Angle sum in a polygon

Do you want to teach the angle sum property for a polygon?
Here you go!

  1. Ask the students to go to the link: www.mathsteacher.com.au/year8/ch10_geomcons/02_internal/anglesum.htm#internal
  2. There is a lovely self learning module on it. Ask them to learn the formula for sum of angles from it. 
  3. Reinforce it by a discussion.
  4. Ask them to them solve some problems
  5. Take a short 1 question assessment to check their clarity. Give them about 5 minutes to solve it. 
  6. Give them the answer so they can self check their work.
  7. Give them 3 minutes to check with buddies if their answer is not correct. 

I wonder why we need to teach when so much information is given on Google!

In addition, I want to share something that I did. I wanted to know how they felt about the process. So I gave 4 question prompts:

  1. I understood ...
  2. I liked ...
  3. I am confused by ...
  4. In this module ...

Here is one student's response:

Geometry Contemplation

  1. I understood…Though I knew all these formulas and the ways to find the interior angles, exterior angles, etc., it was nice to have someone/something assure you that the way you think is correct. This module was quite easy if you just concentrate on it; I understood many things well.
  2. I liked…I liked the way they made it so simple. We’ve spent 1 or 2 weeks for geometry, trying to understand and get the formulas into our heads. I was quite comfortable with geometry because it was an easy topic…no hard multiplications and division; only many simple additions and subtractions. However, I was stuck today when we did the interior angles and exterior angles because I haven’t done many exercises on them; I didn’t feel as if I can score good marks when there was a geometry test. However, in this module the things we were learning for about a week seemed…extremely easy. Even for the interior angles and exterior angles, I was able to understand them properly.
  3. I was confused by…I wasn’t confused in anything; but if I was to point out one thing, it will be the explanations. Most of the times, I memorize the formulas and do the sums. However, I like understanding the whole idea AND doing the sums. It’s because it’s fun when you fully understand them, and you don’t forget them easily. The only problem is, usually understanding the whole idea takes time and you don’t have much time to understand (perhaps with a very good teacher at your side for one, two hours will get you to understand the whole thing but as we would not be able to do that in Pathways). This module was great; it gave many formulas and, occasionally, explanations. The only problem was that sometimes, the explanation was hard to understand properly.
  4. This Module is…This module was on geometry and how to find out the degrees of the angles. It gave many simple examples and was, quite a five-star module. However, it would have been better if it had some quizzes in it like the one on the percentages did.
Kids must reflect on their work!

% and self study using IT

Grade 8;
Class setting: Group;
Mode of learning: Flip the class ;
Lesson on: Percentage

Website to be used: www.aaamath.com;
Drill work: Textbook

The students worked in groups with their laptops. The school had free WiFi.
As the students often ran in panting with "My battery is about to die" or "Net is working", thereby completely ruining the lesson, I had told them in advance, "Have battery back up for 40 Minutes and WiFi functional. Else you work through the textbook". 
I never had any tech issues...such is the (un) popularity of textbooks!

 Now here is my perfect lesson! 
  1. Clear instructions to the students
  2. Name of the site emailed to them
  3. Modules to be covered circled
  4. The content is clear on the site to be learnt
  5. Try the quiz and practice it till you are confident
  6. Work on the textbook problems
  7. Come for an assessment when you are ready.

Picture perfect lesson...right? 
I mean how can it be bettered (!) ... I am a genius teacher...were the thoughts in my head. And of course the class was SO quiet. IN an IB school where 1 kid is as good as 5...this was a dream come true. I was building SO many skills. 
Take a bow.
  1. They learn independence
  2. Time saver
  3. Organization skill
  4. Comprehension skills
  5. Self-learning
  6. Problem solving in math
  7. Self-paced learning

I should get an award right?
Till...1 voice squeaked, "I just cannot do this! Give me the textbook". 
Harshly woken up from my dreams of fame I was and I wondered who is this rude pipsqueak, when I saw the kid, tears streaming from his eyes. And he said, "I can't do this!". And I found my lesson shattered and failed. 
And all kids stopped working as they waited for the 'Dracula' teacher to be mean!
So what happened?

As you can see:
The site is very text heavy- The kid was dyslexic. It has bright colours - He was ADHD and could not focus. 

I fought my ego, for after all I made a brilliant lesson...and the ego lost. I swallowed the humble pie and handed the kid the textbook. Scooted next to him and helped him through the very traditional way.  The class went back to work. The kid came back to normal from his panic attack. I started breathing again. 

So what did I learn?
  1. Don't call a lesson perfect till it is over!
  2. There is no perfect strategy
  3. Flip the class is not an ideal for all
  4. Plan...and be detached. Be ready to drop the plan and adapt. 

I suppose at least my learning was perfect!

What is Pi? Flip the class

There are 5 words in language that can be used very effectively in Maths classes to develop lessons! 
These are: When? How? Where? Why? and What?

One can make use of these easily. I used them to flip the class for the lesson on Pi. 

I told the students that they would be learning about something called as 'Pi". They have to investigate and find information on the same! They had to work in a team of 2 to 3. 

Task sheet for them, emailed:
Part A - Create 5 original questions around the following on Pi:

  1. What ......?
  2. When ....?
  3. Where...?
  4. Why...?
  5. How...?

Email me your questions and the researched answers.

Part B - “How is circumference of a circle connected with knowledge of pi"?

Email me the information

Part C - Present your findings to the class with a question-answer session. 
This is the assessment of the task


  • Questions selected
  • Information
  • Finding circumference
  • Presentation
  • Team work
  • Time management
One can easily see the number of skills involved in the experience. 

Teaching through a video (Quadratic Equations)

Teaching using a video. (Quadratic Equations)

When we hand out a video to students to learn from, often teachers claim that the students are not really learning or we do not know how to test if they have learnt something.

I think when a video is handed out, we have to give some very good leading questions also to students to extract information out of the video. Else they may not know exactly what they are supposed to learn and can come back with a "that was awesome!" or "that sucked!" approach.

This is how my lesson went:
1. I gave students a weblink for a youtube video on applications of quadratic equations and asked them to spread out with their partner anywhere in the school. The video involves the following:

"An answer to the common question from students, "When am I ever gonna use this stuff?" This episode of Math In Action features Sgt. Rob Krider of the CHP MAIT (California Highway Patrol Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team). Sgt. Krider discusses how the CHP uses mathematics at the scene of an accident to determine the speed of the vehicles involved. Sgt. Krider uses measurements, an equation involving square roots and unit analysis."

2. I gave them a handout with the following questions on it:
  • How many individuals do you see in the video?
  • What exactly are they discussing?
  • What is the story?
  • Which Math topic are they using?
  • Write the formula that they use. 
  • Create a word problem where this formula can be used. 

3. I put them into pairs so they could discuss the answers.
4. I gave them 20 minutes and asked them to choose the space that they wanted to work, anywhere in the school. 
5. Post 20 minutes they had to be back into the class and we had a discussion on it.

...And then we moved to the lesson!

What are the skills involved?
  • Information processing
  • Time management
  • Self discipline
  • Team work
  • Managing material 
Anything else I have missed out?

Scientific notation Self Study lesson plan

Teachers often feel quite burdened by the syllabus. However there are topics that can be left for the students to learn on their own, with some smart strategy on the part of the teacher. 
One such topic is Scientific Notation. 
If you do not wish to teach it directly, this is what you do!

Set clear objectives:
At the end of this lesson, you should know:  

  1. How to convert a number to scientific notation/standard form.   
  2. And the reverse, converting a number back to normal form.

Give the students a clear task sheet. 
Preferably email to them do they can go to the required websites directly. The task sheet language should be SO clear that they don't have to come back to you with questions. (It is hard...took me 2 years to refine my language)

Mine went like this:

  1. Go to the site
  2. Learn about Scientific Notation
  3. Open the site 2
  4. Read and understand the information on scientific notation. 
  5. Scroll down and play the quiz to test your understanding. 
  6. Suppose you were the person who discovered scientific notation. Write a short story describing the discovery.
a)      Why did you discover it?
b)      What inspired you?
c)      Explain conversion to scientific notation using examples
d)      How do you think it can help?
e)      Who does it help?

Give them extra sites for reference:
You can go to the following sites to help find the relevant information:      1 OR 2  
ALWAYS have a timeline. 
It gives boundaries to the students.

  • The story should be typeset in a word document and emailed to me by 9 pm today!         
Give the rubric. 
That also gives the students a good boundary.
Rubric: 15 marks total. 

  • 5 for the language of the story
  • 5 for the accuracy of the scientific notation examples. 
  • 5 for managing the timeline
Always end with an assessment
Students have worked on their own. So there needs to be a short assessment at the end on pen and paper to ascertain learning. That would also take care of the test prep. This can be a short one with 2 questions only too. 5 to 10 minutes. 

What are the skills involved?

  1. Time management
  2. Story writing
  3. Information processing
  4. Self learning
  5. Self discipline

Sine and Cosine graphs

A lot of times students are not ready for using resources that they are expected to by the curriculum. I faced that when my IB SL Maths students had to use the graphic calculator to learn about Sine and Cosine graphs. 

They were students who had just come from CBSE or ICSE background and were not used to the usage of calculators at the IB level. Their comfort zone was shaken and stirred!

I did what any empathic teacher would do. I broke the challenge into baby steps!

  1. They drew the curves on graph paper, just like good ol days! 
  2. THEN we went on the CD, projected onscreen, and saw the graphs and their changes in detail. I kept keying different values and they saw the changes in the graphs.
  3. Finally I asked them to pick up their graphic calculators and try some curve drawing using them.

The fascination and comprehension in their eyes was enough to feel contented!

No fear. Only excitement. The tech friendly generation got it right within minutes!

Self Directed ICT work

We often forget the good old whiteboard can be used for work in the class, even if we are creating a self directed class.

Here is what I did the day I had a sore throat in the class! Creativity and Ingenuity.
I used the board to flip the class.

  1. I used BLUE colour for it is soothing to the eyes. 
  2. I wrote in steps for that is what makes content digestible. 
  3. I felt the board was filling a lot so I used GREEN for extra content. 
  4. When I had to explain, I said "look at the Blue 1" or "Read the Green". That got the attention of all students easily!

Angle sum in a polygon

Do you want to teach the  angle sum property for a polygon? Here you go! Ask the students to go to the link:  www.mathsteacher.com.a...