This semester, we have spent a great deal of time talking about methods to teach geometry. We mainly worked with two-dimensional shapes and it has made me think of more effective ways to teach three-dimensional shapes. In my own elementary experience, I remember being handed various objects and associating them with the shapes I had known all along: square, rectangle, triangle, etc. I find it very interesting that when we search around the classroom for examples of shapes, we often refer to them as if they are two-dimensional. I recall looking at objects like a basketball and concluding that it is a circle. As a class we talked about situations where teachers only present shapes such as triangles in one format and becoming unrecognizable when it is rotated. So, why does it seem common to call three-dimensional objects the names of two-dimensional shapes?
I found two particularly interesting activities on Nrich.maths.org. One provides students with an opportunity to observe properties of different 3D shapes. Students are given various blocks and after the chance to play and observe, they can be asked questions like, which of these towers will collapse?
I predict that it would be great as a teacher to witness how students come to conclusions about each shape. I also think that it would be worthwhile to come together as a class to share characteristics that they noticed. I have noticed in my classroom experience so far that 3D shapes almost seem overlooked. Three-dimensional shapes can be incorporated into measurement so that students can determine the differences between 2D and 3D. Volume and surface area are vastly different calculations that area and perimeter. I believe that it is important for lower elementary teachers to set students up for success by providing with more experiences with three-dimensional shapes.
The second activity that I found on Nrich related two-dimensional and three-dimensional object by using shadows. Students are presented with a square, circle, triangle, and rectangle. They are asked what objects on a playground would form that shadow.
I find the relationship between two-dimension and three-dimension fairly interesting. I would consider myself a visual learner and making connections to tangible objects is important to my ability to learn math. I believe that more time spent working with three-dimensional objects would give students a better understanding of volume vs. area.