Letting them be kids with the Pythagorean Theorem

My slightly modified version of this Teaching Channel lesson on the Pythagorean Theorem started a bit slow but within 10 minutes it gained incredible momentum. By the end of the lesson students were set free to search the hallway for problems and gather anagram clues to solve a Who Done It.

Kids were in partners staring at this image from the SMARTboard file I created for the lesson. The rulers followed the directions on the left. The non-rulers followed the directions on the right.

pythag instructions

At first the kids didn’t want to play with the numbers. I wasn’t about to lose at this waiting game so I announced, “Let’s push the pencil and those calculator keys.” One pair began working, then another, then another. Soon the entire class was engaged.

A few minutes went by and one boy asked, “Can the numbers be used more than once?”

“Great question! Yes!”

We had a great discussion on the operations needed to get 10. Not one mention of a formula.

I then asked, “How could we apply what we just learned to golf. How far would I need to hit my tee shot if I wanted to get a hole in one?”

dogleg left

It’s at this point where I tweaked the lesson to my personality. Sidebar: I love the Muppets!

pythag kermit

what's different

Here is where the knowing the vocab came in handy. After pointing out the legs and hypotenuse, students then realized they would need to do something different to solve Question 3.

They practiced solving these:

right angle problems

Then it was time to set them free. The students got this handout.

pythag worksheet

The first two problems were done in class, but the other three created a mini scavenger hunt in the hallway. After correctly solving problems #3-5, each pair received a Who Done It clue. In the Teaching Channel lesson students received their clues in a text message. I chose human interaction because I prefer it.

Here are the anagram clues.

clues
Mustard, kitchen, dagger.

The lesson continued the next day exploring right, acute and obtuse triangles using perfect square cutouts from AIMS Education.

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2 thoughts on “Letting them be kids with the Pythagorean Theorem

  1. I just found your blog thanks to Dan Meyer’s blog. I teach 8th grade math and have copied the same lesson from The Teaching Channel on Pythagorean theorem. It is my favorite lesson I teach all year! This year I brought our i-pad lab to the classroom and had the kids use MyScript Calculator. That way they were dying to do the calculations!! They were literally beggin me for more problems!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Next year both 7th and 8th grade students in our building will be issued iPads. I’m not familiar MyScript but I’ll check it out soon. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

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