Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Geometry Tech Tool: Math Is Fun-Geometry Constructions

Constructions are largely discussed in the CCSSM, but their practice has been long-gone in many Geometry classrooms. Some teachers don't even know how to create constructions; and I know this because I was one of them. Through the years, I've now had my practice at them, but I am still uneasy about Constructing a Hexagon inscribed in a Circle (I'm not kidding... CCSSM HSG-CO.D.13).  I've come to rely on technology for helping create constructions in my classrooms, as it is easier to start over and see mistakes as you make them than it is when you make hand-drawn constructions. This tool is one of the "go to" resources for constructions since it shows students how to create the constructions. They can then apply these in any of our online workspaces or by hand!


Name & Link to Tech Tool or Tool homepageMath Is Fun-Geometry Constructions

Brief Description of Tech Tool: This tool allows for students to build up a procedural fluency in creating constructions. The website offers instructions in creating geometric constructions using the basic tools: straight edge, compass. and pencil.

Technical & Cost considerations: This is a free tool provided from Math is Fun, a common website for math games. You may need to check your firewall at work to make sure your students can access this site.


Description of Learning Activity

This tool can be used to assist an in-class or at-home practice of creating geometric constructions. This tool is useful for helping students to learn the rules of constructions and to practice making the various constructions. Students will be able to apply these constructions outside of the applet either via paper and pencil or with other technology such as GeoGebra or the Geometer's SketchPad.

1. Learning Activity Types
LA-Present-Demo -Students are watching demonstrations of how to create various geometric constructions using simple tools.

2. What mathematics is being learned?

NCTM Standards

draw and construct representations of two- and three-dimensional geometric objects using a variety of tools;

Proficiency Strands

  • PS-procedural fluency Students work on developing their fluency with the procedures necessary to create various constructions using simple tools as they watch the videos. 

  • Additional comments on what is being learned

    Students will be practicing making geometric constructions using simple tools, however since the tools in the demonstrations are virtual, students will likely struggle with them if they are able to use a hands-on version of the tool. They may be used to the tools staying in precise places and moving fluidly, but will find that the real-world version is not as easy to maneuver. Keep this in mind while planning lessons that involve hands-on construction, as even though students will be prepared with the procedure, they will still be sticky with the enactment.

    3. How is the mathematics represented?

    The tool provides videos of virtual geometric tools uses to create constructions of various Euclidean geometry components: lines, angles and figures. The videos also support learning key geometric vocabulary such as bisector and midpoint.

    4. What role does technology play?

    Technology is helpful in automating the process for creating constructions. If students have the tools readily available to them, they are able to watch the video and create their own constructions alongside the instructions. Technology enables students to view and practice this independently or with a partner. Technology assists the teacher here in providing clear and accurate descriptions of constructions along with showing the tools moving fluidly and working together, which is sometimes difficult with the real-world tools.

    Affordances of Technology for Supporting Learning

    Communicating and Collaborating This tool is helpful for teachers to communicate with students about how to create various constructions. 

    5. How does the technology fit or interact with the social context of learning?

    This tool could be quite helpful for teachers to give to students as individuals or pairs or even small-groups to watch the videos and practice their constructions. Students can pause the video at any time and can even read the instructions alongside the video to make sure they are creating the correct construction.

    6. What do teachers and learners need to know?

    Teachers and students only need access to watch the videos for creating constructions. However, it is helpful if students and teachers are familiar with geometry software such as GeoGebra or Geometer's SketchPad so that they can create the constructions while watching the videos. 

    How it Supports & Supplements PBL/PrBL

    Constructions can prove invaluable in projects where students are designing or creating final products. However, not all students are on the same page when it comes to creating constructions: some have done constructions the old-school way in their elementary classes, and others have no idea that "construction" could be a mathematics term. Either way, this tool is helpful for teachers to share with their students to gain individual practice in the procedures of creating constructions using hands-on or virtual manipulatives.