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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Playing With Pythagoras

Playing with Pythagoras
Guest Post Written By:  Natalie Hunter

Young kids sometimes have a hard time understanding is the Pythagorean Theorem. Fortunately, it's very easy to visualize with squares put on each side of the triangle on a sheet of graph paper. A square and B square put together are the same size as C square! Kids will find this fun and easy to prove all by themselves. Getting them to understand the importance of this theorem can be a little harder though. Even adults can often remember the equation of a2+b2=c2 from their younger years, but ask them to calculate a hypotenuse and they just may throw up their hands.

For this reason, it's important to teach kids more than just squares on a right triangle, and one way to do this is to switch up the shapes. Pythagoras's theory has been proven to be true for any three figures of the same shape, whether squares, polygons, or even fish. Demonstrate it first, have students pick a favorite simple shape, and then give everyone some right triangles, some graph paper to cut their shapes out with, and calculators to play around with. Circles are very visually appealing and can be used to demonstrate the versatility of this theorem, but if you do not think your students can handle dealing with pi yet use other shapes instead.

Another fun exercise can be done with the whole class. For this demonstration several books, a pen, a ruler, and paper will be needed for the class, or smaller groups within the class if they can be kept on task. The students should line the books up to form the shape of a capital “L” so that a right angle is formed. The lines formed by the books should be different lengths. After the students have lined up the books, they will need to measure the sides and note how long each side was. Make sure everyone is using the same unit of measure! After the students have measured the sides they will need to add the squares of sides together, which they can do either with a calculator or by themselves if they've already learned multiplication. For most classes, calculator will be needed to calculate the square root of the result so they can find the hypotenuse, as usually the Pythagorean Theorem is taught before deriving square roots in longhand. Once they have solved the equation, have them use the ruler to measure from one tip of the books to the other and then find out if they got the correct answer.

There are also story books and videos that the parent or teacher can use in the classroom to help students learn about the Pythagorean Theorem. If the children are in online school, there are also online games teachers can give students to play with to learn this important theory. Using demonstrations, exercises, and games can truly help children grasp the Pythagorean Theorem. Visually experiencing a theorem can make the difference for a child between using an equation and understanding an equation. The Pythagorean Theorem can be a tricky concept to learn, and some students will need to learn it in different ways than other children. The next time you're thinking about teaching Pythagorean Theorem, consider one of these fun games to help them learn, understand, and enjoy math.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Call for Help - Scheduling Groups

Good Morning Guided-Math Teachers!

Very often I receive questions on scheduling guided math under time constraints.  Last week I received an email with a unique time constraint.  I decided to post her email in order to get a few good ideas from others that might be in a similar situation...

I am a first grade teacher who has been doing guided math for a while now but I am really running into a problem and could use your advice.  I need more time!!!  Currently, my students come back from activity, grab a snack and we begin whole group math. (Really it is more of a settling back in time.)   I am only scheduling that for 10 minutes due to time constraints (1:05 - 1:15).  I then have from 1:15 to 2:00 for small group instruction.  However, the first students leave at 2:00 and I really need time to get them ready to go home.  The last students leave at 2:20.  I need to fit in 3 guided math groups and  leave myself a few minutes in between to put out first grade fires.  Do you have any ideas???  I have a lot of teachers coming to watch guided math in my class and I want to do it justice.  Any advice you can give me would be so appreciated!!!

Any suggestions on how this schedule can be worked out to the benefit of all groups/students?  Please leave a comment with any tips or solutions!

Thank You!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Back to School Craziness!

After taking a slight break from the blogging world, I am back!  Back to school always equals very busy!  I think as each year passes, the transition from summer to going back to school gets a tad bit harder.  I am just now starting to feel like I am getting back into the flow of things and getting my head on straight!  This is also the year I am a National Board Candidate.  It has been a goal of mine for the past couple of years and now was the time to do it.  When that blue box first arrived I got a little nervous and anxious and then went through the whole, what did I get myself into stage.  Luckily, I have calmed down and decided to take it one step at a time.

A few notes...

My first niece was born on September 11th!  I just had to share.  She is adorable and melted our hearts the moment she arrived.  I spent the day with her yesterday, loving and snuggling her.  Here is a pic of Lucy (her very cool and very stylish Auntie picked out that headband for her :)...

Be on the lookout for a couple new posts this week!  Pictures of my anchor charts and beginning routines will be featured.

Hope you're having a great Sunday! (Go Bears)