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WONG, Mei Fun Regina; LEUNG, Kui Chiu Issic Logos Academy Area 73A, Tseung Kwan O, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China

Abstract It has been a long struggle for many mathematics school teachers to effectively deliver to the students the abstract concept of identifying different geometric figures by their characteristics. It would be equally frustrating for students that, in most assessment activities, if they are unable to identify the sufficient condition to classify various quadrilaterals. It is for this reason that we have tried to develop an effective teaching method which would enable students to distinguish between the characteristics among those special quadrilaterals. The main idea is to introduce a deductive transformation on a chosen property of either the size of interior angles, or the length of their edges. This study indicates that, even for Grade 3 students, aged 8 to 9 years old, are able to distinguish the common properties, inclusive properties and transitive properties in the process of identification and comparison of quadrilaterals. The accurate placement of the respective quadrilaterals into the intersection of the family sets in the Venn Diagram shows that they can tell the reason why a square is also a rectangle, a parallelogram as well as a rhombus. To them it is no longer a myth to say that a square is also a rectangle.

Key words: Characteristics of quadrilaterals, sufficient conditions, deductive transformation, Diagram.

Venn

Introduction

To many primary and even secondary students, a rhombus is a diamond with edges of equal lengths while a square is just a regular quadrilateral with equal sides and angles. How can we say that a square is a rhombus? We perceive the geometric figures by simple recognition of their shapes. Even though we argue that we can view the square in different orientations, it is difficult, for a young child, to say that a square is also a rhombus. The argument lies in the fact that we are trying to compare the conditions, more precisely speaking, the sufficient conditions, of how a quadrilateral can be called a square , a rhombus, or a parallelogram. This recognition comes from the identification of the characteristics of various shapes. These shapes are categorized by their dimensions – length of sides; size of angles – the measure of interior angles as well as the orientation of opposite sides – whether or not they are parallel. The term “is also” is fairly confusing as we consider a square to be a square, fundamentally it cannot be anything else. The underlying topological equivalence between a square and a rhombus, or a square and a parallelogram is hardly perceived by many teachers, not to mention their students. But should we, as professional educators, stop teaching our students the skills to identify quadrilaterals, since they keep coming across such figures in their daily life, as they have been taught to recognize the shape of various objects since the toddler stage? The answer seems to be negative. Even though they may not even know the mathematical meaning of the word “topological equivalence”, they should be confident enough to say, after being taught that, a square is simply, in a logical sense, another parallelogram or rhombus. According to The Curriculum Development Council’s Mathematics Curriculum Guide (1999, 2000), primary students in the learning dimensions of “Shape and Space” are expected to master the learning objective of “comparing the characteristics of different types of quadrilaterals” in Key Stage 2 (KS2). Secondary students, in Key Stage 3 (KS3), are expected to master the learning objective of “deducing the properties of various types of

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Secondly. 2 . Let us summarize them in the table by defining the following: (a) (4a) (ad) (ss) (pp) 1 pair of opposite angles equal 4 right angles 1 pair of adjacent sides equal 2 pairs of opposite sides equal 2 pairs of opposite sides parallel (2ad) 2 pairs of adjacent sides equal (4s) 4 sides equal (p) 1 pair of opposite sides parallel (aa) two pairs of opposite angles equal Students were taught the characteristics of these quadrilaterals. it would be easier to teach them logical arguments such as “a parallelogram with 2 pairs of opposite sides equal is sufficient to satisfy the characteristics of a rhombus” by introducing the concept of critical points of deductive transformation (variations and orientation of such shapes). They tell the characteristics by their outlook. To illustrate this idea. The following table summarizes what they have learnt initially. we have introduced an innovative teaching method to facilitate students’ understanding of these concepts. rectangle. we consider first. the students learnt the various properties of these shapes so as to be able to identify the different types of quadrilaterals by comparing their characteristics. kite and trapezium (see figure 1). Figure 1: Characteristics of Quadrilaterals Parallelogram Rectangle Rhombus Square Kite Trapezium (pp) (ss) (aa) (4a) (pp) (ss) (aa) (pp) (ss) (aa) (4s) (4a) (pp) (ss) (aa) (4s) (a) (2ad) (p) The difficulty in delivering the logical and abstract arguments regarding geometric properties to students lies in the fact that children intuitively perceive the geometric figures by their physical appearance. Consequently. we started with the characteristics of the three categories as stated below.quadrilaterals but with focus on parallelograms and special quadrilaterals”. including a parallelogram. As for prior knowledge. Unfortunately. Teaching Methodology In teaching the classification of quadrilaterals. For these reasons. square. the property of interior angles of a parallelogram. rhombus. the document does not say “how to master” the properties of various shapes. we mark an angle from the pair of acute interior angles.

And by the property “opposite angles are equal”. “B” is 80º These five figures satisfy 3 properties of being a parallelogram (opposite sides parallel. induces different shapes of a parallelogram.Let x in figure 2 represent the measure of the acute interior angle so that its size varies within the range 0o < x < 180o . The following dialogues were transcribed from a Grade 3 mathematics lesson with 30 students whose ages were from eight to nine years old. please go to the board and find the one which is different from the others.C. Why do you choose this one? (a rectangle). it becomes a quadrilateral having 4 right angles. while it is critically equal to 90o. The sequence of the process of deduction (deductive transformation) follows: from “ x is less than 90o” to “ x = 90o ” to “ x is larger 90o”.. it is x than 0o < x < 90o a x = 90o a 90o < x < 180o . T: T: Angles are different. What is the difference? S: Angles are different in size. Teacher (T) and students (S) were discussing properties of quadrilaterals according to figure 3. Thank you.. T: T: How many properties of a parallelogram have you learnt? S: Three Right. opposite sides equal.B. It has 4 right 3 . one by one. How many right angles are there? S: Four.D and E) of variation of the shape of a parallelogram: 70º 80º 100º 80º 110º 70º 100º 110º Figure 3 A B C D E During the teaching process. Geometrically. What about their measures? S: “A” is 70º. opposite angles equal). S: Because this one has right angles. one more property. Parallelogram has 3 properties. from A to B. the above five figures were shown on the board. Figure A and B are both parallelograms. What is this property? S: 4 right angles Right. There are three properties. one more …. it becomes a right angle.. from a small magnitude to a larger one. T: T: T: T: T: Which one is the special one? S: (Student A points to Student A. Figure 2 Mathematically. And at one stage. There is a special one among these 5 figures. The variation of x. …. the deductive process can be illustrated in figure 3 as the five stages(A. figure C). S: OK. hence becoming a rectangle. In other words. This figure has one more property. this figure has one more ….

What mistake did I make? S: This is not a square. it has one more property (4 right angles). T: Yes. from A to B. We didn’t mention that it has 4 equal sides. we can also consider such deductive transformation on the dimension of a rectangle. Hence. Let us define d = base of rectangle − height of rectangle The sequence of such a process will be from “base > height” to “base = height” to “base < height” Geometrically. the sufficient conditions of a square has been induced and hence. Before the above figures 4 . What is it? S: It is a rectangle. therefore. And at this critical point of d = 0 (step C). I say this is a square. to the students. call it a square. We. one by one. opposite angles equal and four No.angles. Did I say that the figure has four sides equal? S: Does it (diagram C) have sufficient conditions to be a square? S: No How many properties does it have? S: Four These four properties are opposite sides parallel. hence we cannot say it is a square. the deductive process can be illustrated as 6 4 A 6 4 4 5 B 5 Figure 4 4 4 4 C 4 4 4 3 D 3 2 4 4 E 4 2 It is also clear that the critical stage will be attained when base = height. Student B. That figure does not. On the other hand. What if I call it a square? I want to argue with you that it is a square instead of a rectangle. Even though it has 3 properties as the parallelograms’. That diagram does not have four sides equal. it is a rectangle. it is a …… S: Rectangle. S:What?? A square!!! T: T: T: Oh! Sorry! I am wrong. and inevitably identifying the sufficient condition for a parallelogram to become a rectangle. opposite sides equal. This sense of “crossing over” figures(B to C) enables students to see the change of physically appearance of the shape of a quadrilateral. a rectangle becomes a square at this stage. Square has four sides equal. right angles. Am I wrong? What’s wrong? S: T: T: T: T: You are wrong. The five figures in figure 4 as before were shown on board. or equivalently d = 0 .

therefore. Teacher and students’ dialogue were transcribed as follows: S: T: S: T: S: T: S: T: S: You want to ask us which one among these diagrams is a special one.were shown. What are these figures? Rectangles How are these rectangles changing? They become narrower and narrower. (whole class answer) Students learning the change of characteristics of quadrilaterals in this way may easily grasp the idea of the topological equivalence of their shapes. We executed this idea to teach two classes of grade 3 students aged 8 years old on average. Narrower and narrower… there is a special one. Students were asked to do the following exercises on a worksheet after the lesson by putting the letters representing the quadrilaterals insides various regions of the set of families in the Venn Diagram. They knew what the teacher was trying to ask them. What is it? A square. Though it is impossible for them to know the mathematical meaning of this phrase. Students. students had already identified a sufficient condition for “a parallelogram to become a rhombus” or “a rhombus to become a square” through class discussion. got the idea immediately after diagrams appeared on board. Please choose the special one. This one (pointing to figure C ~ a square). kite parallelogram rectangle rhombus square trapezium A B Figure 5 C D E F Problem 1 4 right angles 4 sides equal Problem 2 4 sides equal 2 pairs of opposite angles equal 5 . it would not be too mythical for them to interpret that a square is also a parallelogram.

(1997)] also explains the inclusive properties of such quadrilaterals in a flow chart. This enables students to grasp the idea that the rectangle is a particular member (when the interior angle is 90o) of the family of parallelograms. This knowledge is the consequence of identifying and distinguishing sufficient conditions of determining a quadrilateral. we have not confined our demonstration to this study only. To many teachers and students. Deductive transformation. There. Mathematics Education Key Learning Area – Mathematics Curriculum Guide (P1 – P6). 6 . The effectiveness of learning such skills of identification is contributed by fixing all the variables of characteristics but one. it is quite a static and factual description. P. students need more cognitive capacity to perceive such ideas in learning to identify the characteristics of quadrilaterals. we consider the variation from “2 pairs of adjacent sides equal” to “4 sides equal”. Pleasurable Learning Mathematics 3A.. The Education Department of Hong Kong (1999). hence a rectangle is also a parallelogram. Since we seldom show the diagonals in presenting a quadrilateral. Although the preliminary assessment result appears quite promising. S. is a dynamic tool we have introduced here to show the progressive change of the properties. The generalization will also be applied through deductive transformation on the properties related to diagonals of quadrilaterals. Hong Kong. while students can perceive only the change of such angles measured through the deduction process. Hong Kong. & Kwok. We believe that students will also able to learn this skill of identification of quadrilaterals through the characteristics of diagonals after they have prior knowledge about them. say for example. M. We can also generalize that this method will succeed in helping students to identify the similarity of kites and rhombus. (1997).It was found that many students (out of a total of 75 students) successfully solved problems (1) and (2) (average score for (1) and (2) was 97% and 83% respectively) which demonstrates that they could accurately identify the common characteristics by putting appropriate quadrilaterals into the intersection. Leung and Kwok. References The Curriculum Development Council. Leung. This area of investigation is yet to be explored and requires further study.M. Syllabuses for Secondary Schools – Mathematics (Secondary 1 – 5). H. Chan. in contrast. The Education Department of HKSAR (2000). Hong Kong : Chung Tai Educational Press. x as the interior angle measured as in the discussion of previous section. This indicates that they c ould suitably identify the various properties to differentiate between the types of quadrilaterals and why some conditions were insufficient.. The Curriculum Development Council. Conclusion Grade 9 (Secondary 3) text book [Chan. W. This will deduce that “a rhombus is also a kite”.

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