Teaching Geometry Should Focus on the Difficult Vocabulary

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If you've ever taken geometry from elementary school to college, you know that there are hundreds of terms and words that must be learned in order to make sense of geometry.  Think about all names of the shapes, lines, angles, solids, etc. that you must learn before you can adequately attempt to describe geometric figures and shapes!  One of the keys to successful geometry instruction in the elementary grades is to focus on the vocabulary.


This blog post will focus on 3 ways I try to make the vocabulary accessible to my students, but also get it to stick!  Repetition in various ways is the key.  I try to make the ways fun and different.  In this blog post, you will read about how I use some hands on materials, technology and games to teach my students the multitude of geometry terms.

Also, read my previous BLOG POST on how I structure my math instruction.  But here's a quick rundown in the following chart.



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HANDS ON


This year I decided NOT to make flap books and mini books, etc of the all the geometry terms.  They're fine for learning the terms, but it's not enough.  I wanted to find ways to visually represent the vocabulary but also be manipulative.  So I made cards that the students cut apart to use for instruction.  On the back of each card, not only did we write the name, but also a real life connection.  For example, railroad tracks can help you remember parallel lines; a street intersection can help you remember perpendicular lines, etc.  Once the vocabulary is introduced, the cards can be manipulated in many ways.


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We sorted them, classified them, compared and contrasted them and even alphabetized them.  The point was to get the students talking and remembering the vocabulary by moving the cards around.  The cards later on would be used for the review period or as a resource during independent practice or technology integration.

Another hands on approach involved and oldie but goodie kinesthetic movement approach to show the different types of lines and angles.  Students used their arms to show parallel lines or right angles or intersecting lines, etc.


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We sort of made up our own chants (rather than me give them one) so that way they had more ownership and would remember easier.  Again, the next day we did this as the review.  Review doesn't always have to be a paper and pencil task.

If  you need a manipulative to teach angles, here's a very inexpensive one.  With just one box from the 99 cent or Dollar Store, you have 100 bendable straws that can be used to make angles!  Just cut the longer side in half, cut a slit in the shorter side and then stick the cut half into it.  Now you have a straw that bends at the vertex to show the different angles!  Again, use them the next day for review.


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TECHNOLOGY


As I've blogged about many times before, I'm in a 1:1 classroom and and have found so many uses for Google Slides.  My favorite is to create digital interactive notebooks for whatever we happening to be learning at the time.  I created several small ones to complement this unit.


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In the Polygons Interactive Notebook, students had to use the drawing tools to show the shape, name the shape, number the sides, trace the sides, tell how many angles and sides, etc.  Again, not only did it reinforce the vocabulary but they practiced learning the attributes as well (which of course involves all the previous vocabulary).  The students worked on their interactive notebook after they completed the independent practice from their math book.  I am currently working on bringing this Polygons Interactive Notebook to my store in the coming months!  Check out my store for the latest Google Slides resources!

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One resource I like to add to my digital interactive notebooks is some type of animation that will help the student.  Here's an example of the one I added to the Polygons Interactive Notebook.

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Finally, I just discovered a great feature on Learnzillion.com.  If you've never used Learnzillion, I highly recommend it!  It has FREE resources (including instructional videos) that you can now assign DIRECTLY to Google Classroom.  When you hit the share button, there now should be a Google Classroom link.  Click on it and follow the screen instructions (essentially it just opens up your Google Classroom in another window and you proceed as usual to create an assignment).  It's very easy and very much appreciated.  I like assigning the instructional videos as homework or for review. What I find very valuable about Learnzillion is that I can search by Common Core standards which is a huge time saver for me.  Since my students can also access Google Classroom at home, Learnzillion resources can also be used as a tutor when the teacher is not there or the parent is unable to help with homework.


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GAMES


Since repetition is the key to learning all this vocabulary, why not make it fun!  This is a game that I have been using for many years to review all the vocabulary.  This is especially helpful before a test and before standardized testing.  It is available in my store HERE.


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GEOMETRY GAMES  includes 5 game boards that cover:  plane shapes, solid shapes, lines and angles, quadrilaterals and triangles.  Each game comes with its own set of cards to use.  Just add game markers and a die or penny.  Each game also has a resource poster and answer key.  I've laminated my copies and put them in baggies for easy access and storage.


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Finally, you might be interested in following these Pinterest boards I created for Geometry in the Elementary Grades and Google in the Classroom.  They have dozens of wonderful tips, resources, ideas and links to for teaching geometry and with technology.  Check them out!


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I'm hopeful that you've picked up some valuable tips to teaching geometry vocabulary in the elementary grades.  What are your great tips?










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