I was not looking forward to teaching the geometry chapters to my students this year. These chapters are full of definitions and formulas. My own children are in first, third, and fourth grade. The homework that they bring home indicates that the kids have been seeing the same basic definitions and shapes from at least the first grade, and the same formulas from at least the fourth. This all equates to me teaching the same thing to the same kids, again. Can you say Snooze-Fest?
I considered doing a short geometry review and then just diving into fun geometry problems! However, I have students from several different elementary schools. I have learned this year that I have to be careful not to generalize and assume that all of the students have been taught (and will remember) all of this previously taught information. I did not want to skip over the basic definitions that they will need for our more advanced geometry problems if they have not seen them in the past (or they were actually snoozing).
My solution was to have the students create their very own Geometry Booklets. They made them from folding copy paper in half. Each night, I assigned my students sections of their textbook to extract and copy down definitions and illustrations. What they needed to find each night was easy as all of the important definitions and terminology are either hi-lighted yellow or outlined in green boxes. I encouraged (but did not require) them to be creative and colorful at night! It told them that it was THEIR book!
The next day class we played games and did activities using the information that they scribed the night before. They were able to reference their booklets for these games and activities. To motivate them to get all of the required information into their booklets, I let them use the booklets on geometry unit quizzes and tests.
I felt that this was similar to “flipping” the class because they gathered the information from their textbooks at home and then worked on problems in class. Most of my students liked it because they got to be creative with their booklets and they felt like they were “getting out of” math homework. And, they LOVED using these booklets for tests and quizzes.
For the big geometry unit test I let them use their booklets. The test covered two chapters of geometry. Overall, my students scored higher on this assessment than they had scored on any other major assessment all year (and I usually only test on one chapter at a time). But, what amazed me, and them, the most is that many of the students didn’t really need to use their geometry booklets during the test. By writing it down each night, and then going over it each day, they had already processed the information.
To create the covers for their booklets, we integrated with Art and Gardening. Students studied cubism in art and then visited their garden to pick a subject for their covers. Their covers had to be modeled after cubism and include four different geometric shapes. In art they sketched their garden subject using geometric shapes. They then used a wide array of materials of various textures and colors to finish their covers. Our Art teacher did a fabulous job with this and their covers turned out beautifully!
To showcase their work, I made a slideshow of their books to the tune of “The Nonagon” by TMBG. We all really love that song! I included the cover and one page on the inside of each book. I collected their booklets and will return them to the students to use next year during the geometry unit. I may even have them add on to the books.
Bravo! I LOVE how you took what could have been a ho-hum review and “flipped” it. The kids did a great job with the booklets (not to mention the assessment!) and the artwork was a great cross-curricular tie in.
Thanks! They impressed me so much! They try so much harder when I encourage them to be creative. I love it.
What grade(s) are these students in? I teach Honors Geometry to 9th graders and am looking for ways to spice up my curriculum. I typically have given out typed up notes with all of this information, but this would make it so much more fun for the students!
@Sheri – My students are in 6th grade. I also think this is better than notes that you type up because when they do the work, THEY process the information. I had one student who printed out all of the definitions and glued them in. This student is usually an A student but did not do as well on the Geometry exam. And, this was an exam that most other students did much better than average on. I really believe it was because the student printed out the information instead of writing it down. I will be much more explicit next year when I give this assignment as I will require it to be hand written. Plus, for some reason, kids of all ages love booklets. I used to do them in my high school math classes all of the time and they really did love them.
Awesome, Julie! When I worked in elementary, we took groups of students on “geometry shape hunts” around the school. They took pictures with digital cameras to put in a slideshow. The older students could edit and narrate the movie themselves. We used PhotoStory (free download). Also, where do you find most of your math songs? Or maybe you and your students make them up? 🙂 Have you used http://www.watchknowlearn.org/ – great way to search through educational videos…
Hey Carrie! I love your geo shape hunt idea. I read something like that but we ran out of time at the end of the year. I would love for my students to do more “creating” because they love it and they learn more. I make up most of the songs and motions but I also find some songs online. Or, I find a song online and then tailor it to fit my class. I love to sing so we sing just about everything that I really want them to remember. It’s amazing how well they remember facts that they sing (and we have a lot of fun at it too). : ) Thanks for the link, I’m going to check it out.
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That’s look fun to do with teaching kids in the class room
Yes, I used to dread teaching Geometry – but now it’s one of my favorite units all year!
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