This activity was designed to give grade 9 students another look at the Pythagorean Theorem — something that would be a little tactile, and a little collaborative with a friend. I cannot remember where I found the “Olaf” ‘maze’, but anything like it will suffice as a ‘minds on’/motivator/hook.

First, the maze is used a ‘bell work’ (the work done when students walk into class before the bell and I want them to begin transitioning into ‘math class’ thinking — bell work also allows me to take attendance, late students come in without disruption, etc. — because bell work goes until 3 to 10 minutes into the class (depending upon the bell work activity and how much it concretely segues into the day’s learning). My story is about the parrot — once the parrot finds the treasure, how does it fly back to Olaf? “Straight as a crow flies” which makes a right triangle with the map…I wonder how I can measure that distance? Then we go into the activity, because they see the pythagorean theorem opportunity on the page (whether they can name it or not is immaterial at this point).

The activity has a number of features I have found helpful for me pedagogically.
— the check boxes help students follow steps in order
— the check boxes help me see where they are as I walk by
— numbers in the front side, algebra on the back side
— #5 allows me to have a quick confirmatory conversation about conservation of area, what did they notice, I then sign their page (another AfL feature to keep track of what is going on during their learning)
— check boxes and #5 initials give student-centred pacing to the task
— #11 is the title, at the end –> if some have not remembered the title, they often don’t worry as much if it is just an activity, versus, telling them the title right up front and they get ‘learners block’ because “I never could DO this formula!”
— page A and page B so they can tape the pieces from one page onto the other and add it to their notebook (binder, tape, glue etc.) and a manipulative becomes part of their class notes.
— selected work from a text for those students who finish faster than others.
— boxes to write in, blanks/lines to complete, symbols to circle: all different text features to change up the way the page looks and the students’ interaction with text in a math class.

Pythagorean Theorem activity
http://pythagorean theorem activity that includes cutting paper

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Jamie Pyper

Jamie Pyper

mathematics educator and researcher | mathematics teacher (OCT) | and craft beer enthusiast! | he/him | #MSTE Coordinator, #PBLmathEd #CMESG #NCTM | @314_per
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