How Do I Love Thee? Playing

Module 7: Assignment #1

“Go play” is something you may hear a parent tell their young child or a teacher tell her second grade class at recess time, but what about a high school student in Geometry class?  As children get older and classes become more complex there is less time to just “go play”.  These words seem to connect only to sports in high school, not the classroom, especially in math class.  Play involves no rules, no success, no failure, and freedom to do things just for fun.  Play is for the enjoyment of doing or making with no responsibility or accountability tied to it (Root-Bernstein, 1999).  Bringing play into the classroom is important and something that I am passionate about.  Play engages students, reduces anxiety and stress, brings the class to life, and makes the curriculum fun!  Just because teenage students are growing up, it doesn’t mean they can no longer play and have fun in school.

In my Geometry classes I incorporate games and activities to get students up and moving.  To help me figure out a different type of playful introduction to right triangles, I thought back to my childhood and what I enjoyed.  Besides sports and physical activities, I loved to draw and color.  Coloring sparked an idea and I immediately ran with it.  I chose to design an adult coloring page for my students.  There is a huge boom in our culture with the “adult coloring book” market, as more people are recognizing the positive effects of coloring.  It is utilized for reducing stress, anxiety, and for relaxation.

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This is an introduction activity for our study of the Pythagorean theorem and right triangles.  Each student receives a picture and colored pencils to color it in any way that they desire, no rules.  Afterward I would have them explain to their group why they chose to color the way that they did.  No wrong answers, just looking for their thought process.  Some students may have colored specific shapes certain colors, made a pattern, or just colored to color.  Next, I would have students try to split up all of the polygons into triangles with their pencils.  Individuals would come up and share their pictures on the Elmo, discussing which shapes use right triangles.  Hopefully they see that each polygon could be split up and there were different ways you could split them up.  This activity would be fun for them and meaningful because it helps develop their visual skills, recognize patterns, shapes, and give them a chance to talk with their peers.  I can see students who are quiet and more talented in the arts loving this activity and sharing it in front of the class.  During the next chapter I could use this image again to talk about the different parts of a polygon and how we classify shapes: triangle, hexagon, square, quadrilateral, convex, concave, etc.

Root-Bernstein, R. S., & Root-Berstein, M. (1999). Sparks of Genius: The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

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