I inherited a geometry class last semester that was already two months into the curriculum and it was very frustrating that their basic sense of shape hadn't been strengthened. I was supposed to start with congruent triangles, but many of them didn't even know what a right angle was supposed to look like. It was too late to go back and work on basic drawing skills but I've been thinking about how to help students with little practical drawing experience succeed in geometry. Gone are the days when all students had formal art classes and without these classes, their visualization and drawing skills are so weak that geometry can be really challenging and frustrating.
With the new semester, I'm starting over with a new class and I'm working on building more drawing and visualization into my curriculum. I've just written up a lesson tied to Vi Hart's angleatron video. I want my students to be able to do rough sketches of all the basic angles so that their drawings, when we get to triangles and polygons can be at least a little bit accurate.
First I'll show my students the video and have them try to explain how the different angleatrons were formed.
Then I'll have the students make the different angleatrons, name their vertices, sides and the angles themselves.
Then I want my students to try making 3 different geometric patterns using their angleatrons like Vi Hart did.
Finally, they'll each pick the pattern they like the best and we'll make a class quilt out of their different patterns.
I'm a little nervous because a lot of my students really hate drawing, but I hope the structure of this activity and Vi Hart's beautiful examples will help.
Here's the lesson sheet I'm planning to use: