# Identifying and Describing Polygons

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1 2 Identifying and Describing Polygons A Geometry Lesson Overview In this lesson, students learn to identify and describe polygons and compare and contrast them with figures that are not polygons. Prior to the lesson, students are introduced to vocabulary words that they will need to use as they learn about polygons. Students are taught various sentence frames and use the vocabulary introduced to describe everyday objects in the room. During the geometry lesson, students use the vocabulary and the sentence frames to describe and compare and contrast shapes. They sort cards containing illustrations of shapes into two groups, polygons and nonpolygons. Finally, each student draws a picture of a polygon and describes what he knows about polygons in writing. Math Goal: Students will identify and describe the features of polygons and figures that are not polygons. Language Goal: Students will develop the academic language necessary to describe polygons and figures that are not polygons. Key Vocabulary: closed, connect, curved, intersect, line segment, open, polygon, sides, straight, vertex, and vertices Materials 12 word cards for key vocabulary terms 6 sentence strips or pieces of construction paper for sentence frames large two-column chart with drawings of figures that are polygons and figures that are not polygons Identifying and Describing Polygons cards, 1 set of 16 per pair of students (see Blackline Masters) 18

2 envelopes for holding cards, 1 per pair of students 1 set of enlarged Identifying and Describing Polygons cards optional: pocket chart Sentence Frames That Help Students Describe Polygons and Nonpolygons Beginning This is a. It is/has. This is not a. It is/has. Intermediate This is a because. This is not a because. Advanced This shape has,, and. This shape has,, and ; therefore, it is a polygon. Class Profile Of the thirty students in Ms. Handel s class, half are native English speakers, and the other half of the class is made up of beginning, intermediate, and advanced English speakers. From the Identifying and Describing Polygons Classroom Minilesson Introducing Academic Language Christine Sphar greeted the students in Ms. Handel s class and told them that they would be learning about geometry. Identifying and Describing Polygons 19

4 Christine held up a book, illustrating that each side, or line segment, of the book had two end points. Next, she used a yardstick to point out line segments on the ceiling panels, showing students where each line segment began and ended. Then she asked students to find examples of line segments in the room. Before moving on, Christine pointed out to the students that the word segment in English is similar to the word segmento in Spanish. Cognates, or words that sound similar and have the same meaning in two languages, can be helpful to English learners if the students native language is one that shares cognates with English. Christine next introduced the word sides to the students by drawing different geometric figures on the board (e.g., a square and a triangle) and asking how many sides each figure had. As she pointed to the sides on each shape, Christine introduced the words vertex and vertices, pointing to the places on the shapes where the sides or line segments connected. Christine used the familiar word corner in conjunction with the new word vertex to assist the students in their comprehension. Connect and intersect were the next words Christine presented. Once again, she used a strategy called Total Physical Response, asking the students to use both their arms and hands and touch them together to illustrate the word connect. She asked students to cross their arms and hands to show the word intersect. In addition, Christine drew figures on the board and asked students to say whether the sides or line segments connected or intersected. Finally, Christine introduced the words closed and open in the same manner: drawing figures on the board and asking students to say whether each figure was closed or open. If a dog is in a closed shape, like a fenced-in yard, he can t get out, Christine said. But the dog can get out if the shape or figure is Identifying and Describing Polygons 21

5 open. Making connections to real-life situations can help English learners make sense of the new words they are learning. When Christine finished introducing the vocabulary students would need for the upcoming lesson on polygons, the pocket chart at the front of the room was filled with the following word cards, each of which included a small illustration that provided a clue to the word s meaning. These visual clues are important to English learners because they provide support for comprehending vocabulary words. curved straight line segment vertices connect intersect closed open sides vertex Introducing Sentence Frames Learning new vocabulary is not the only language demand that will be placed on students during this lesson. Students will also need to be able to use the vocabulary in complete sentences in English. To help students express their understanding of polygons, Christine introduced several sentence frames intended to support students with varying levels of linguistic competence in English: beginning, intermediate, and advanced. To prepare for this part of the lesson, Christine had sentence frames written on tag board sentence strips. To begin, she placed the first frame in the pocket chart at the front of the room: This is a. It is/has. 22 Supporting English Language Learners in Math Class, Grades 3 5

6 Christine started by having the students read aloud the frame, pausing for the blank spaces. Then she modeled for the students how to use the sentence frame. She purposely incorporated the new vocabulary in the pocket chart as well as familiar objects in the classroom. Pointing to the rim of the clock on the wall, she said, This is a clock. It is curved. Did you notice that I used the vocabulary words in the pocket chart in my sentence? Christine pointed out. She modeled another example, pointing to the vent in the wall. This is a vent. It has four sides. When she was finished with her sentence, she directed the class to repeat it in a choral voice for practice. Christine then gave the students some think time before practicing the sentence frames with a partner. Think time is crucial, in part because producing language is typically more difficult than comprehending it. Students need time to think about how they ll construct their sentences in English. After giving students a few seconds to think, Christine directed them to turn to a partner and practice. Following is an exchange between Abraham, who is an intermediate-level English learner, and Joan, who is at an advanced level. Abraham: This is a table. It is square. Joan: This is a table. It has four sides. Here is an exchange between Steph, who is an intermediate-level English learner, and Gina, who is a beginning English speaker. Steph: Gina: This is a book. It has four sides. This is a calendar. It has four shapes. As partners practiced, Christine circulated around the room, monitoring students. As she listened in, she noticed that some students, like Joan, were using the vocabulary in the pocket chart in their sentences, while other students, such as Abraham, were using correct sentences but not including the new vocabulary. And there were a few students, like Gina, who had the right idea, but used some incorrect words, like shapes when she meant sides. When the students were finished, Christine called them back to attention and asked Ruth to share her sentence. Identifying and Describing Polygons 23

7 This is a rectangle. It has four squares, Ruth said. This is a rectangle. It has four..., Christine repeated, prompting Ruth to use the correct word by pointing to the sides of a rectangle she quickly drew on the board. Ruth caught on, and repeated, This is a rectangle. It has four sides. Ruth used one of the words in the pocket chart, Christine told the class. Cindy went next. She pointed to the globe and said, This is a sphere. It has no sides. Dan, an advanced English speaker, added, This is a rectangle. It is a closed shape. Carmen, a beginning English speaker, said, This is door. There was a long pause. Then she added, It has four... After another long pause, Carmen looked to the pocket chart for help and found the word she was looking for. This is a door. It has four sides, she said. One more example, Christine urged the class. This is a door. It has four angles, Dan said. Next, Christine placed a new sentence frame in the pocket chart, one that was a bit more difficult than the first. As with the first frame, she directed the class to read it together, pausing for the blank spaces: This is a because. How is this frame different than the first? Christine asked the class. What word did I add? It s almost the same, but you added because, Juliana noted. Christine then modeled the new sentence frame by saying, This [pointing to the ceiling panel] is a rectangle because the opposite sides are the same length. Christine gave students some think time before practicing the sentence frame with a partner. Partner talk is essential for English learners because it gives all students a chance to practice their English language skills. Following is an exchange between Amanda, a beginning English speaker who recently immigrated from Mexico, and Julio, an intermediate English speaker. 24 Supporting English Language Learners in Math Class, Grades 3 5

8 Julio: This is a triangle because it has three sides and three angles. Amanda: This is square [long pause; she looks at pocket chart for a sentence frame and decides to use the first one, which is easier]. This is square. It has four sides. Julio: This is an octagon [pointing to a picture of an octagon on a chart in the room] because it has eight sides. After partners had practiced, Christine introduced a third sentence frame. This frame was intended for advanced English speakers, but it could be used by any student in the class. Like the other frames, Christine directed the class to read the frame aloud together: This shape has,, and. She then modeled how to use the frame. OK, I m going to look at the clock, she said, pointing to it. This shape has a curve, no vertices, and it is closed. Christine then held up a piece of paper and asked the students to think about how to describe it using the new frame. She gave students time to think, then called on Abraham. He began, This shape has four sides, connect lines... Abraham paused for a long time before Christine jumped in to give him support. Connecting lines, and..., she prompted. Abraham continued, This shape has four sides, connecting lines, and it s open. I mean it s closed. When Abraham finished his sentence, Christine took a picture frame from Ms. Handel s desk and held it up. What can you say about this shape? she asked the class. Talk with a partner and try to use one of the sentence frames in the pocket chart. As Christine circulated around the room, she noticed that students were using the sentence frames that were most appropriate for their language level. For example, rather than using the most complex frame that was just introduced, Carmen, a beginning English speaker, chose to use an easier sentence frame. This is a rectangle because it has four sides, Carmen said to her partner. Identifying and Describing Polygons 25

10 To give the students a clue, Christine held up the word cards straight and curved from the pocket chart. Straight! the class responded. What do you notice about the figures that are not polygons? Christine asked. The polygons, Amanda began, then she paused and corrected herself, those ones that are not polygons are open. They re open and curved, Cindy said. They are not connected, Diana said. That shape is intersect, Julio said, as he walked up to the board and pointed to this shape: It has intersecting lines, Christine added. She was careful to accept Julio s attempt, yet she also knows that explicitly modeling correct usage can further students English language development. After students had finished making observations about the figures on the chart, Christine added two more sentence frames to the pocket chart: This is not a. It is/has. This is not a because. You can use these two sentence frames to describe shapes that are not polygons, Christine said. Who would like to give us some examples using the sentence frames? Juliana pointed to the same shape that Julio had pointed to on the two-column chart: This is not a polygon. It has intersecting lines, she said. Then, pointing to the same shape, she continued, This is not a polygon because it has intersecting lines. The sentence frames are almost the same, Christine commented. Identifying and Describing Polygons 27

12 Next, Christine drew this shape on the board: What do you think? Christine asked. Thumbs up if it s a polygon and thumbs down if it isn t. When most students had their thumbs up, Christine called on Amy. This is a polygon because it has straight lines and it s closed, Amy said. After Amy finished, Christine drew this figure on the board: This time, Christine waited for about ten seconds before she called on someone to explain why the shape was not a polygon. Using wait time is crucial for English learners because it gives them time to formulate their ideas. The longer Christine waited, the more hands shot up in the air. Finally, she called on Franco, a beginning English speaker. This is not a polygon. It is open, he said, using one of the most basic sentence frames from the pocket chart. Sorting Polygons and Nonpolygons To give students time to identify and describe polygons with a partner, Christine handed out an envelope to each pair of students. Inside each envelope were sixteen cards; on each card there was a figure that was either a polygon or not a polygon. Christine explained to the students that they were to take the cards from the envelope and sort them into two groups polygons and not polygons and talk about why each figure belonged in a chosen group. She encouraged students to use the vocabulary and the sentence frames in the pocket chart to help them in their discussions. Partners immediately got to work, sorting the cards and comparing and contrasting the figures. During a lesson, and especially while students are engaged in partner talk, Christine tries to check in with a variety of students to ask questions that will extend their mathematical thinking and encourage the use of academic language. Identifying and Describing Polygons 29

13 Following is an exchange between Christine and two students: Julio, an intermediate English speaker, and his partner, Maria, a beginning English speaker. The two students were looking at a card with a triangle on it and talking about whether it should go in the polygon group or the other group. Julio: It s a polygon because it is open. Christine: Are you sure? Julio: Oh, because it s closed. Christine: Are you sure? How do you know? Julio: The line segments touch [pointing to the vertices on the triangle]. Christine: What word could we use to say that? Julio: [Looking at the pocket chart] Connect? The line segments connect. Christine: Maria, show me lines that connect using your arms. Maria: [Uses her arms to act out the term connect] Connect. Christine: So is the figure a polygon or not? Maria: Julio: It is a polygon. It is closed. And it has connecting lines. When partners had finished sorting the cards, Christine called them back to attention. In her hand she held a set of cards that were enlarged duplicates of the cards that the students had used for sorting. I m going to hold up one of the cards and I want you to tell me whether the figure on the card is a polygon or not a polygon and explain why, Christine instructed. As she held up one card at a time, the students were given one more opportunity to think about the features of polygons and describe their characteristics using the vocabulary and the sentence frames in the pocket chart. 30 Supporting English Language Learners in Math Class, Grades 3 5

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