Monday, December 29, 2014

Get Out The Scissors and Glue - It's Cut and Paste Time!




There are so many skills that we strive to master as children from writing, coloring and of course using scissors. As we move through school cut and paste activities are highlighted and incorporated often because they achieve so many goals and can be used so many ways. Some of these uses can be to match two related things (i.e. the number one with the word one) or to combine various parts of things to make a whole (i.e. the parts of a snowman or a turkey). Doing such things really help students to "see" the connections.

As we move up through the school years, however, this method of teaching and enrichment really starts to fall by the wayside. We get so busy trying to prepare students for the next grade, the next test or for college that we forget that we can use other techniques besides just "stand and deliver", homework, tests and quizzes. Additionally, at the secondary level these methods are not usually highlighted, taught or to be honest, encouraged. As my years as a teacher have gone on and my students have changed so much, however, I have started to seek out new methods to make connections and help students to see how the math topics we discuss interact with each other.

Congruent Triangles
The first time I did a cut-and-paste activity I was sure that it was doomed to failure. I mean, these are high school students after all, and cutting and pasting is
an elementary task. But everything else I had tried to get my students to see the methods of proving triangles congruent were not working so I needed to try something else. I laid in bed that night brainstorming (that is, after all, where teachers do their best thinking!) and racking my brain about what I could do. I came up with a task where my students were given a set of triangles that were marked with one (or more) method(s) of proving triangles congruent and they had to sort them. I decided to go beyond sorting on a piece of paper, however, and made them actually cut them out and paste them into their categories. The students LOVED it and more FINALLY got the methods and what they look like! I was floored that something so "elementary" worked so well! 



Algebraic Proofs
Similar Triangles
I went on the create similar activities on proving triangles similar that not only had students cutting, pasting and identifying the similarity methods but also had them practicing the angle sum theorem and setting-up and solving proportions.  As we started a unit on logic and proof I devised a way to make algebraic proofs a little more interesting and again help to engage them As need arises, I'll create them on other topics as well - which is currently segment and angle addition proofs!





Domain and Range


It was with little surprise to myself then, that when my Algebra students started struggling with domain and range that I turned to my favorite website to find some resources to help them and I found the best cut-and-paste activity on domain and range. It gives students graphs, mappings and tables and asks them cut out the domain-and-range cards and paste them on to the corresponding graph/table/mapping cards!  The activity came as a part of bundle made by ScaffoldedMathandScience. It was amazing how many students not only finally "got it" but the great conversations and collaboration that occurred.


I have since picked up cut-and-paste activities by the fantastic Lindsay Perro including some on Writing Equations and Point-Slope/Slope-Intercept forms. I have also picked some up by the amazing activities from All Things Algebra on Linear Inequalities and 4 The Love Of Math on Order of Operations.  I shopped at MissMathDork  for help on Translating and Matching One - Step Equations and Factoring when a > 1.

 I love cut-and-paste activities and have many more on my wish list for future visits. I encourage you to reconsider using some traditionally elementary techniques in your secondary math classroom. You might just be surprised at the results! What are your favorite "elementary techniques" that you adapted to the secondary level?

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