January edition: a comedy of errors

I teach 7th grade math in Georgia, and one of the standards we worked on this month was on basic geometry constructions (copy a segment & an angle, bisect a segment & an angle, construct parallel & perpendicular lines). I thought I knew how to do constructions, I even researched to find online demonstrations, cool instructional videos, and helpful notes on the various steps.

Wow, what a bust! My kiddos reeeaaaalllly do NOT get it! Not only do they not remember the basic steps, but they don’t understand WHY they work, and isn’t that the whole point? Yes, we discussed the “why” part in class, and a few bright students carried the discussion while the others sat there trying not to look confused. Not good enough. (Imagine that, right?)

Mistakes I made:

  1. Thinking that direct instruction was enough to create understanding,
  2. not providing enough concrete experiences for them to learn the whys behind the whats, and
  3. moving way too fast (see mistake #2 as a reason for this).

How I’m going to improve:

  1. Prepare activities that will aid in gaining understanding, I’m especially leaning towards constructions with patty paper and also using Geometer’s Sketch Pad (our school has a license) and/or Geogebra.
  2. Make my future self a giant note on bright-colored paper about how NOT to teach this unit next year.

Do you have any awesome activities or resources that help your students understand constructions? I would love to hear your input and ideas!