by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

For many schools, it seems as if Geometry and Measurement standards remain some of the lowest scored. This has always puzzled me because it’s the one area in math that is (or should be) the most hands-on — which is appealing and more motivating to students. Who doesn’t like creating with pattern blocks, making 2 and 3D shapes with various objects, using measurement tools, and getting the chance to leave your seat to explore all the classroom has to offer regarding these standards? So what is it about geometry and measurement that is stumping our students? Here are some of my thoughts – please feel free to comment and add your own:

- Vocabulary? (segment, parallel, trapezoid, perpendicular, volume, area, perimeter, etc.)
- Lack of practical experience? Not all homes have materials or provide opportunities for students to apply their knowledge (like blocks, Legos, measuring cups for cooking, tape measures for building, etc.).
- Background knowledge about the size of actual objects? We take it for granted students know a giraffe is taller than a pickup truck. But if students have not had the chance to go to a zoo, then when they are presented a picture of the two objects they might not really know which is taller / shorter. Think of all of the examples of how we also expect students to know the relative weights of objects. Without background knowledge or experience, this could impede them regarding picture type assessments.
- Standards keep getting pushed to lower grades when students may not have reached the conservation stage? If they think a tall slender container must hold more than a shorter container with a larger diameter, or they think a sphere of clay is less than the same size sphere flattened out, they may have difficulty with many of the geometry and measurement standards.

In this post, I will focus on Geometry. Here is a basic look at the **geometry continuum** (based on OK Stds.):

**KG:** Recognize and sort basic 2D shapes (circle, square, rectangle, triangle). This includes composing larger shapes using smaller shapes (with an outline available).

**1st:** Recognize, compose, and decompose 2D and 3D shapes. The new 2D shapes are hexagon and trapezoid. 3D shapes include cube, cone, cylinder, sphere.

**2nd:** Analyze attributes of 2D figures. Compose 2D shapes using triangles, squares, hexagons, trapezoids and rhombi. Recognize right angles and those larger or smaller than right angles.

**3rd:** Sort 3D shapes based on attributes. Build 3D figures using cubes. Classify angles: acute, right, obtuse, straight.

**4th:** Name, describe, classify and construct polygons and 3D figures. New vocabulary includes points, lines, segments, rays, parallel, perpendicular, quadrilateral, parallelogram, and kite.

**5th:** Describe, classify, and draw representations of 2D and 3D figures. Vocabulary includes edge, face, and vertices. Specific triangles include equilateral, right, scalene, and isosceles.

Here are a couple of guides that might help you with definitions of the various 2D shapes. The 2D shapes guide is provided FREE here in a PDF courtesy of math-salamander.com. I included a b/w version along with my colored version. The Quadrilateral flow chart I created will help you see that some shapes can have more than one name. Click on the link for a free copy (b/w and color) of the flow chart. Read below for more details about understanding the flow chart.

**PLEASE note these very important concepts:** Continue reading →