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Working Smart

September 21, 2011

I had a great class today on geometry and I would like to say it was all on purpose but it wasn’t. The students made it a great class by one simple question. I am sure that every teacher out there has encountered this question or some form of it. It is not a tough question to ask but it can be a tough one to answer. I know the curriculum is full and there are lots of outcomes to cover but taking the time to answer this question, at least sometimes, can more than make up for time later. Can you really pass up the time to develop thinking skills?

By now I am sure you are wondering what this question is … quite simply the question that the student asked was … “what happens if …?”

In the context of today’s lesson we were looking at geometric constructions of parallel and perpendicular lines with a compass and straight edge.

We have been working on this for a few days and the students are pretty good at it. I have modeled the constructions on the SmartBoard and often ask students to come up and perform the constructions.

Today one of the students asked “what happens if the lines are not horizontal?” It had not even dawned on me that all of the constructions they had done were all horizontal. I decided that I would ask a few students to help me figure out what happens if the lines are not horizontal and the implications on the constructions.

While some students worked on an assignment due next week some of the students who were further along explored this on the SmartBoard. The advantage of this was that I could pause those working on their assignment to see the implications of doing constructions when the lines are not horizontal.

So what was the key thing I learned today … using the SmartBoard as a digital recorder to explore the “what happens if” questions is definitely a way to work Smart.

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