Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Geometry Problems

When I was assigned to teach geometry last year I thought I would love it.   It seemed so simple.  It's just shapes!  There aren't many numbers! It's pretty!  Being at an arts school I felt like I got the easy assignment.  Connecting Algebra 2 to art was a bit of a stretch at times, but geometry?  That stuff is art.

Oh how naive I was.  For sure some parts were easy, but the class ended up being really haphazard.   I had some interesting projects (I'll upload them when I remember) that I will modify and reuse, but I didn't love the way I structured the class.

I also had a hard time getting the course to be at the right difficulty level.  And a lot of the stuff was review.  Gee, a square has four sides of the same length?  Most know that.  But it's supposed to be new and fancy because I'm throwing in the term "congruent" and some x's here and there.  A square has 4 congruent sides.  Much more high school level.  Label one side of the square "x+7" and the other side "3x+1" and somehow the problem is extra hard.

Then there was stuff that was crazy hard for my students.  Let me introduce you to: Angles of Elevation and Depression . My students had limited algebra ability so problems that had two variables instantly upped the ante.  Add in word problems requiring the students to draw pictures, and multiple set ups of trigonometric rations and we have a recipe for disaster.  Here is an example from IrrationalCube's Blog

And during particular units (cough, cough, quadrilaterals, cough cough, circles) there was so much to cover that I just rocketed through everything. I felt like I was just throwing theorems at the students.  On a good day they "discovered" the theorem themselves.  But most of the stuff seemed so disconnected and not necessary.  When was the last time you needed to solve a problem like these:

If your answer was...high school geometry or ....the GRE....then I think you fall in with the majority of Americans.

I haven't quite come up with solutions yet, but this is the first year I'm reteaching a class, so I'm excited for the opportunity to figure it out.  I'll be splitting the class with another teacher (she has 2 sections, I have 2 sections) so I'm really grateful to have someone next door to bounce ideas off of.   While I still don't think I'm in love with geometry I'm ready to give it a go.

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