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 project.