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My Spiky Door Project, Days 2/3 (and 4 :( ) #MTBoS

I saw these posts on the Spiky Door Projects (here and here) and was inspired to do this project with my classes.


Throughout this project I was impressed with my students’ desire for perfection when it came to the actual 3D object.  This was surprising to me actually.  My students typically do not have the greatest attention span.  I was trying to get them to realize that using the “slant height” of the pyramid to construct the triangles would be better than trying to achieve isosceles triangles with a ruler alone (these students have only been exposed to compass and protractor on a very rudimentary basis, one of my “flaws” this year).  I didn’t want to give students “direct instruction” on how to construct their pyramids but eventually for some of my students I just had to because they just could not understand  why their lateral triangles would not meet at the right point.  However, I couldn’t believe how many students did not stop after their first iteration was not completely successful.  I loved how some students who “got it” were really helping others around them.  Some students who are typically not as engaged were going all out for this project.  Maybe it was the timing (close to the end of the semester so students REALLY will grasp for anything that will improve their grade) or maybe it was the lower threshold for the task, but whatever it was I really enjoyed seeing my students engaged.


Anytime I break out rulers in class I am always dismayed at how many students do not know how use them.  I had students in multiple classes exclaim that they couldn’t use the ruler i provided as it was in millimeters but the project says centimeters (insert bang head into wall here).  A couple of students wanted to start their measurement of a segment on 1 as opposed to 0.  Approximately half of the students were confused about how to measure a lateral edge versus a slant height and how to label those aspects on their sketches.  Although these issues make me cringe, they also point out how vitally important doing projects like this are to my curriculum.  Students may never need to find the surface area of a trapezoidal prism in the future, but measuring with a ruler (or similar device) is a life skill and therefore incredibly important.  I will make this project and others a mainstay in my curriculum.


For the future, I plan to do a couple of things.  First, the rubric I used needs some better defining for my needs (although I totally appreciate the person who first posted theirs as it really helped make this project more manageable).  Second, I will spend a little more time going over the rubric so that students focus more of their energy on the scale drawings and calculations of the task.  Third, I will find a way to entice my students to finish this project in three days.  Four is entirely too much time for a majority of my students.  I will find a way to get students more on task during the early part of the project18527853_10211765912437584_1035856140326627421_n.jpg.

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Spiky Door – Pyramid Planning – day 1 Reflections #MTBoS

I saw this post about making a Spiky Door and knew that I wanted one for my class :).  Today was day one and I was amazed at the kinds of learning going on.  First, almost all of my students were engaged which is AMAZING for 14 days out from the end of the semester.  Second, I was impressed with my students’ desire to perfect their original sketches after cutting out some trial pyramids.  I am hopeful that this will result in better products.

On the negative side, I had more than one student comment that the ruler they had was not good because it was in mm and the directions said cm (I guess I should mention that it is good they read directions).  I was saddened because this is not the first time we have measured in class but obviously I have more work to do.  Additionally,  I had a student who could not figure out where the lateral sides belonged on her scale drawing.  She kept drawing her sketch like this:IMG_6272.JPG

However, the good part about this experience is that I think she learned A LOT today about visual representations and spacial reasoning – at least I hope.  An additional good part is that one of my least successful students in class actually was helping point out what she needed to change which was awesome to see.

Overall, I like the direction of this project thus far.  I can already see areas of improvement for myself in the future but am happy with the experience regardless.

Posted in Education, Geometry, MTBoS, My Favorite Lessons

Introducing Solid Geometry with Marshmallows and Toothpicks #MTBoS

Today we began the last unit of the year in my Geometry class that involves solid 3-dimensional figures.  I opted to play a game with my students and challenged them to build towers out of marshmallows and toothpicks in a group of three.


The idea was to build the tallest free standing tower in seven minutes..IMG_6245.JPG

It was fun to listen to students as they determined what would make the strongest foundation, ensure that their structure did not get too heavy and topple over, and ensure that they had enough building supplies.

IMG_6243.JPGIt was a good activity and in the end we were able to define some terms for class as well:

edges – “toothpicks” – where two faces meet

faces – the flat “surfaces” of the “solid” (which in our case were invisible and the solid was not really all that solid at all)

vertex or vertices – “marshmallows” – where two edges meet

After the building, students then went online to do a Quizlet (I found one that suited my needs and adapted it) even though I had not introduced the terms.  It was awesome that they were able, through trial and error, to determine the meanings of some of the terminology.