Strategies: Help with Fundamentals
The following activities are suggestions for working with students who need help with fundamentals. We hope that the activities spark ideas and conversations among teachers about useful classroom strategies that can supplement existing curriculum.
Difficulty 1
Students may confuse the process for finding surface area
with area or volume formulas for various objects.

Help students understand the formula for the area of a triangle
by having them cut out two congruent right triangles. Then have them put the
two triangles together to form a rectangle. Since the area of the rectangle
is length times width or base times height, students can see that the area
of the triangle is half the area of the rectangle or
.
Extend students' thinking to nonright triangles by having them create parallelograms
from two nonright, congruent triangles. Once students understand the area
formulas for triangles and quadrilaterals, they are ready to apply these to
finding the surface area of threedimensional figures such as pyramids, prisms,
or cylinders.

Deepen students understanding of area and volume formulas by
having them create figures using graph paper, linking cubes or other materials.
For instance, have students begin by drawing a square or rectangle on the
graph paper. Students should understand the relationship between the number
of squares inside the figure and the formula
.
Next have students use linking cubes to create a rectangular prism or a cube.
Help them see the connection between the number of cubes used and the formula
.
Difficulty 2
Students may write incorrect proportions for similar figures.
Difficulty 3
Checking answers. Students should be able to determine if
their answers to word problems are reasonable.
