On day 2, we came back to this same paper, only this time I asked for polygons since we already exhausted all of the angles. This is where it got interesting. I had a student in both classes come up and highlight a few polygons. Both classes pretty much gave me the same list: rectangle, triangle, trapezoid, parallelogram, rhombus, pentagon. I asked where they wanted to start. My second block class voted for the trapezoid; we dove in. I showed them a trapezoid in comparison to an isosceles trapezoid and they commented on what they thought were the differences. We talked about consecutive angles between the bases and related it to corresponding angles. There wasn't a single aspect of trapezoids that we didn't discuss. For the most part, they were able to toss out the ideas and then we explored them; I did very little nudging. We ended the day talking about the reflection symmetry of an isosceles trapezoid, and the relationship to the perpendicular bisector of the bases. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Then block three came, and oh boy it just got better. Same routine as above, however, they wanted to start with pentagons instead. Game on. The student that highlighted the pentagon was unsure if it really was one because it wasn't regular (only he didn't say regular). Discussion started, we came to a consensus that it doesn't have to be regular to be a pentagon. Great. So I drew a regular pentagon on the board and said, "What's the measure of each of these angles?" *confused/thoughtful looks/blank stares* "Ok, how many degrees are in a pentagon?" 360? 540? 720? Awesome, these students have an idea of where I'm going with this. I drew a triangle. "180 degrees!" someone said. I added a triangle to it and showed them the quadrilateral formed. "360 degrees.?" someone hesitated. So far so good. I add another triangle to form the pentagon. The pattern? "540 degrees!" confidence building. I kept going: another triangle, six sides, 720, another triangle, seven sides, 900, another triangle, eight sides, 1080. What's the pattern? "Oh, I get it!" "How many degrees in a polygon with 100 sides?" "You would take 98 times 180." "Why 98?" "Because the number of triangles is always two less than the number of sides."
So, yeah, I'm excited about this whole freedom of curriculum concept so far. After my third block class, I realized its going to get tough to keep track of what I taught from day to day. I guess its time I figure out some kind of organization skills past post-it notes.
The students seem to be with me too. Everyone was listening, involved, engaged. Questions were being asked both by me and them, and answers were the same. We're both learning, and I don't think it gets much better than that.
Here's the kicker: I only have this plan 'planned' for these first two units on quadrilaterals and triangles. After that, I'm still trying to figure out how to get it to work. My next units are area/perimeter, surface area/volume, similarity, reflections, proofs, and circles. Theoretically, it would be easy to mix and match units and make all kinds of connections, however, that would almost require me to planned for the ENTIRE SEMESTER since I'll never know what's going to come up in class. Maybe in the spring? Ugh... that'll be tough. We shall see.