The beginning part of this lesson is designed to get students excited about the shapes they will be studying in geometry. It is important to build their excitement in math in order to gain their focus when explaining more complex concepts.
To build their excitement about two-dimensional shapes I have the students explore the shapes using pattern blocks. Pattern blocks are a classroom tool that the majority of students have been using since kindergarten. Even at fifth grade, students are still excited to use these tools. I did not provide many directions for the students before they begun this exploration. I simply gave them some pattern blocks and a pattern block puzzle. I ask the students to explore the puzzles using the pattern blocks. I also allow them to switch puzzles with someone at their table.
After about ten minutes I ask the students to clean up but keep one shape and meet me in the campfire. In my room, the campfire is a place where all students can sit on the floor and we have classroom discussions.
While in the campfire I have the ability to have a focused class discussion with my students. Because students are in close proximity of each other, it is easier to keep them engaged in the conversation. I have very clear expectations for my students when they are in the campfire. Everyone needs to be sitting crisscross-applesauce. When someone is speaking in the campfire I expect that students are looking and listening to the speaker. We also do a lot of turning and talking to neighbor while answering questions. This is great strategy in order to get all students talking about their learning.
The campfire time for this lesson will be focused on having students discussing the attributes of the shapes they brought with them. I start out by telling the students what attributes are and the types of things we will be looking at. (i.e. angles, parallel lines, perpendicular lines, vertices, sides.) I then tell them to listen carefully for when I am describing their shape. When they hear a description of their shape I expect them to stand up.
Now I begin giving a description of one of the shapes that the students have in their hand. I start out by just giving students attributes about the number of parallel lines and number of each type of angle. Once I have the students standing up that have that shape, I continue by asking them questions. At this time I can ask students about the number of vertices and number of sides. After completing the first shape, I have students sit back down and then ask all students to turn to a neighbor and discuss the shape we just looked at. I expect at this time that the students are discussing the attributes for shape. I repeat this entire process for each shape.
The final step in this lesson is to have students make a connection between the two-dimensional shapes and the real world. Shapes are all around us and I think sometimes students don’t make the connection between shapes and their environment.
As students return to their seats I ask them to begin looking around the room for some shapes that they see. The first minute I have them just sit and look quietly, then I have them share with their group the shapes that they have found. After a few more minutes I have the students share out a few examples of shapes that they found. I further their thinking by asking them to give me examples of that object's attributes.