In today’s post, I want to give you some tips and tricks to help you when teaching geometric constructions.

Safety First

When working with geometric constructions, you have a lot of students handling sharp instruments. The first thing I like to do is go over the safety instructions. I start by assessing the students’ fine motor skills. There are a couple of ways you can do that.

Drawing Circles

First, have the students draw circles on blank paper. I like to have plenty of paper available for this. I use recycled paper that I pull from Xeroxes that weren’t able to be used. As I walk around the room, I am often surprised at which students have trouble drawing a simple circle using the compass.

I want them to be able to move their compass and continue to draw intersecting circles. If they can do this well, they will end up with 6 circles that all intersect and that meet back up where they began. If they are able to do this easily, I know their fine motor skills are developed.

Assign Partners

I know it is exhausting to continue to make the rounds of the classroom trying to give constant feedback to each student. Assigning partners allows the students to give feedback to each other as they work through the assignments.

I used to go home so tired when I first began introducing constructions from trying to answer all the questions. Once I began incorporating partners, or even group work, I started noticing a couple of things.

First, one student might be great at drawing the circles while the other had trouble. The student who was great at it could help the one who wasn’t which saved my voice and my energy.

Secondly, the students learned the vocabulary more quickly when I partnered them up. Instead of saying “ruler”, they were using “straight edge.” Words like circumference, diameter, radius, bisector became more familiar to them as they used them to help each other.

Prepare for Accidents

It is important for you to look around your classroom and spot things that could be problematic. Are the desks too close together for safety? Are the kids pressing too hard and scratching the desks?

I once taught constructions in an old science lab classroom, so the kids were standing. It was an ideal set-up because the kids had more room to work. I wasn’t worried about them scratching the desks with the sharp instruments and they had the ability to lean forward or to the side as they were working.

If you don’t have a space with standing desks, there are a couple of other ways to accomplish this. First, you could spread the desks further apart to give the students more room to work.

Secondly, you could ask your custodian for cardboard to cover the desks to avoid scratching them. The backs of old notebooks work too.

I always remind you to tell your students things that build their confidence, so be sure to tell them that mistakes will be made as they learn this concept and it is okay.

Online Tools

There are many tools online to help with the teaching of geometric constructions. I have gone through a ton of them; some are really good and some are not. But there are a few that I think are outstanding and I want to share those with you.

  •  You can have your students go through this tutorial to learn how to do constructions online. This is my favorite one for teaching that.
  • This is the link I give to students when I give them constructions to do on paper as homework. This website has the constructions directions written out in a step-by-step manner so they can move along one step at a time. It can also run on a loot for your classroom.
  • If your students just need to be talked through the construction process again, there are plenty of online helps for that on Youtube. However, I know that Youtube is blocked in many schools, so this one from Khan Academy is very organized and helpful. This link is to the page that contains all of their videos on this topic.

I hope all of this helps you to teach constructions this year and greatly lowers your and your students’ frustrations. As always, please tell me in the comments how I can be of help to you!