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.