementary geometry students; it challenges them to build a bridge and get their trucks across.  Students will learn types of angles and triangles, and will be asked to calculate the angles and sides of triangles.  Boise State University has a more involved, in depth web quest available online for teachers and elementary geometry students. WebQuest: Geometry Around the World is a collection of eight tasks that students must complete in order to construct and submit their exhibit to the Board of Directors at the "Museum of Geometry Around the World." This would be an excellent independent activity for students who have shown mastery of geometry standards and need an additional challenge. Also check out the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives through Utah State University for a vast amount of math teaching aids.
• Find real world connections: Any person who has undertaken a home improvement project understands how applicable geometry is to real life. But how do we translate that to students who may view math as something that only happens in school? Teachers need to take math into the students' world to show them that the elementary geometry lessons are relevant. Teachers could take the students to the playground and challenge them to measure a space and determine the area (inside a four square game, for example). For a more involved project, teachers (and parent volunteers) could work with students to build planter boxes.  Students would be required to do the measuring and planning while the adults did the cutting and helped with assembly. Once the boxes are assembled students would have to determine how much dirt they would need to fill the box.

Geometry is built on absolutes, but it doesn't have to be an absolute bore! There are numerous options for teachers to teach the geometry standards while also exciting their students about math. Good luck! Let us know what works for you in the Comments section below.

Tags: elementary math, geometry