Last year my good friend and collaborator, Steve Kelly, came up with a phenomenal activity for trig verification. However, he implemented it a few weeks after I had already completed that unit in my class. This year, as we approached simplification and verification I made sure to borrow his activity and it’s definitely worth sharing.

It’s difficult to share the materials for this activity but I will try to explain it as clearly as possible. Students break into groups of 2 to 3. They then choose one of six folders, which each contain a different verification problem. The folder contains all the steps to the problem on separate sheets of paper. The students then have to organize the the steps in the correct order to complete the proof. (This was done on the floor in order to have enough space to show all the steps.) Once they think they have all the steps in the right order, they must get it checked with the teacher. If it is correct, they go grab another problem and work through it in the same way. Once they complete all the problems they move on to collaborative whiteboard work, then independent work.

I put this activity right after my students got through simplification. This was their first exposure to verification. I liked that for their first exposure to the topic they had all the steps they needed and had to reason their way to the solution in a collaborative situation. This meant no students felt in over their head or completely stuck. Also, they were able to see some of the techniques play out, without a formal lecture on the common techniques.

Here are a few pictures from the activity. If you have any questions about how it went or any feedback please let me know! Also, if you aren’t following Steve on Twitter already make sure to give him a follow! This is just one of his brilliant ideas!

UPDATE: Here are all the materials for the activity, including the instructions, whiteboard problems, and colored stations.

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LOVE this! We are getting to that in about a month and I’m so going to borrow this!!

A few questions…

So, it looks like each step of the problem had 3 pieces of paper – one for the left side, one equals sign, and one of the right side (which never changes). Is that right? I really like how that emphasizes to students that they have to get the left side to equal the right but can’t change the right (I always have students who want to manipulate both sides)

How many of these did you have each group complete before moving on to the collaborative work? Am I right in guessing it would take 10-15 minutes for each proof, or is it quicker than that since they just have to piece the puzzle together?

You guys have me so excited about this and I still have a long time till I get to it! Thanks!! I will let you know how it goes with my kiddos.

Oh and one more – did you follow this activity up with a video lesson, or was it 100% discovery and working thru it?

Two to three days before they watched our video on identities and simplification and then worked through several simplification problems. But we have no video component for verification. I did this activity and then spent another two days in class with students working through lots of problems of varying difficulty.

I should also mention that as they worked through the problems in the following days I discussed common techniques for working out verification problems, but there was no formal lecture/lesson on it.

Yes each step had three sheets of paper. Each group completed six problems of varying degree of difficulty before moving on to the whiteboard work. They didn’t take quite that long because of the puzzle piece thing you mentioned. We have seventy minute classes and almost all my students got through the main activity and whiteboard work. Most took the individual work (2 or 3 problems) home for home work. I hope that gives you a bit of an idea on timing.

Hi Zach,

This looks like a great activity! I followed the Dropbox link for the materials but it is giving me an “unavailable 404 unknown” error. Would you be able to share them with me another way? That would be fantastic! This looks like a wonderful activity.

Ugh. I was certain I fixed all the links on this page. But yes I will definitely get them to you. So sorry for the broken links.

That is a-okay! Thank you for the quick reply. This is my first year teaching Pre-Calc and a friend suggested this activity! It looks great. What is the best way for me to snag them from you?

Here is the link to the materials. Let me know if you have questions about how to run it. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kkz4llk5xxxu7a9/AADwDLflj97-CvC3iiwMowwxa?dl=0

Also, here’s a link to all my functions stuff and all my trig stuff. Precalc is maybe my favorite class to teach. Let me know how it goes and what I can do to improve anything you try!

Functions: http://bit.ly/1yPBDsn

Trig: http://bit.ly/1OMedMT

This is great! I’ll be sure to touch base with you once I use them and see how they go. Thank you, again!