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Are Trapezoids "Trapping" Your Students?

In a previous posting (Aliens and Trapezoids, July 7, 2011) I shared with you how I taught my students to remember the word trapezoid.  Today, I would like to talk about the characteristics of a trapezoid. 

As I search on Pinterest, I find quadrilaterals that look like the one on the right classified as "trapezoids".  Indeed they are, but this is a special kind of trapezoid because it has one set of equal sides, one line of symmetry and one set of parallel sides.  It is called an isosceles trapezoid.  Isosceles means "having two equal sides" just as an isosceles triangle has.
BUT to be a trapezoid, the only characteristic needed is one set of parallel sides.  Look at the red quadrilateral on the left.  It is a trapezoid because it has one set of parallel sides.  YET, students rarely see this kind except on those math tests that COUNT!  Why?  Because those trapezoids (and test writers) are out to "get" your students.  So think about it.  Are the trapezoids in your classroom trying to "trap" your students or can your students recognize a trapezoid even if it doesn't have symmetry? 


I love teaching geometry, and therefore I have several geometry products for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Geometry Parodies - The four page handout includes 20 unusual definitions of geometric terms such as “A place where people are sent for committing crimes.” Each definition is a play on words or a parody.

Plane Geometry Test - This 100 point assessment is over
plain geometry concepts and focuses on using and applying geometry. Measuring and categorizing angles, identifying lines, angles, quadrilaterals, etc., solving for circumference, using formulas, recognizing symmetry, and comparing using and applying geometry. Measuring and categorizing angles, identifying lines, angles, quadrilaterals, etc., solving for circumference, using formulas, recognizing symmetry, and comparing two quadrilaterals are included.

Plane Geometry Vocabulary Crossword - This puzzle is designed so that the student will practice and use geometric vocabulary. It is a free form crossword puzzle that features 25 different geometry terms. The 25 clues are in the form of definitions which emphasize points, lines, and angles.

Solid Geometry Test - This 100 point test is a summative assessment given at the end of the solids unit in our math book. It highlights using and applying formulas to find area, perimeter, circumference, surface area, and volume.

Solid Geometry Vocabulary Crossword - This crossword puzzle is designed to practice geometric vocabulary and recognize formulas. It is a free form crossword puzzle that features 23 different geometric terms or formulas. The 23 clues are in the form of definitions or a formula format which give emphasis to polyhedrons, circles, and formulas for area, surface area, and volume.

Geometry Humor

Diving into Learning is having a Pinterest Linky party this week.  Those interested are creating a blog article about some of the marvelous "finds" they have downloaded or used from Pinterest.  They then go to the Diving into Learning blog and link up.  I have already seen some very creative ideas there; so, you might want to check it out for your classroom as well.

I only started on Pinterest about a year ago, but I love it.  Not only do I post many resources and teaching ideas there, but I learn so-o-o much.  For example, I learned how to pack one suitcase with enough stuff for a week.  (My husband is thrilled with this one.)  I also learned that when you fry bacon, to make a small cup out of aluminum foil; pour the bacon grease into it; let the grease harden; then close up the aluminum cup and toss it into the trash.  That is one I use all of the time!

On my Pinterest account I have a board entitled Humor - We Need It!  I post many math cartoons or humorous sayings there.  My favorite subject to teach my college remedial math students is geometry, and I have plenty of corny jokes that I intersperse into my lessons.  Here's one.

What did the little acorn say when it grew up?  Gee- I'm - A - Tree!  (Geometry) 

Or about this one?
What did the Pirate say when his parrot flew away?  Polly-Gone  (Polygon)

Here are some other geometry funnies from Pinterest.

Try placing a riddle or cartoon in the middle of a test.  I often do, and I know exactly where the students are by their laughs.  It helps them to relax and maybe get rid of those mathphobic tendencies.  I hope these math cartoons brought a smile to your face.  Have a great week of teaching!

You might also like Geometry Parodies, a four page handout that includes 20 unusual definitions of geometry terms.  Each definition is a play on words or a parody.  Twenty-six geometric terms that are possible answers are listed in a word bank, but not all of the words are used in the matching exercise.  An answer key is included.

Follow the Bouncing Ball?

My name is Patricia Potts.  I am an elementary teacher with an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction and experience teaching grades K through 8 (although not all at the same time, thankfully).  Due to my children's special needs, my husband and I made the decision last year to homeschool our six year old twins.  It has been a wonderful learning journey.  I would like to thank Vicky for this chance to be a guest blogger, and I wish her a speedy recovery.


Bouncy Ball Math

So how did it get to be February already?  Time to check on how those New Year resolutions are going.  Feeling a little guilty about some of that exercise equipment that's getting more use as a coat rack these days?  I know how you feel.  I have two large, exercise balls lurking around the house, relics of January resolutions long forgotten.  My twins love them, but have yet to master the fine line between playing with the exercise balls vs. having them zinging around the house crashing into breakable items.  So usually these balls are banished to a storage closet only to put in brief appearances when I have to displace them while looking for my quilting supplies.
Such was the case this week and my girls were quick to snatch the exercise balls up with exclamations of glee when they saw I had unearthed them while on a hunt for my sewing supplies.  I was about to break the news of the exercise balls' imminent return to the closet when I saw what one of the girls was doing.  She was bouncing on the ball while counting.  Yes, COUNTING! I say this with capitals because I jump at any chance I have to get math into their lives. She was trying to do 100 bounces and was counting (out loud even) with each bounce. Then she started counting the odds and then the evens from 0 to 10.  After she got done with that set, I realized we had a good thing going and had both of the girls bounce count in fives and tens. Then we worked from 20 back to 0.  

If you're into multiple intelligence learning this is a great kinesthetic activity.  So, go check out the exercise equipment you have lurking might find something for the basis of a math activity.
Just in case those resolutions to eat healthier have also suffered some, ahem, minor bumps, raid your pantry for some dried beans (it will conveniently leave more room for chocolate) and set up a math center. My freebie download of The Bean Game: Practicing the Number Bonds can be found over at my TPT store.

You can see how we used the bouncy balls and the beans and many other things by visiting our 1st grade classroom via my blog, Lessons In Homeschooling.

P.S.  Patricia has an awesome blog.  Her articles are interesting, well written, and offer activities that I can even do.  She hasn't been a blogger very long; so, take a moment to check it out.  While you are there, become a follower!