Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding The Many Faces of Surface Area - Section 3: Exploration


Even though the physical model, the 3D drawing, the 2D net, and the verbal descriptions all represent the same thing students have trouble transitioning between them. One tricky part of the 3D drawing is that students  have trouble visualizing each face because they are not all visible. They may think there are only 3 "sides" or "faces" when there are actually 6. Asking them to label the faces "front", "top", "right side" helps a lot because these terms naturally imply an opposing but equal face (back, bottom, left side). Also, asking them to think about the shape and dimension of each face as well as attend to which other faces each is connected to can help them visually "turn" the figure in their heads.

They also have trouble with the "side" and "top" views of the faces in a 3D drawing. Because they do not appear rectangular in shape they have trouble "seeing" the dimensions. At one point I asked if it would help them if the dimensions were labeled. This was a nice way of letting them think that it was their idea, when actually it supports my aim of weaning them from the visuals. Seeing how useful the dimensions are will help them see how the calculations relate to them.

  Visualizing helps spacial reasoning
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Visualizing helps spacial reasoning
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The Many Faces of Surface Area

Unit 9: Exploring Surface Area
Lesson 5 of 6

Objective: SWBAT calculate the surface area of a rectangular prism from a drawing.

Big Idea: Students discover the relationship between the dimensions of each face of a prism and the dimensions of the prism.

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Math, surface area, Geometry, rectangular prism, open ended questions, multiple methods, Student Choice, multiple representations, Mathematical connections
  55 minutes
describing 3d prism
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