Reflection: Joy Solve Real World Problems with Clinometers - Section 2: Launch Clinometer Activity


I have taught this lesson many times and have always found it effective at getting students to literally apply the math they are learning in the classroom to the outside world.  This year, I decided to try to build on the momentum I had started in the previous lesson, where we used Desmos in a whole-class exploration of slope angles and slope ratios.  I spent a couple of minutes talking up the role of technology in the classroom, how cutting-edge advances in technology allowed us to do things we never thought were possible.  I said something to the effect of, “We all have big questions that we might think are impossible to answer…but with technology, we can!”

Then I revealed my homemade clinometer: a rolled up piece of scratch paper, a paper protractor, and a binder clip dangling from a piece of yarn.   The students were obviously unimpressed—most of them laughed—but, more importantly, they were still intrigued.

This small instance is important for me to keep in mind.  To me, it elucidates this idea that the moments when students find themselves smiling, laughing, and experiencing joy are the ones that make them feel like a part of the community, safe, accepted.  I believe that all of my students want to learn math everyday, but interactions like this show me how I can break down barriers, build up engagement, and hook students into wondering and authentic learning. 

  Poking Fun at "High-Tech" Tools to Create Intrigue
  Joy: Poking Fun at "High-Tech" Tools to Create Intrigue
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Solve Real World Problems with Clinometers

Unit 12: Triangle Similarity and Trigonometric Ratios
Lesson 5 of 11

Objective: Students will be able to create and solve real-world math problems using the tangent ratio.

Big Idea: By using clinometers, students will be able to collect data to determine the height of hard-to-measure objects around the campus.

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