A Pythagorean Stations Lesson

I’m so glad that I’ve joined the group trying to blog weekly…although I’ve not been very good at achieving the goal.  Teaching an undergrad class (Math for Elementary Teachers) came up suddenly and it’s completely absorbed my free time. 49411-mtboschallenge_3 This week’s prompt is October Goals (you can also share a weekly summary).  Check out @luvbcd blog here and @druinok blog here for posts that are a part of this challenge. I wanted to share a lesson that I wrote for 8th grade teachers to use when beginning a unit on Pythagorean Theorem.  My goal for October will be to work on writing other lessons with a similar degree of detail. When I was still in the classroom…all of the detail of my lessons lived in my head.  I’m really working on how to articulate more clearly/explicitly the details of a lesson so that someone else can implement with ease. When researching lessons to introduce Pythagorean Theorem…I considered:

I then did some Internet research and came across this idea as a way to launch into an investigation: Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 8.56.08 AM I liked this as a way to keep students coming back to the purpose of their investigation…which offer would you choose? I decided I wanted students to experience multiple ways of looking at the relationship between the areas of the squares on the sides of the right triangle…so I developed three different stations.  The Google Drive folder with the materials for this Discover Pythagorean Stations is here.  You should make a copy of the materials so that you can edit and make your own.

Here is what I did at each of the three stations:

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Some think abouts for using this activity:

  • For this activity, I would definitely get another set of hands in the room (I was the second set of hands in my building).  We ran 2 groups of each station…so that you can split your kids up into 6 groups.
  • For the NLVM site…make sure the computers you get are up to date with Java.  You need to do this prior to doing the activity.  (For groups of 3-4 we used only 1 or 2 computers at each of these stations–kids worked together).
  • Kids will need the most help on the computer station and the tangram station.  Here is the answer key for the tangram station (if kids struggled…I would get them started with the big red piece location).
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  • For the recording document…I tried to get them to consistently draw a sketch of what they saw with any quantities that were important to figuring out which students chose wisely re: the gold.
  • I kept coming back to what we were trying to figure out.  Who made the best decision…two smaller squares of gold or the one large square of gold.  Kids figured it out after the first station…and their a-has were priceless.  I still think it was useful to work through each of the three different ways to look at it.  So at the end, I asked them to reflect on what they learned and which station was most effective for their learning.

Here is student work from the recording document: Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 9.25.51 AM

Some Pythagorean Problems to solve:

Additional Resources you might consider:

A Favorite Activity: Create-A-Quiz

This is part of a challenge to blog weekly for the school year.  See other posts at #MTBoSChallenge.


I missed yesterday’s link up to share a favorite game or activity…and @luvbcd already shared one of my favorite games SKUNK.  See her post here.

One of my favorite things to do towards the end of learning about a topic is to have the students “Create-A-Quiz.”  The most important part of this assignment is that they MUST make it a multiple choice quiz.

I talk about quizzes and tests with the students and ask them how they think the multiple choice questions are created.  We discuss how the common errors/misconceptions are used to create the WRONG answer choices.  We go over a few examples of how this might be done…focusing on all of the different ways students might respond for a particular question.  Then, I have them work with a partner to make their 4 question multiple choice quiz.  They, of course, must have the correct answer marked for me so that I know they understand the question themselves.

I often use some of the student-created questions as quiz problems and name the authors on the assessment.

I love this activity because the students are focusing on the errors that might occur while using a ton of math talk to come up with the question and the multiple responses.  I think it would be a nice extension to have students come up with multiple select items for their quiz as well.

#MTBoSChallenge A 3 + 2 + 1 Summary

I missed blogging last week because we were trying to enjoy the “last unofficial” weekend of summer.  I want to continue on this journey of blogging weekly as part of the #MTBoSChallenge…so here goes.


I’m having a hard time figuring out how to break down my 3-2-1 summary…so I just decided to share 3 + 2 + 1 things that I’m thinking about now…

  1. This was the first week of classes at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.  This is where I spent my undergrad years as a math major and now I live about 7 minutes away.  I’m co-teaching Math for Elementary Teachers with a colleague from within my middle school building.  I haven’t taught anything like this class before and it’s a wonderful challenge.  I expect to spend lots of time perusing the blogs of @TracyZager@JSchwartz10a@gfletchy, and @Trianglemancsd.
  2. I’m super excited because I decided to ask our PTSA to purchase the book study bundle for Powerful Problem Solving from @maxmathforum for our math department.  They agreed to do it and so far about 10 out of 12 people in the department that completed my google survey said they would be interested in reading the book together.  A resource teacher at one of the other middle schools liked the idea so much, she asked her principal if they could pursue the same thing.
  3. One of my responsibilities this year is supporting our In School Intervention room for one period a day (this is for the students that have been disciplined).  While the students are in there, they are supposed to complete the work they are missing from not being in class.  I am there to give them any help that they may need.  The other day, however, the students had completed their work and needed something else to do.  I decided to check out the Math Munch games tab.  I steered the students towards Light-Bot, as I was familiar with the game because of #HourofCode.  They were completely engaged and were shouting “YES!” when they would complete a challenging level.  I plan to expose them to some of the other critical thinking games on the site.
  4. I need to start working on Professional Development that I will be delivering inside the building on September 19th.  Another colleague (reading/language arts department chair) and I were asked to co-present on accommodations and modifications in the general education classroom.  We will each have suggestions specific to content, but, our over-arching theme will be how to minimize executive functioning weaknesses.
  5. As I’m sitting here trying to think of my number 5…I’m thinking my 1 through 4 are quite a lot.  So…I’m going to take a minute to pay attention to the NFL Sunday that I’m watching right now before I continue on with my #6. [GO REDSKINS!]
  6. I’m not in the classroom anymore…so I don’t have a place to implement all of the lessons/activities that I’d want to.  This week…I’ve seen these great posts: