To introduce this excursion, distribute the Rectangle versus Parallelogram activity sheet to each member of the class.
Ask students to carefully examine the two shapes on the handout
and brainstorm their similarities and differences. Elicit oral
responses about the attributes unique to both the rectangle and
parallelogram. While the class-wide discussion is occurring, students
should record the information in the corresponding boxes on the
After the students have recorded the similarities and differences
brainstormed by the entire class, divide them into pairs or teams of
three. They should work together to categorize the attributes listed on
the activity handout into groups. For example: can they categorize or
group the shapes’ attributes according to length of sides, number of
sides, number of angles, measure of angles, etc?
Once the teams have categorized the information, distribute the Things are Shaping Up activity sheet to each student.
Explain that the students will manipulate the dynamic rectangles
and parallelograms in the interactive applet by dragging the corners
(vertices) and sides (edges). They should look at the shapes on the
handout and mentally manipulate them before trying the activity online.
In small groups, they should share their ideas surrounding this mental
Pose the following questions to students:
- Do you think it will be possible to transform the shape?
- Will the rectangle retain its attributes?
- Will the parallelogram retain its attributes?
Once they have had the opportunity to think about the manipulation,
students will go to the Web site and use the applet to recreate the
shapes listed on the Things are Shaping Up Activity Sheet.
As the students successfully re-create each shape, they should
record a brief description describing the process they used to attain
the goal. The teacher can share each of the teams’ solutions and model
their problem solving strategies throughout the activity. If students
are having difficulty with specific shapes, they can also record the
challenges being faced. The key element to this activity is for
students to clearly describe the process they use to manipulate the
The closing should be structured so that students can review and
pull together what they have learned. Include questions or tasks that
encourage students to reflect on their work. For example, you could
have students consider questions similar to the questions (as found in
the Questions for Students
section) after they have finished the activity. In so doing they will
consolidate what they have learned. Furthermore, this will provide an
opportunity for you and the students to assess what they have learned
and what they still want or need to understand. This will help you plan
After completing the online activity, encourage students to reflect on the Things are Shaping Up activity. You could closing questions such as the following:
- What was the first attribute you noticed that was similar between the two shapes?
- What was the first attribute you noticed that was different between the two shapes?
- What attributes stayed true to each shape even through the manipulation process?