Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Geometry in First Grade: Building a Research-Based Unit

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jonathon Brendefur


My research project was to design a research based unit for a first grade class, teach it, and compare the pretests with the posttests. When I started designing the unit, I chose to focus on the geometric figures performance standards from the Meridian School District standard-based report card for first grade.

The standards are:

• Recognize and name 2D and 3D shapes (triangle, rectangle, square, circle, cone, cube, cylinder)

• Compare and describe attributes of 2D and 3D shapes (e.g. angles, number of faces, 2D, 3D)

• Sort and classify 2D and 3D shapes by more than one attribute, then describe the attribute used (“How are they the same? How are they different?”)

• Build and draw 2D and 3D shapes (triangle, rectangle, square, circle, cone, cube, cylinder)

This unit focused on the four 2D figures specified. I designed an introductory lesson, a lesson focused on each shape and a concluding lesson. In my lessons, I planned on having the students do all the things mentioned in the standards. My pretest and posttest were designed to assess the standards. The research suggests that “Children exhibit various types of misconceptions, such as undergeneralization, which can occur because they include irrelevant characteristics; overgeneralization, which can occur because some key properties are omitted; and language-related misconceptions” (Fuys and Liebov, 1997, p. 248). All of these misconceptions are related; essentially students do not fully understand a concept and the vocabulary that goes with it. One important idea I found is that it is important to use multiple examples and non-examples of concepts in many contexts. I tried to do this throughout the unit. My main objective was for the students to be able to identify, build, draw, and describe our four basic shapes. To do this, we talked about the attributes of each shape, often informally, and how they compared to other shapes. We then used the attributes we had found to identify, build and draw them. Research has also found that students go through different levels of understanding of shapes. Most of the students in the first grade class were likely at the visual level—they identify shapes according to their appearance (Clements and Sarama, 2000, p. 482). I was trying to push them to a more descriptive level—they recognize and can characterize shapes by their properties (Ibid.). I found that the majority of the students in the class increased their scores from the pretest to the posttest. They clearly had a better understanding of geometric shapes and were able to analyze shapes for similarities and differences.