When we get to learning about transformations near the end of the year, it always surprises me that my students have a pretty strong foundation in transformations. Hooray! But the caveat with transformations in 8th grade is that they have to find the resulting coordinates without using a graph. This boils down to a whole bunch of rules that students have to learn and memorize. To learn and remember the effects of transformations, it helps if students actually understand why the rules are what they are. Then, students need to get a lot of practice with each one.
I’ve written a post about a discovery lab that builds a foundation for these rules (you can read it here). It’s my favorite way to start off the unit. Then, I love to give students lots of ways to practice while trying to keep it fun and interesting (aka non-boring). Below I’ve made a list of eleven activities that support learning and practicing the effects of transformations. Some of the activities work great as anticipatory sets, others as practice, and some as extension activities. I’ve tried all of them in my classroom, and I hope that you will enjoy some in your classroom as well.
- Math Mash-ups Reflections
- Transformation Work Mat Freebie
- Effects of Rotations Scavenger Hunt
- Effects of Translations Riddle
- Reflections Coloring Page-Freebie
- Transform a Picture Activity
- Effects of Transformations Match and Paste
- Transformations Bingo
- Effects of Transformations 20 Questions
- Guess the Transformation Online
- Transfomations Logo Project
11 Transformations Activities that will ignite learning in your classroom
I recently started using Math Mash-ups videos in my class. You can find these videos on YouTube. They have a lot of videos to choose from. They are fun and engaging and not as silly as the Shmoop videos. I like to mix things up and not always use the same type of video. Also, when I use a video I make sure that students write some type of response or summary for the video. For this video, my students wrote a short summary of the key points from the video. Sometime you may even have to watch videos more than once so that students can get more out of it. We watched this video a couple of times to really give students a chance to see what was happening with these figures.
This work mat was created by Brittany Ensminger and is available for free in her TPT store. This activity works as a great way for students to see how transformations work. Also, they get to write about them and talk about them. I usually have students share their written responses with their partners. This gives them the opportunity to talk about transformations and to listen and try to understand someone else. In addition, they’re accountable to someone else. This activity really got them talking and using their math language.
In this scavenger hunt students are given a set of coordinate points and a transformation. Then they have to figure out what the resulting points would be. There are no graphs. My students use their notes and their understanding to figure it out. I have them work in partners to complete this type of scavenger hunt and the students get really into it. If you will let students get up and go around the room, you may be shocked to see how much they respond to this activity. I always hear the best conversations, and incorporating a little bit of movement seems to help my squirrelier students stay focused. It may not seem like much more than worksheet, but when you put it into this type of format, there are kids that come alive.
My first year teaching this topic I didn’t give students enough practice with reflections. It seemed like they didn’t need as much time because reflections aren’t very complicated. I soon came to realize, though, that they still needed practice. So, I created more practice for them with a reflections coloring page. I decided that it would be a great free resource because it doesn’t take too long to do in class, but it does a great job of reinforcing this topic. You can download here for free. It makes for a great warm-up or homework assignment.
If you look on Pinterest you will see a lot of versions of this transform a picture assignment. This blog post does a great job of explaining this activity and has really good example pictures. When I did this with my students, I think that I was a little too concerned about time. We started it as an anticipatory set and some of my students were very unimaginative and didn’t want to do a whole bunch of work. They got impatient and just wanted to finish. But, to be honest, that was probably partially my fault because of my own concerns about finishing it quickly.
We started this project one day and then worked on it at the beginning of class for 3 consecutive days. It was a good way for students to see the transformations in action, but I could have done a better job of setting it up. I think that next year when I do this project I will give them a couple of pictures to choose from so that they don’t have to spend so much time making on the first day.
I love the Effects of Transformations Match and Paste activity. There aren’t a ton of activities out there that specifically work on the effects of transformations and are fun and engaging. I love the cutting and pasting aspect of this activity and for the past two years that I have used it, I’ve had the students work with a partner when they complete it (read more about this activity here). I do have both people make their own, but they can work together and bounce ideas off of each other.
This resources has two different activities for students to complete. It gives you as teacher an easy way to see if they’re getting it or not. Some students have crazy answers, and then you know that it’s time for an intervention. I allow them to use their notes and then encourage them to not use their notes when they don’t think they need to. This match and paste is such an engaging and informative activity.
I’ve used this Transformations Bingo game from Rise Over Run for a few years and the kids love it. I love that you don’t have to prep anything and the PowerPoint presentation that goes along with it is interactive. The pictures are very visual and there’s a variety of examples. Also, this game works great as a whole class review before the test or to see what students are getting or not getting.
This 20 questions game for transformations got created when I just felt like making a new game. In addition to solving problems and answering questions, this game has the added twist of students trying to figure out a hidden picture. There are no points awarded. This game is played like 20 questions where you can only ask yes or no questions to try to name the hidden picture. I’ve had some classes get really into it! This year was no exception. My class has a group of competitive boys who always think they’ll always win. They get all psyched up to compete against each other. What I loved this year was they were beaten by a quiet girl. Ha! Turns out she’s just as competitive as them, but without all the bravado. She quietly won and it left everyone speechless.
This Guess the Transformation Online activity works great for a great warm-up or anticipatory set. Students have to look at an image and identify what type of transformation has occurred. Something great about this online activity is that it’s interactive. It keeps the students engaged for a few minutes and it gives you idea of how much they know about this topic. You might want to use this early in a unit just to get a litmus test of their understanding. This can be surprising either way. Sometimes I’m shocked at how much they already know, and sometimes it shocks me when they don’t already know something. This is a great tool to see what students already understand.
This Transformations Logo Project works well if you need an extension activity or something for fast finishers to work on throughout the unit. I found it on Mrs E Teaches Math’s blog. She goes step by step through the process of completing this activity. Also, she has a free page that gives the tasks and grading guide for the project. It brings the real world into the classroom because students get to use a logo they’re familiar with and analyze it mathematically.
Try one thing…
Whether you are a new teacher teaching this for the first time or a seasoned veteran, I’ve found that choosing one thing to try and implement is not too overwhelming. My challenge to you is to choose one of these activities and try it in your classroom. Let us know how it went by writing a comment below or sending us an e-mail. We love to connect with other teachers who experiment with new approaches in their classroom.
Also, you can check out all of our resources for teaching the effects of transformations here. This collection includes many of the games referenced above, plus task cards, a discovery lab, and more.
Thanks for reading! Until next time.
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