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Q&A #1560

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Teaching geometry

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From: Lucinda <RiverosK@aol.com>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2000032800:12:53
Subject: Teaching geometry to elementary school students

In elementary school the study of geometry should be informal but not
unstructured.  The use of informal terms and expressions should be
accepted.  For example, both teachers and students can use terms such
as "corners", "square corners", "flips", and "slides".  These terms
eventually will be replaced, respectively, with the formal terms
"vertices", "right angles", "reflections", and "translations".  By
frequently talking about what they are doing, children's descriptions
will become more precise and correct.  In order to make good decisions
about the type of activities suitable for students, you must try to
discern their geometric thinking level.  Engaging the students in
"open-ended" geometry explorations is one way to accomplish this.  The
following are examples of open-ended tasks:  
1.Draw as many different four-sided figures as you can.  Write about
how they are different and how they are the same.
2.Choose a block.  Use sticks and marshmallows to make a skeleton
model of the shape.
Sharing in these tasks enable students to see relationships that they
might not have seen if left to themselves.
Geometry is an opportunity to connect mathematics to the child's
world.  Choose activities that involve the recognition and
classification of shapes and figures, and operations on objects that
are familiar to the child.  A collection of boxes and other containers
that the children bring to school can be the focus of discussions
about different shapes and figures.  A "geometry walk" on a city
street or on a nature trail can serve to connect geometry work to the
environment.	

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