Geometry Through Art

Norman Shapiro

Some Tips on Teaching Vocabulary

Table of Contents
The fewer words introduced at the beginning of the learning experience, the more quickly your class will engage in DOING the geometry activity. The classroom teacher's aim is to motivate learning new words when students see they are necessary.

Effective teaching requires the teacher to carefully select which words are to be given at the outset, and which should flow out of what is produced by members of the class and the group as a whole.

As with any new material, you as the teacher will not know what the student pool of knowledge is until the lesson is presented. The heuristic approach (learning by finding out) obliges the teacher to highlight student knowledge for official recognition. Any relevant vocabulary then offered by individuals becomes the property of the class.

Student work used as visuals can be a useful tool for highlighting vocabulary concepts. Examples of student art work cited to draw attention to vocabulary are more effective than teacher-made or textbook-derived data. Visual comparisons of student-made constructions and designs are even better.

Discussion and analysis of geometric properties are best done when finished student art work is on display in the classroom.
In the ongoing process of making geometrical constructions and designs, what a student perceives, understands, and needs to know can be readily observed, not only in the way the tasks on hand are engaged, but in the comparative stages of accomplishment of student work. To decide what vocabulary to offer and when, a teacher may ask: Will the word introduced help remove what's preventing the student from engaging or discovering geometric properties and relationships? Will it overcome a block the learner may be experiencing? Some students may need certain words simply to make clear what they could not visually perceive.

Because the approach we are using is so heavily visual and kinesthetic, vocabulary is intrinsic only insofar as it is needed by students to deal with doing geometry and making art.

Vocabulary is best when given on a need-to-know basis.

On to Hands-On Activities

Copyright 1995 Norman Shapiro

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