## Wednesday, September 23, 2015

### Introducing a New Language

The first few days of my Geometry are usually my LEAST favorite.  I understand the need to get some basic vocabulary work down, but I just hate it and have been working for years to try to make it go faster and stick harder.

I began with Dan Meyer's Pick a Point.  They loved it and had a good laugh.

My students are frequently Special Ed. students who have issues with notetaking and too much reading.  I have been using Interactive Notebooks with them, which has helped a lot.  This year I did the INB part a little differently.

We started out with a  vocabulary sheet template and this sheet of definitions.  They cut the strips of definitions and match with vocabulary word.  Same with template for angle words and their definitions.  For some of these I drew in pictures in the appropriate slots, and for some I put in the appropriate symbols.  I did not make the pictures / symbols match the definitions they were next to, so they had a lot of cutting and matching.  Then they had to try to fill in the blanks with their partners.

Then I wrote the Chinese character for "man" on the board:

"Any one here know Chinese?  Their language is made of characters, referred to as ideograms.  This means they help you see the "idea" of the word.  Generally they came from pictographs.  This is what the word for man used to look like: "

"Can you see the man?  Look at these:  Let's see if we can figure out what they mean.  Old character is first (more of a picture), then the modern version:"

These mean tree.

Try these:
These mean mountain!

Finally I told them we were learning a new language we are calling "Geometrese".  It uses "ideograms" as well.  I put this up on the board:

"What does this symbol mean?"
"Parallel!"
"Yup!  I wonder why?"
"Because it shows 2 lines that won't intersect!"  "Because it has a pair of l's !!"(that is L's not ones)

"All great thoughts, but I am wondering why not like this?"
"Because that is an equal sign and it would be too confusing!"

Then we looked at the symbol for perpendicular and tried to decide why they used that.  What was the "idea" in the ideogram.

And finally we looked at the congruent symbol and noticed and wondered about the equal sign that is part of that symbol.  They even asked about the squiggle on top: didn't that mean something?  We got to talk about the different ways the tilde is used in Geometry as opposed to Spanish.

When we were done, one young man looked up and said: "That was the best introduction to a lesson I have ever heard."

God bless him.  As teachers, we get lots of negative feedback ("This is stoooopid!").  We even get lots of neutral feedback (they appear engaged, not drooling).  But we don't always get feedback that tells us we nailed it.

#### 1 comment:

1. Thanks to Meg Craig, I got to read this fabulous post. Way to go!