The more sides you have, the smarter you are.

“How does shape affect your place in society?”
“The more sides you have, the greater your angles. So, the smarter you are.”

Two years ago, I created a lesson on Angles in a Polygon. The ‘hook’ was the opening minutes of the animated film Flatland: The Movie. In the story, Arthur Square asks his curious granddaughter if she has memorized her ‘laws of inheritance’.

Hex replies “Isosceles triangles have baby equilateral triangles. Equilateral triangles have baby squares. Squares have pentagons. Pentagons have hexagons, like me! And each new generation gets one new side until they get so many sides they look like a circle and become a priest.”

This film interestingly addresses many mathematical concepts, such as points, lines, and shapes in zero, one, and two dimensions as well as larger themes such as critical thinking.

Here it is:

I think it’s a pretty good lesson, but I decided to tinker with it. Here’s the new and improved version:

Yep. That’s it. Blank space.

I learned that from Sandra Ball when planning together for elementary school demonstration or team-teaching lessons. Just one of the many things I have learned from Sandra since joining the team a year ago.

The first activity is overly scaffolded. In the second version of the activity, the scaffolding is removed. Students will ask “How can I solve the problem?” versus “How does Mr. Hunter want me to solve the problem?”. Some students may need scaffolding, but I can better support these students by listening to and observing them. In the first assignment, I assumed all students would need scaffolding. And, really, if my students can’t think of using a table to organize information, what does that say about how numeracy is taught in my classroom?

Here are the documents as well as the three-part lesson plan:

Flatland Assignment
Flatland Assignment 2.0
Flatland Three-Part Lesson Plan

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3 thoughts on “The more sides you have, the smarter you are.

  1. Pingback: Northwest Mathematics Conference 2012 | Reflections in the Why

  2. Pingback: Table Talk | Reflections in the Why

  3. This is really interesting. I found this blog while searching for Flatland-themed activities and I’m genuinely surprised by everything I’ve read here. Thank you for your work. I’ll be reading it regularly now!

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