I am new enough to blogging that being inspired to write each week feels overwhelming. I was not able to keep up with the Sunday Funday challenges back in August and September, but I am determined to keep up with the once a month #MTBoSBlog18 challenge. I even have it in my Google calendar to help me to remember to brainstorm ahead of time. I was feeling a little bit uninspired about this month’s post, but nonetheless, I was able to come up a few highlights from my most recent Geometry unit on right triangles.
Our Geometry team had made the decision this year to not teach the distance formula, but only to teach it as an extension of the Pythagorean Theorem on the coordinate grid. We reviewed the Pythagorean Theorem within the first month of school, but as we entered our unit focusing on right triangles, I wanted an activity to practice on a graph once again. I love soccer and many of my students love soccer, so I was inspired by this tweet:
I wasn’t able to recreate this in my classroom, but did the best I could on paper. I had fun incorporating current soccer players into my soccer story. I follow US women’s soccer more closely and my husband helped me out with some of the Premier League players. I used this with my Geometry Lab students and this was a great start to build up some confidence in a unit that can be very difficult.
The main component of our right triangle unit is introducting students to trigonometric ratios. Entering into planning for this topic this year, I was wondering if I typically make the jump too quickly from identifying the different ratios to solving for side lengths and angles. I wasn’t sure what else to do, but I ended up on this post from Pam Wilson. The post is from 2013, so I think I may have been in an #MTBoS rabbit hole. Thank you to whoever had linked me there. I had just recently cut out a whole bunch of little cards for another activity, so I decided to turn her work into a Desmos card sort. I was really pleased with how quickly my students were able to pick up on the differences between sin, cos, and tan.
The final challenge in our right triangle unit is setting up word problems with the angle of elevation and angle of depression. By this point, I was really pleased with how well my students were doing with solving problems with trig ratios, but I knew that setting up the pictures was going to be a challenge. To try to isolate the skills, I set up this 2 part worksheet. Before they started, they folded it on the vertical line so that they were only looking at part 1. In part 1, their goal was just to draw the picture and since there weren’t any numbers, they weren’t trying to jump ahead. We used 2 colors to identify the angle and side length that would be given in part 2. We marked with color on the blank and in the picture. Once we got to part 2, they used their color coding to quickly identify where the values belonged in their pictures and then went about solving the problem. Drawing the pictures was still a challenge for sure, but this did help to ease the difficulty a bit. I may try this structure again with other types of word problems as well.