Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekly Class Summary: Nov. 15-19

SOLs Covered: SOL 6.11 & 7.7 (New 6.10c) Coordinate Geometry - Perimeter & Area
Math Dictionary Sections: (11) Coordinate Geometry
Upcoming Assessments: Coordinate Geometry & Circles Quiz (Fri. 12/3/10)

We began a new unit this week on coordinate geometry which covered perimeter and area of rectangles, squares, and triangles. While most students did some work with perimeter and area of rectangles and squares in fifth grade, most were exposed to the concept of formulas for the first time with this unit. This can be a difficult concept for many students since they are not used to "all those letters" in a math problem. To help alleviate some of the confusion, I gave the following analogy:
If you go to the movies with friends or family and you go into the theater to save seats while the others go to the concession to get the popcorn and drinks, how do you save those seats? You place a coat or something in the seat(s) to save it, but that coat or object is simply a placeholder for the people that will later occupy the seat(s). When the people come in, they take the place of the placeholders. The letters in formulas work the same way: when given the dimensions of a shape, the numbers replace the letters in the formulas.
Students have been taught three simple steps to help with all problems involving formulas.
  1. Write the formula on your paper.
  2. Plug the numbers into the formula.
  3. Plug the numbers into the calculator.
After going over the basics of what perimeter and area are along with how to find them, we started an in-class project where students got to design their own city using grid paper to create an aerial view. To start the project, we watched short video clips from Thinkport's Math-by-Design featuring an architect and an urban planning professor who show and discuss the importance of using math, particularly geometry, to create the places we live and work. Students then decided what buildings they need in their city (10 total for the project) and how they should be shaped using rectangles and triangles. Due to the Language Arts field trip and Friday's Third Spiral Review Quiz, the project will be wrapped up next week before leaving for the Thanksgiving Break.
"Math in Action" videos from

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