Geometry Construction Challenges – Compass, Patty Paper, and Euclid the Game

First of all, Euclid the Game is an amazing Geogebra based construction game!  THANK YOU to @mathhombre John Golden and @mrhodotnet.  It’s fun, challenging, and teaches students the basics of construction AND Geogebra all at once for the (double) win!  I told my students that it was a problem solving game.   So I would not tell them what to do, and I would not tell them the answers, even if they BEGGED (and they did – it was awesome).  But NO, I told them that they would have to THINK.  This was great for some of my freshmen, who want me to explain everything to them, step by step.  I felt today was a giant leap forward towards becoming independent learnings and being positively frustrated problem solvers.  After a while I did help students who were still stuck in the tutorial.  But basically, they all figured it out, and begged to go on.  It was awesome.

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We do constructions by hand at my school.  We start with a compass, then throw a little patty paper into the mix.  (Fun fact – Most students couldn’t guess what patty paper was actually used for.)  I have never constructed before.  Ever.  Not only learning it, but teaching it was a huge challenge that first day.  But now I am in the groove.  Although I did seriously underestimated the skill and dexterity the smart notebook compass took to master, much less all of the nuances.  After two days of painstakingly using that damn thing, I am still not even close.  At one point I just grabbed a regular compass and (gasp!) an actual piece of paper and had students gather around me so I could demonstrate.  I also “sketched” a construction freehand on the board.  Sigh.  That smart board hates me now, but I do think it will grow to love me!  I’m persistent.  I would love to throw in some Geogebra constructions to the mix, and that is why I introduced them to Euclid the Game.  But right now I am just trying to keep my head above water.  My mantra?  “Keep swimming Dory!” 

I loved Euclid the Game because students were learning how to construct things that we haven’t done in class yet.  I did Euclid the Game after only teaching them copying a segment and an angle.  So, as I am introducing new constructions now they are saying things like, “Oh yeah, you just need to find the intersection of those two points!”  It really makes my job so much easier!  It’s also more fun for them because they feel more involved.  

Finally, I’d love to give an extra special thanks to Jen Silverman who made a Geogebra Geometry Constructions “crash course” for me (note: for teachers, not classroom use)!  She is one of the kindest and most giving people in this community!  Also thanks to all of the other amazing members of the #mtbos that sent links to my construction SOS call on Twitter.  Again, I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for this community.  How did anyone ever teach math before Twitter?  Thank goodness I don’t have to!