Teaching Pythagoras
Part of the series Classroom Observation with Bayley
 Duration: 15 mins
 No Subtitles
 Published: 06 October 2010
 Licence information for Teaching Pythagoras
Summary
John Bayley observes as an AST maths teacher turns the challenge of teaching Pythagoras's theorem into a fun and engaging lesson for Key Stage 3.
Discarding lesson objectives, former Teacher of the Year, Dan Walton, engages the Year 8 students in a series of activities which lead them to discover the formula of Pythagoras for themselves.
Dan uses golf to explore rightangled triangles, introducing the hypotenuse by solving a dogleg hole in one. By playing games with numbers the children discover a numerical solution to their problem.
Next their newfound knowledge is put into practice as the class compete to solve a murder using the answers to a series of Pythagoras problems.
Dan keeps the momentum going using praise, games and even the children?s mobile phones to ensure the class is engrossed to the end.
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Comments (5)
There are two important things/ concepts in introducing pythagoras thoerem.
1. it must be a right angled triangle( explicit or implicit).
2. the theorem is about areas, from which length is obtained.
You do not seem to have covered these fundamental bits and there is no way that this lesson should be classified as an innovative approach. Besides in as much as I do not play golf, I do not think a golf club is right angled. You seem to have just taught route learning of pythagoras which will lead to a dead end in their learning of this theorem in the very near future.
Dalaba  that's a bit of a harsh criticism.
Clearly the teacher was trying to get the students motivated in the topic, which he was able to do by using a number of interesting teaching ideas. Agreed that he could have emphasized the right angle a bit more (he may of done anyway), but it really is not necessary to mention areas, certainly not to Yr 9 (?) students. Diverging and talking about that would surely have been a huge turn off, besides, looking at area is only one geometrical interpretaion of the rule; there are several proofs of the theorem which make no reference to areas at all.
Personally I think that getting through both hypotenuse and shorter side ideas in one lesson was impressive. Presumably he would of used the following lesson to have consolidated the setting out of their work, whether the rule works for other triangles, more challenging questions etc.
(Associate)
Is Pythagoras theorem a geometric concept, a numerical concept or an algebraic one?
Or is it all three?
And which of these representations provide the 'best' starting point.
Does it help students to have a deeper conceptual understanding if they can make connections between the different representations?
Sorry, no answers (or judgements) but just some questions to help us to make sense of what it is we might be trying to 'teach' when we are faced with Pythagoras theorem' on the scheme of work!
I can understand when kids draw accurate lengths of the two shorter sides, and then measure the longer side. In the video, it doesn't sound right that a girl student will know that she will square the sides add them up and find the square root without the teacher mentioning anything of the sort up to that moment, unless ofcourse she has prior knowledge as a top set kid. These videos do not buy me over
The students were given prompts! All they had to do was play around with the numbers and the operations and given enough time more of them would have come up with the answer.