When was the last time you used a protractor? Drawn a circle? Measured an angle? We spent time earlier this week doing all of those things in my classroom. There’s nothing like a new tool to pique students interest…and the protractor did just that. Students were fascinated that protractors also have rulers on them, they couldn’t wait to experiment with them!
We used those protractors to draw a half circle on the fold and then open the full 360 degrees of circle. Each student then had to measure an angle–one randomly assigned–and cut that angle out of the circle. The cut out angle became the mouth of an “angle fish,” the piece removed became the caudal fin. Some designing soon resulted in a whole school of individual angle fish!
Why bother with angles and protractors? Simply for a cute crafts project? You probably know me better than that. My students are just beginning to pay attention to angles, to recognize those perfect square corners that measure 90 degree. To understand that triangles exist that are not perfectly equilateral, with equal angles as well. They are starting to understand that attributes can categorize without diminishing the diversity of possibilities within those categories.
I hope geometry lessons can teach ideas that transfer far beyond polygons, sides, and angles. I want my students to recognize that each of us brings our experiences, genetics, family backgrounds, and opinions to who we are. That they will learn to see diversity and difference as opportunities to enrich their own experiences, to add value to our world, to push beyond their own status quo. That they will step outside the comfort zone of sameness, and consider the view from another perspective.
I’m pretty sure my students understand the categories of acute, right, and obtuse angles…the rest will continue to be a work in progress. After all, I’m still working out my angles too.