Observing Student Communication
 Introduction | Problem: Folded-Square Shapes | Solution: Folded-Square Shapes | Problem Reflection #1 | Problem: Sorting Shapes | Solution: Sorting Shapes | Problem Reflection #2 | Classroom Practice | Observe a Classroom | Your Journal

Think about the student work and reflect on the following questions. After you formulate your answers, select "Show Answer" to compare them with our responses.

 Question: How does the teacher's inclusion of the e-mail writing assignment encourage students to communicate their understanding? Show Answer
 Our Answer: Thinking about writing an e-mail message provides students with both an imaginary audience and a purpose for communicating clearly. It makes the students aware that words rather than pictures or gestures need to be used to communicate, and encourages them to pay attention to the precise use of language. Additionally, asking students to reproduce the shapes from the descriptions of others further induces them to double-check and test the clarity of their own descriptions.
 Question: How does the choice of words help or hinder communication? Without seeing the pictures, was it easy or hard to accurately recreate Kelly's or Benjamin's shapes? Show Answer
 Our Answer: Benjamin's descriptions might make good puzzles, but Kelly's descriptions could be misinterpreted. Names such as "house" are subject to interpretation, according to what the speaker thinks a house shape looks like. Names such as "large pentagon" identify the type of shape but need clarification (Which pentagon is large?). Interestingly, the term "square corner" doesn't hinder communication because it can easily be related to the type of corner that is on a square; however it is more conventional to use the phrase "right angle."
 Question: How might this activity help students clarify their understanding of such words as "pentagon," "hexagon," and "symmetric"? In other words, what might Kelly learn from working with Benjamin? Show Answer
 Our Answer: Kelly may learn from Benjamin's drawing and statements that "pentagon" means a five-sided, two-dimensional figure and that a pentagon doesn't have to have equal angles and equal side lengths. Drawing the figures helps the students pay attention to the number of sides and the size of the angles in the figures, but it doesn't help them learn new vocabulary, such as "obtuse angle." Through Benjamin's modeling of more precise communication, Kelly sees examples of how precise language can be utilized to better describe figures.
 Question: Did you gather any assessment information from students that could be used to develop follow-up instruction? Did you observe any possible misconceptions? Show Answer
 Our Answer: Each student displayed appropriate use of several geometry terms, indicating that they understand attributes of at least basic shapes, such as triangles and squares. Kelly might not know such words as "pentagon," or she might think that pentagons always have five equal sides. Also, she might not know the difference between outside-edge lines and interior-fold lines in terms of counting the number of edges on a figure. In fact, she never really talked about the sides or the angles. Benjamin correctly described many important attributes of the shapes. The teacher may want to follow up by seeing if Benjamin can create a desired shape from just a description and whether he can communicate about finding all possible figures.

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