The trials, tribulations and adventures of being a new Principal

Archive for the month “November, 2014”

Geometry Lesson in Kindergarten

Sometimes,  I go into a classroom and see a lesson that makes me think, “That seriously just made my week.”  Today was one of those days.  In kindergarten,  students were learning about the characteristics of triangles and rectangles.  During the lesson, the teacher used multiple modalities to keep students engaged and active.  Students had discussions with each other on the carpet,  they used their math journal to make drawings of rectangles and triangles that could be found in their classroom and they labeled their drawings.  Using blocks, students sorted shapes according to the number of sides, vertices and angles.  Students used the language that they needed to use to describe these shapes.

Next, students used popsicle sticks to solve problems involving triangles and rectangles.  This is the part that made me most excited because it was such an excellent example of the mathematical practices being used in a developmentally appropriate way.

During the lesson, Students received bags of popsicle sticks.  They were asked to use the sticks to make a triangle.   They discussed the characteristics of the triangle that they made.  Then, the teacher asked them make a rectangle that has two long sides and two short sides.  Some kids made a rectangle with 6 sticks and some made their rectangle  with 8 sticks.  Noticing this, the teacher asked the students,  ” Why do some rectangles have more sticks than others?”   After students had the opportunity to talk about the two different rectangles that had been made, one student came to the conclusion that one of the rectangles used 8 sticks “because she made it longer!”

Next, the following problem was presented:
T:  Try to make a triangle using 4 popsicle sticks.
S:  I can’t make one with four sticks.
T: Keep trying!  You can do it!
T (to student):  How many sticks do you have?
S: 5!  How many are you supposed to have?
S: 4.
T: How many do you need to take away?
S: 1
T: Good!  Now work on moving those sticks around to make a triangle.
The teacher gave feedback to students when they have a solution.  She bent down and quietly helped a few students who hadn’t  found a solution yet.  She gave students enough time to work on persevering through the problem, then she drew an equilateral triangle on the board.    Next, she asked a student to draw the triangle that they made using 4 sticks instead of 3 sticks.  The student drew a triangle on the board and pointed out that her triangle ended up with 1 long side and two short sides.
Before the lesson was finished,  the teacher encouraged students to take all of their popsicle sticks in order to see how many triangles they could make.  Most students had 18-20 popsicle sticks, so they ended up with 6-7 triangles.
By presenting multiple types of problem solving opportunities to students,  this teacher was able to build a scaffold that allowed students to get to the point of solving a fairly complicated math problem.  Additionally,  the mathematical practices that were embedded in the lesson provided an opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability to think like mathematicians.

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