4 Squares and a Diamond: Using Graphic Organizers for Engineering

4 Squares and a Diamond: Using Graphic Organizers for Engineering

By Diane Calloway
Environment/Civil Engineering
Delaware Technical Community College
Owens Campus

It started with Traverse Calculations and Coordinate Geometry in my Surveying Principles class. The students were having difficulty with the flow of the calculations, so I told them to take out a sheet of blank paper.

The looks they gave were entertaining. 

I could read worry in the eyes of some: Is she going to give us a quiz?

…excitement in others: This is new…wonder what she’s going to make us do.

…and bewilderment too: What on earth, paper? I thought all the notes were on Blackboard!

Once everyone had a sheet of paper ready, I instructed them to fold it in half and then fold it in half again.  There was giggling, there were smiles, and a few engineering students had issues with folding.  Then I instructed them to fold the center corner in about 1.5 inches.

Once I had their attention and the giggling had ceased (mind you these are all adult men in class), I had them open up their papers to reveal a paper quartered and with a diamond in the center. 

You see, as part of our New Faculty Development class, I learned about using graphic organizers and they seemed like a terrific way to get students organized with complex computations. I had to give them a try.

With our graphic organizers created, I then went through and gave students guidelines of how to solve a problem using the 5 spaces. On one side of the paper, I showed them how to solve a problem where they are given the coordinates of three points and they needed to solve how to calculate the perpendicular distance between one of the points and the line generated by the other two.  They entered the “Given” data and the “Find” data in the center diamond.  Then in the four surrounding squares, I broke the complex problem into an easy to follow 4-step process and gave them the formulas they needed for each of the four steps.

Once they had this completed, we used this graphic organizer to solve a problem together and then they used it in groups to solve an in-class assigned problem and finally individually to do the assigned homework.  It was a success and several of them asked if they could use this paper on the test.   

2 thoughts on “4 Squares and a Diamond: Using Graphic Organizers for Engineering

  1. Great post, Diane! I love graphic organizers but often forget to incorporate them into my lessons. Thanks for the reminder!

    Like

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