Most of us naturally tend to think to teach Geometry math units at the end of the school year. Most commercial math curricula leave it for last. Even the Common Core Math Standards put Geometry at the end of the list. It makes sense to our teacher brains- leave the more ‘fun’ math stuff for May or June when everyone is burned out. We know we’ll only have energy left for teaching shapes at that point, amiright?
But what if we flip that logic all the way across its line of symmetry (see what I did there??) and instead teach geometry at the START of the school year? What if we open our math curricula with shapes and symmetry and arrays and grids? How and why might that work better? I have some thoughts:
-First of all, Geometry is a quick math unit to teach. It’s just a good mental win to feel like you have one of the 4 or 5 math strands ‘done’ by the end of the first month of school or so. Teaching is hugely overwhelming, and it makes sense to teach Geometry first and check off that box. (I know, math doesn’t work like that, but you know what I mean!)
-Geometry relies more on verbal and spatial skills and less on arithmatic and numbers. Kids who believe they are ‘bad at math’ might balk at addition or place value or fractions, but geometry might seem like a more friendly topic for them. Teaching geometry first gives kids who ‘aren’t good at math’ a chance to gain some early confidence. Then, they can carry that confidence on to other math units and go in with better self esteem and a better attitude.
-You’ll have some feedback/ grades/ data early on. It’s early in the year and you don’t really know these kids yet. Teaching geometry first can give you some quick insight into how they think and learn and problem solve. It can help you see which kids are more visual, which are more verbal, and which rely more on numbers. Plus, you know that parents and administrators are going to want data sooner rather than later, right?
Psssst… If you need a way to track all of that feedback and data, try these Standards Checklists. The standards are all broken down for you, to make it easier to track students’ progress and figure out what to teach next.
-Here’s a reason you might not have thought of: Geometry lends itself easily to review activities and lessons (like these free Geometry Zombies or these Halloween Coordinate Grids). So once you teach that content early on, it opens up the door for fun math reviews. Need quick sub plans or a seasonal activity to keep your kiddos occupied? Now you can pull out a fun geometry activity! Your students will be engaged, while you feel confident that they are reviewing and praciticing important, standards-based content. (No craft-tivities here!)
-Teaching geometry early on in the school year naturally creates lots of art to quickly decorate those bare walls. I don’t know about you, but I always struggled with what to put up on the bulletin board. Geometry math units provide plenty of student work and anchor charts that teach and look good. Problem solved!
-The Common Core Geometry standards are pretty repetitive. Students will work on classifying in one grade, then build on that in the next. They’ll learn partitioning in halves in one year, then expand that to quarters, thirds, and other fractions. It makes sense to start the school year with a bit of a review, and teaching geometry first ensures that students will be at least a little bit familiar with some of the content.
-The geometry standards are also super important. Classifying, naming attributes, partitioning, composing & decomposing are all extremely important skills in math and in life. Teaching these first gives your students a strong foundation for the rest of the units in your math curriculum.
-Geometry lays foundation for fractions, area concepts, and multiplication, among other things. Partitioning rectangles helps students understand fractions and area. Counting rows and columns helps students develope basic multiplication concepts. These are important conceptual understandings that students will be able to draw and build on when you get to other units. Do your future teacher self a favor and help your kiddos build those foundations at the beginning of the school year.
-It’s a FUN unit!! Exploring and playing around with shapes and symmetry and all of that is fun. Starting the school year off with a more fun unit can help your students get excited about math. Hopefully, that excitemnent will carry on through the rest of the school year!
What do you think? When in the school year do you teach geometry? Have you considered changing it up?
Pssst… Need Geometry Units to help you get started? I’ve got you covered!!