Engaging students: Defining the words acute, right, and obtuse

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 again comes from my former student Katelyn Kutch. Her topic: how to engage geometry students when defining the words acute, right, and obtuse.

green line

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

As a teacher I think that a fun activity that is not too difficult but will need the students to be up and around the room is kind of like a mix and match game. I will give a bunch a students, a multiple of three, different angles. And then I will give the rest of the students cards with acute, obtuse, and right triangle listed on them. The students with the angles will then have to get in groups of three to form one of the three triangles. Once the students are in groups of three, they will then find another student with the type of triangle and pair with them. They will then present and explain to rest of the class why they paired up the way that they did. I think that it would be a good way for the students to be up and around and decide for themselves what angles for what triangles and then to show their knowledge by explaining it to the class.

 

green line

How does this topic extend what your students should have learned in previous courses?

The topic of defining acute, right, and obtuse triangles extend what my students should already know about the different types, acute, right, and obtuse, angles. The students should already know the different types of angles and their properties. We can use their previous knowledge to build towards defining the different types of triangles. I will explain to the students that defining the triangles is like defining the angles. If they can tell me what angles are in the triangle and then tell me the properties of the triangles then they can reason with it and discover which triangle it is by looking at the angles.

green line

How has this topic appeared in pop culture (movies, TV, current music, theatre, etc.)?

I found an article that I like that was written about a soccer club, FC Harlem. FC Harlem was getting a new soccer field as part of an initiative known as Operation Community Cup, which revitalizes soccer fields in Columbus and Los Angeles. This particular field, when it was opened, had different triangles and angles spray painted on the field in order to show the kids how soccer players use them in games. Time Warner Cable was the big corporation in on this project.

 

References:

http://www.twcableuntangled.com/2010/10/great-day-for-soccer-in-harlem/

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 Brittany Tripp. Her topic, from Geometry: defining the terms complementary angles, supplementary angles, and vertical angles

green line

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

I really enjoy getting the students up, out of their seats, moving around, and engaging with one another. One way that you could do this, that would fit for this topic, would be to create different matching cards. You could makes cards that have the names: complementary angles, supplementary angles, and vertical angles. Then to go along with those you could have different cards that have the definitions of the different types of angles and other characteristics about them. You would give each student a card and then turn on some music and have them dance around the room looking for the people that pair with them. I love the idea of music because it gets the students more engaged than just lazily walking around the room. In my opinion, music and dancing your awakens senses and increases student engagement in a way that just walking around doesn’t. After everyone finds the people they pair with you could have each group read off their cards so that everyone else has to opportunity to gain all the information on all of the cards. You could take this one step further and get different angles and measurements and cards ask the students to first find their complementary angle, then supplementary. This would give them the opportunity to actually practice the different types of angles and put definitions to actually problems.

 

green line

What interesting things can you say about the people who contributed to the discovery and/or development of this topic?

A variety of people have contributed to the discovery and development of this topic, for instance: Proclus, Eudemus, Euclid, and that is just to name a few. They all have varying definitions of what an angle itself is and while none of them use the terms complementary, supplementary, or vertical angles, they state things that we now know to be those things. Proclus, or Proclus of Athens, is known to have been “the most authoritative philosopher of late antiquity.” “[He] was eager to demonstrate the harmony of the ancient religious revelations and to integrate them in the philosophical tradition of Pythagoras and Plato.” He also wrote commentaries on a variety of other philosophers and mathematicians works including, but not limited to, Euclid, Aristotle, and Plato. In a commentary of Euclid’s first book of elements, Proclus’s idea, of what an angle is, is presented.

There are also two corollaries given by Proclus in association with Book I Proposition 32 of Euclid’s Elements which discusses the three angles of a triangle. Eudemus, or Eudemus of Rhodes, was a Greek philosopher very present before 300 B.C. He worked closely with Aristotle and Theophrastus. “[Eudemus’s] history of geometry, arithmetic, and astronomy completed the Doctrines of the Natural Scientists of Theophrastus.” There are three known works on the history of Mathematics that were contributed by Eudemus, those, as stated in the previous quote, being: History of Arithmetic, History of Geometry, and History of Astronomy. Eudemus’s idea of what an angle is, is also presented in the commentary of Euclid’s first book of elements.

Of course, considering Eudemus is known for one of his works History of Geometry, I think it is safe to say he contributed much more to Geometry than this simply idea of an angle. Now on to maybe one of the most well known mathematicians, who contributed to the understanding and development of angles, Euclid. There is not very much that anyone knows about Euclid besides when and where he was born. He is mostly known for this contribution to geometry in the Elements. In Euclid’s book, Euclid’s Elements, there are propositions outlining a variety of different types of angles such as supplementary angles and vertical angles. For instance, Book I Proposition 13 of Euclid’s Elements is about supplementary angles and Book I Proposition 15 is about vertical angles.

 

green line

How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

There is a website that I have used before with students that I have tutored and I have really enjoyed using it and see how much the students enjoy using it! The website is IXL Learning (https://www.ixl.com/). I love this website because it has a huge variety of different mathematics topics ranging from grades Pre-K, counting objects, to Twelfth grade, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. The website alone is super appealing because it is very colorful which instantly helps to catch the attention of whomever is using it. All of the grades levels are presented on the homepage so it makes finding the grade you are looking for extremely easy. When you click on the grade level it takes you to a screen that is broken up into categories and within each category there are subcategories. These make it even easier to find/access the specific topic you are looking for. For instance when looking for complementary, supplementary, and vertical angles you can click on tenth grade geometry. The page it takes you to contains a category called Angles. Under the angles category there are subcategories that include angle vocabulary, angle measures, identify different types of angles, as well as other things.

 

 

 

 

Engaging students: Deriving the proportions of a 45-45-90 right triangle

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 Amber Northcott. Her topic, from Geometry: deriving the proportions of a 45-45-90 right triangle.

green line

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

There are ways to make the 45-45-90 right triangle not only interesting, but make it fun. A project or activity that I made up involves architecture using the special right triangle 45-45-90. In the project the students become architects. Their job is to create their own architecture, whether it is a bridge or house, etc. by using 45-45-90 right triangles. They must use a three to ten 45-45-90 right triangles. Once the students figured out how many they will use, they are going to draw their architecture. Then the students will label the sides and angles of what they drew. At the end of the activity or project they will solve the 45-45-90 triangles they used. An option for a long project is to actually build the architecture using measurable materials. The project will allow them to be creative and connect real life to the 45-45-90 right triangle. The students will also present their projects.

Another way to do the activity or project is make it a group activity and give the students some word problems dealing with architecture and have them choose one of those word problems. The students will then take the word problem and create the architecture in the word problem. They can draw it or create it, but it has to be measured and labeled along with finding the missing piece. Then they can present their findings, which includes how they came up with their measurements of sides and angles.

All the ways to do the activity or project will still need the student to be able to answer any questions that their peers or myself may ask. Also, at the end their will be a reflection on the project and their interpretation of how to solve the 45-45-90 right triangle.

 

green line

How has this topic appeared in high culture (art, classical music, theatre, etc.)?

Triangles can be seen everywhere. For example, they can be seen on bridges and buildings. The website geometrinarchitecture.weebly.com has a section talking about the special right triangles, which includes the 45-45-90 right triangle. On the bottom of the page the website shares pictures of windows, roofs, and even a front door is seen within a triangle. The webpage also gives examples of how the special triangles can be used in architecture.

green line

How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic? Note: It’s not enough to say “such-and-such is a great website”; you need to explain in some detail why it’s a great website.

The dynamicgeometry.com website talks about the Geometers Sketchpad. After checking it out, I find that the program can be useful. The students can create their own 45-45-90 right triangles and explore the idea of 45-45-90 right triangles on their own after instructions on how to use the program. This engages them because the student will be able to think, how can I create a 45-45-90 right triangle? What is a 45-45-90 right triangle?  The students will have these questions and more, but those questions will soon be answered throughout the lesson itself.

References

http://geometrinarchitecture.weebly.com/special-triangles.html

http://www.dynamicgeometry.com/index.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Engaging students: Define the term angle and the measure of an angle

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 Perla Perez. Her topic, from Geometry: defining the term angle and the measure of an angle.

green line

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

 

On teacherideas.co.uk, there is a very fun activity that helps students understand what an angle is. Karen Westley’s activity, Learning About Angles, involves the students forming a human angle by getting into two lines (Karen uses only one line) that connect at one point. The instructor then asks them to form angles of different degrees: 45º, 90º, 180º, etc. This activity is meant for ages five to eleven, but it can still be helpful for high school students, and can be modified to fit your class. For example, after finishing this activity have the students give a written definition of what an angle is based on their activity and their knowledge of line segments, vertices, rays, etc.

Resources:

http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/maths/learningaboutangles.htm

 

green line

How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

 

Angles are a fundamental part of geometry. It is essential that students know how to measure them because when coupled with the right information angles can help determine many different things about a shape, such as area, length of an arc, etc. The students will return to these ideas in more advanced math courses, specifically trigonometry and pre-calculus. For example a problem given in inmath.com says: “Find the area of the sector with radius with 7cm and central angle of 2.5 radians.” In order to answer this question, a student must know the two common types of measurement, degrees and radians. The student will also need to differentiate between the radius and radians since they sound similar and can be easily misinterpreted. When it comes to polar coordinates students will need to convert from the measure of an angle to rectangular coordinates which are in the form (x,y) rather in (r,theta).

Resources:

http://www.intmath.com/trigonometric-functions/8-applications-of-radians.php

 

 

 

green line

What interesting things can you say about the people who contributed to the discovery and/or the development of this topic?

 

The measure of an angle can be found in two common ways, through radians and through degrees. Dave Joyce from Clark University in his article “Measurements of Angles” says that even before Thomas Muir created the word radians, many mathematicians like Euler were using the idea long before him. That in fact was essential for his famous formula “e = cos θ + i sin θ”, which is true because “[you] measure angles by the length of the arc cut off in the unit circle”. Over time, mathematicians like Thomas Muir began to rediscover the measure of angles in the same way Euler did. An interesting fact about radians is that the angle is equal to the arc length divided by the radius. It was Euclid’s postulates that contributed to the finding the measures of angles without actually stating whether one uses a form of degrees or radians. This information can be found on the website: http://www.storyofmathematics.com/hellenistic_euclid.html and his book Euclid Elements.

 

Resources:

http://www.clarku.edu/~djoyce/trig/angle.html

http://www.storyofmathematics.com/hellenistic_euclid.html

Euclid’s Elements Book

 

 

 

 

Engaging students: Proving that the measures of a triangle’s angles add to 180 degrees

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 A’Lyssa Rodriguez. Her topic, from Geometry: proving that the measures of a triangle’s angles add to 180 degrees.

green line

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

People generally do not believe something until they can see it for themselves. So this activity can help do just that. Each student will receive a sheet of paper. They are then asked to draw a triangle on that sheet of paper and cut it out. Having each student draw their own triangle allows for many types of triangles and further proving the point later. Once the triangles are cut, each student will rip off each angle from the triangle. Next, they will arrange those pieces so that each vertex is touching the other. Once all the vertices are touching, they will notice that a straight line is formed and therefore proving that the sum of a triangles angles all add up to 180 degrees.

green line

What interesting things can you say about the people who contributed to the discovery and/or the development of this topic?

Euclid proves that the measures of a triangle’s angles add up to two right angles (I. 32) in the compilation geometrical proofs better known as Euclid’s Elements. This compilation was actually all the known mathematics at the time.  So not all of the theorems were written or discovered by Euclid, rather by several individuals such as Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Theudius, Theaetetus and Eudoxus. Euclid’s Elements actually consist of 465 theorems, all of which are proven with only a ruler (straight edge) and compass. This book was so important to the mathematical community that it remained the main book of geometry for over 2,000 years. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that non-Euclidean geometry was considered.

green line

How has this topic appeared in high culture (art, classical music, theatre, etc.)?

Students can be given a variety of images such as the Louvre, the pyramids in Egypt, certain types of sports plays, and the Epcot center in Disney World and then be asked what they all have in common. It may or may not be hard for them to notice but they all have triangles. Then, hand the students the same images but with the triangles outlined and with the measurement of all the angles. They can then compute the sum of the angles for each triangle. Each triangle obviously looks different and all the angles are different but the sum will always be 180 degrees.

 

Resources
http://www.storyofmathematics.com/hellenistic_euclid.html

 

 

 

 

120 degrees

Degrees 120

Source: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialMNSSH/photos/a.1496633560586193.1073741836.1483737848542431/1601360166780198/?type=3&theater

My Mathematical Magic Show: Index

I’m doing something that I should have done a long time ago: collecting a series of posts into one single post. Here’s my series on the mathematical magic show that I’ll perform from time to time.

Part 1: Introduction.

Part 2a, 2b, and 2c: The 1089 trick.

Part 3a, 3b, and 3c: A geometric magic trick (see also here).

Part 4a, 4b, 4c, and 4d: A trick using binary numbers.

Part 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d: Predicting a digit that’s been erased from a number.

Part 6: Finale.

Part 7: The Fitch-Cheney 5-card trick.

Part 8a, 8b, 8c: A trick using Pascal’s triangle.

 

Langley’s Adventitious Angles: Index

I’m doing something that I should have done a long time ago: collecting a series of posts into one single post. The following links comprised my short series on a couple of easily stated but remarkably difficult geometry problems.

Part 1: The world’s second hardest easy geometry problem.

Part 2: The world’s hardest easy geometry problem.

 

 

 

Classroom door for math class

Source: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreTeachers/photos/a.10150774463388708.469877.93919173707/10153475584873708/?type=1&theater

Langley’s Adventitious Angles (Part 1)

Math With Bad Drawings had an interesting post about solving for x in the following picture (this picture is taken from http://thinkzone.wlonk.com/MathFun/Triangle.htm):

I had never heard of this problem before, but it’s apparently well known and is called Langley’s Adventitious Angles. See Math With Bad Drawings, Wikipedia, and Math Pages for more information about the solution of this problem. Math Pages has a nice discussion about mathematical aspects of this problem, including connections to the Laws of Sines and Cosines and to various trig identities.

I’d encourage you to try to solve for x without clicking on any of these links… a certain trick out of the patented Bag of Tricks is required to solve this problem using only geometry (as opposed to the Law of Cosines and the Law of Sines). I have a story that I tell my students about the patented Bag of Tricks: Socrates gave the Bag of Tricks to Plato, Plato gave it to Aristotle, it passed down the generations, my teacher taught the Bag of Tricks to me, and I teach it to my students. In the same post, Math With Bad Drawings has a nice discussion about pedagogical aspects of this problem concerning when a “trick” becomes a “technique”.

I recommend this problem for advanced geometry students who need to be challenged; even bright students will be stumped concerning coming up with the requisite trick on their own. Indeed, the problem still remains quite challenging even after the trick is shown.