Friday, 2 March 2012

Original lesson 12: Skateboarding through a Lesson on Perpendicular and Parallel Lines

To teach perpendicular and parallel lines, I first started from the more simple, fundamental concepts of horizontal, vertical and sloped lines. I drew up a table of these the on the whiteboard and we wrote down examples from the world around us, eg under horizontal there was the table, ceiling, floor, etc.

I then took the class outside to our 'break out' area and we formed a circle. In the centre of the circle, I placed down two skateboards. I asked if anyone could make perpendicular lines out of the skateboards, allowed a few students to do so and then explained that perpendicular means that two skateboarders have crashed, so long as one was travelling on a horizontal line and one on a vertical.

ALL the children understood this and volunteered to move the skateboards around in other examples of perpendicular angles. Best of all, there was absolute silence because everyone was SO ENGAGED by being allowed to step onto the skateboards and move them around.

I did the same for parallel, explaining that it means you are travelling in the same direction as your friend. The boards have to be facing exactly the same direction, I explained, otherwise one of you will end up at the ice-cream shop and one at the candy shop if they are slightly apart or slightly facing one another.

Then, I threw up a challenge for volunteers to stump the circle by placing the boards in any configuration and asking us to figure out whether it was perpendicular, parallel or neither. One child placed the boards in a parallel direction but one a bit behind the other. We debated this. Another child placed one board on top of the other. Again, AN ENGAGING DEBATE!

When we went inside and worked in the exercise books classifying actual lines, most children finished so quickly that I had to write up more advanced lines on the board (ones that even challenged me conceptually).

All in all, this worked as a fantastic way to teach what would have otherwise been quite an abstract and meaningless concept.

Stay tuned for part two: angles using skateboards, rulers and string.

How do you use your students' interest to create engaging lessons in your classroom?


Anonymous said...

Hey Anna,
That is fantastic! I wish I had thought of that because my students always seem to struggle with angles when I jump straight to using the protractor on lines in exercise books. I don't own skateboards but I'm going to use my skis instead.

Anna Kapnoullas said...

Hi Tom,
Thanks so much and that's great, skis and/or a snowboard would work just as well.