Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-4

A Rocket Shape

Video Overview

The class looks at a rocket shape that was made by cutting apart a five-inch-by-five-inch paper square. Students are then given a paper square of the same size and challenged to use all of it to duplicate the rocket. Students develop spatial sense as they experiment and explore with the square. Students must use their spatial sense to subdivide a square to create a shape that is just like the rocket shape they were shown and estimate lengths to determine where to cut the square. Students must plan carefully to cut their square into the appropriate-sized shapes - a rectangle, one large triangle, and two small triangles. Many students quickly cut pieces without planning and find they need to redo the process. One student designs his own creation and is redirected to the task at hand. The students work diligently and are questioned on their thinking and their work. When students complete their rockets, they reconvene as a class to discuss the difficulties they had and the problem-solving strategies they used.

Topics for Discussion

The following areas provide a focus for discussion after you view the video. You may want to customize these areas or focus on your own discussion ideas.

Learning In a Bilingual Classroom

  1. Describe the use of English and Spanish by Mr. Ramirez and the students in the video.

  2. How did Mr. Ramirez use verbal and nonverbal forms of communication to ensure success at some level for all students in the class?

  3. What strategies did Mr. Ramirez use throughout the lesson to encourage and engage all students?

  4. Why is a task like recreating the rocket shape appropriate for a bilingual classroom?

  5. What qualities do you observe in Mr. Ramirez as he interacts with his students?

Developing Spatial Sense

  1. How do activities of this type develop students' sense of space?

  2. What did you learn about the students' spatial sense as you watched them work on creating the rocket shape?

  3. What value does letting students struggle with a problem such as the rocket shape have? How does a teacher decide when to let a student struggle and when to intervene?

  4. One boy made his own shape rather than trying to make the rocket shape. How did Mr. Ramirez handle this situation? How else could it have been handled?

  5. What strategies did students use to create the rocket shape?

  6. None of the students chose to fold the paper to create the various parts for the rocket. Explain this decision.

  7. Identify the various results by the students and how Mr. Ramirez handled various levels of accuracy.

  8. Before the lesson, students had been engaged in a paper-folding task. The students did not appear to connect this activity with their paper-folding task as Mr. Ramirez had expected. Should this connection have been made? If so, how?


Tangram and Pattern-Block Activities

Tangrams and pattern blocks are some common geometric manipulatives that can help students develop spatial sense. Explore and create your own shapes and designs using either of these materials. Then recreate pre-made designs from resource books and materials.

Multicultural Mathematics Connections

Mathematics has connections to many cultures. List ways in which this lesson could have been made multicultural. Then research multicultural connections and plan for ways to bring them into the mathematics classroom through age-appropriate activities.


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