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Achieving the UDL: Arts, Technology & Geometry

From Kindergarten through Grade 6, a Common Core focus is for students to master 2-Dimensional shapes.  During grades 1-3, this is supported by students honing in on reasoning with shapes and their attributes.  Below are some suggestions to build this understanding for your students with the UDL in mind.

These arts and technology based activities could be used for your multiple means of engagement, representation, or expression, depending on where/how they are used throughout a unit. Many can be used as whole-class activities, continued small-group practice, or even for assessment purposes following a sequence of lessons. These fit the Universal Design for Learning nicely when considering geometry goals because there are multiple ways for learners to absorb and process information as well as convey their understanding. HOW students explore the concepts to be mastered is the key- not just giving them the WHAT.

Movement: Use Chinese Jump Ropes for students to form a variety of shapes in groups.

    • Using ankles or wrists for vertices, students will experience how line segments are joined by vertices to build shapes. They will also discover how difficult it is to “construct” equal sides, angles, or regular polygons.  At times, student will be challenged to communicate within the group, using geometry vocabulary, to achieve a figure.

Technology: While I will highlight my favorites below, click here to explore my entire Live Binder of Geometry Interactives.

      • Scroll through these interactives to find sorts and games for Polygons, Triangles and mixed shapes.
      • Interactive Quadrilaterals: Manipulate, Compare, Contrast, and Reason with these 4-sided figures.  The word bank shows the relationships and words are clickable.
      • While many of these activities do require reading, with reading support, students can access many quick, simple games to practice geometric attributes at Manga HighThis one would be great for an Interactive whiteboard for whole class instruction or for individual practice with polygons and regular polygons
      • BBC Bitesize has some of best videos, tutorials and games! I love this one for practicing 2-D shapes, and there are more on this page as well.
      • The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is full of tools for computer or interactive whiteboard use.  Engage students with instruction using the interactive whiteboard or have students practice at laptops/desktops.

Visual Art: Students create geometric artwork unknowingly by filling a page with intersecting lines!

    • On 12×18 paper, students use a straightedge and crayons to construct no more than 10 line segments (more than 10 makes shapes too small) that reach from one edge of the paper to any other.
    • Next students paint over the entire sheet with watercolors and watch as the crayon resists the paint.
    • As it dries, students work with a partner to share observations of their artwork so far.  Post a list of vocabulary with examples for students to have a visual reminder as they describe the many attributes of their artwork.
    • Throughout the unit, return to this artwork and have students look for and label a variety of figures, quadrilaterals, angles and lines as they are learned.

Musical, Rhythmic & Movement: Students chant with the “Angle Orchestra”!

I wish I had a video of this.  When my students do it in a few weeks I will be sure to add one! The audio link should give you a general idea if my descriptions do not help!  Click to hear examples for the Angle Symphony.

  • Create a full musical 4/4 measure with the “full turn” group.  Students use arms as clock hands and begin them sticking straight up at 12. One arm travels around the clock and back to meet the other arm.
      • Chant: full…..turn… (2 beats per word)
      • Create the sounds and clock-arm movements for each angle with the class as they chant. I will share what I have done, but sometimes it makes more sense to create them together.
        • Right Angle: Using a strong, sharp voice, this group marches to create a strong 4/4 beat. (one word on each beat- “right angle, right angle”….) Arms remain in a right angle or can switch around to different positions of right angles.
        • Obtuse: Use a deep, low, loud voice over 3 beats, resting on beat 4. (Ahhhb tuse, 4, Ahhhb tuse, 4).  Arm rotates from 12:00 to more than 90 but less than 180.
        • Acute: Use a high, squeaky voice on the first beat (down beat).
        • Straight: Using “regular” voices (or whatever they come up with!) students chant STRAIGHT on beats 1 and 4.  (Straight, 2, 3, Straight, Straight, 2, 3…Straight..) Create a straight angle with arms at any position. (12 to 6, 9 to 3 etc.)
        • Reflex: I have yet to have found the best voice, movement, or beat(s) for this one.  Perhaps my class this year will create it! Let us know in the comments if you find a good way to add this one!

Visual Art AND Technology (my favorite combo)

  • Provide students with printed photos of cities, farms or other scenes with opportunity for geometric construction. (Just Google Image search this)
    • Using a silver paint marker or a Sharpie, students trace over angles and lines they identify within the photo.
    • Students should describe what they see in writing or speaking.  I would recommend that students work together to create accurate “narrations” for the photos, record their explanations using a tool like SoundCloud , and then creating a QR code to print and attach to displayed photos. This way, anyone with a QR code scanner on their phone/iPad can view the photo and listen to the explanation.
    • Even better…students could upload these types of photos into VoiceThread and record explanations.  Classmates can join in the conversation to critique the mathematical reasoning, a strong theme in the math CCSS.
  • For an assessment, students could also upload these pictures to an iPad screencasting tool such as Educreations and would record their explanations and submit to the teacher.

As I listed these activities, more started to appear in my head, but I am cutting myself off for now! Remember that with any of these activities- if you want success in the independent practice or assessment phases, activities must always be modeled, modeled, modeled and expectations clear with a simple rubric.

Let me know if you try any and please comment to share your own ideas!

Related Posts

The Universal Design for Learning…Has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

Common Core: It’s not the WHAT- It’s the HOW.


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