Writing About Symmetry: A sister lesson to Discovering the Meaning of Line Symmetry

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SWBAT show they can identify and explain line symmetry of a design.

Big Idea

Students use the design they created in the last lesson to write an explanation of what they discovered about its symmetry.

Quilts and Symmetry

10 minutes

There is a small quilt hanging on the back wall of my room. We have talked about it and used it for multiplication concepts, area and now we are looking at it for understanding symmetry.

I brought the quilt down and had students sit in a circle as I sat down next to them and placed it in the center. We discussed the pattern. I told them it was a version of an old pattern I had made up, but it is similar to something called Ohio Star.

I asked them to look for lines of symmetry within the quilt. They traced lines with their fingers across in diagonal directions. They noticed that the triangles on the edges were symmetrical if folded in half vertically. We talked about the language of symmetrical folding: vertical, horizontal and diagonal to review from our lesson yesterday. 

We talked about how geometry is in our quilts and that understanding triangles, symmetry and design was a part of quilt making. I told them we would revisit quilts later on in the year when we have a lesson on quilts and the significance it has in American history.

Writing About Our Discovery

15 minutes


I opened this part of the lesson by asking students to get out their finished and cut out design from yesterday's lesson Discovering Line Symmetry. I told them they were going to write about their design. I explained that I wanted them to write and tell me how they discovered how many lines of symmetry they had in their design. I used this Writing Guide to help students have a visual for expectations and for vocabulary. I opened the file and I explained I wanted it written on loose leaf and that it was to be a small paragraph no longer than 5 sentences.I told them I wanted them to use words that applied to symmetry. I listed, horizontally, vertically, and diagonally on the board as I called on students to show which direction each of those words signified using their hands.  I was clear in my explanation that they needed to state how many lines of symmetry their design had and how they figured it out.

They began to write their first draft. The first draft needed to be peer edited and rewritten before they could glue it and the design to black construction paper. Student Sample When students were done with their writing, they wrote their names on the board and then returned to their desk to read a book while they waited. Who ever was next to write their name on the board, became their partner. This little system worked really well.

As they began to peer edit. I wandered around listening and watching what they were doing. It didn't take very long and students were all done, back at their seats and working on their final copy. It was a simple writing assignment and students seemed to work very well. I stayed fairly distant from the process this time because I would be conferencing with each of them about their writing. I knew some students would be writing corrections after our conference, but I wanted them to experience peer editing and independent writing with minimal corrections from me.


30 minutes

I started to conference with students as soon as they thought they were ready to bring me their work. Other students finished their work and began to read as this lesson bled over into reading class. Some students really had a hard time distinguishing symmetry and did not master the standard yet. I conferenced with them and sent them back to work on re writing their work after they used the mira and discovered their errors. The mira tool helped them see that they weren't looking for the edges to line up in their folds.Discovering I'm Wrong shows how we can use the Mira to help see how things align. Understanding symmetry shows how this student learned that accuracy is important to prove symmetry.

As I conferenced with each of them, I read their writing aloud. Some students had reverted back using inaccurate descriptions of folding. We talked about how we needed to fix those words to be clearer.Using accurate words shows how this student is learning that he needs to substitute the word "went" for "folded." He revised his work after our conference.Another student needed to be clearer in her explanation. I used sticky notes and gave her guidance about accurate math language. Needs to be edited better.

During the peer editing process, students had obviously not paid attention to wording, but focused on paragraph organization and punctuation.

One student did have some difficulty explaining in writing her lines of symmetry. I had her video her explanation on Educreations, hoping that she would understand how to count the lines of symmetry a little better. We discussed the words of horizontal, diagonal and vertical before the video. She got stuck on that  and did not understand how to use the words correctly as demonstrated in her video. She does correct herself to say there are only two lines of symmetry. The Mira made a big difference for her. This support was essential to her learning!

I closed the lesson by complimenting them on how hard and how quickly they worked to produce writing about their symmetrical designs. I also told them that any recopied work would be finished tomorrow during writing time. Most mastered the standard through these two lessons and I am certain that they have a more in depth understanding of symmetry after exploring it through their own created designs.