Engaging students: Defining the terms complementary angles, supplementary angles, and vertical angles

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission comes from my former student Mason Maynard. His topic, from Geometry: defining the terms complementary angles, supplementary angles, and vertical angles.

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How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic? 

I found this website that is an interactive game that students can play when learning about this topic. With this type of topic, the main thing that you want your students to remember is vocabulary. The website that I found uses a game to get kids identify the missing angle in degrees and each angle is either complementary, supplementary or vertical. I really like this game because our students need to develop that muscle memory of seeing an angle and knowing whether it is a complementary, supplementary or vertical set. Once you can get the students to see it and immediately identify it, they can then transition into finding the specific degrees. I also think that anytime you can put something into a game format, students will try harder. Everyone is competitive so why not channel that into learning. The game on the website is very straight forward with the students so you can count on it not causing any misconceptions.


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How has this topic appeared in high culture?

The article that I found touches on angles but I feel like you could use in throughout the entire unit and just touch on in during every topic you cover. Overall, the article refers to the history of the Geometric Abstract Art Movement. It mainly focuses on the use of lines and shapes and angles but I really feel like you could connect this to the students in your classroom. Within a lot of these paintings or sculptures during this period, you will find all three angle types. These artists needed these angles to make the piece balanced and have harmony. Other needs to use a specific angle to demonstrate contrast. That is really the most beautiful thing about mixing art with math. The artist has the power to use it in a way that conveys their feelings and allows for expression. This is really a way to go beyond the scope of math and show students that we are learning real life and important topics.


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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

An activity that I found online was that you just give students papers and have them fold them in specific patterns and then they use the protractor to measure out the degree of angles. I really like this because it is simple but yet you can branch out with it in many ways. With students folding papers, you will get many different folds from the students and this allows them to do some investigation on their own and then afterward, you can allow them to share their findings with their classmates. This cooperative learning allows for all of them to pounce ideas of one another and for the teacher, it can show you who is struggling with anything specific. The really cool thing about it is that if you fold the paper twice then you can setup the scenario of them finding adjacent angles. Then this could potentially lead them to discovering opposite angles on their own for future lessons.


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