Adventures in Geometry with Mr. Borzi
From the moment you enter Mr. Borzi’s classroom, you can tell you are in for an adventure instead of a typical math class. The walls are lined with memes, quotes, and motivational words that echo the values of The Academy. As students entered, they got right to work on the “Do Now” problem of the day. The students asked Mr. Borzi questions and he often asked a question right back that got the students to keep solving the problem instead of looking to him for the answer.
After discussing the “Do Now” problem, Mr. Borzi set up the day’s activity. “I’m always trying to come up with real world problems based on what we’re covering in class,” he said. “It’s nice when you can be teaching something and then the next day, bam!, we are doing a real world activity. They have to figure it out and get to work together.” The students in his Geometry classes got to apply their understanding of the Segment Addition Postulate through an unusual, hands-on activity. Students acted as “building inspectors” and needed to determine the distance to the exit door from three different 4th floor classrooms. Each class was split into two groups and each group was only given three or four pieces of twine of varying length that were measured and labeled. Students had to make a diagram of the hallway, determine what distances each piece of twine represents, and by using the Segment Addition Postulate, determine each of the distances to the exit door.
One of Mr. Borzi’s core values is getting students to communicate and explain math rather than simply arriving at an answer. For the activity, each student created a report with all the data, calculations, and processes used. In their individual reports, they were given the chance to draw the map of the hallway and exits and present the information in whatever way they wanted as long as the key concepts and data was there.
In speaking with Mr. Borzi, he acknowledged that the idea of emphasizing communication in a Math class is a foreign concept to many students. When he returned the reports, he showed them examples of reports that earned the full amount of points. “I want these reports to stand alone so that someone could just pick this up, read it, and know exactly what the project was about without any prior information. They are getting into the habit of doing lab reports in science class or writing papers in English class but they don’t usually have to write about math in this way.” He is continuing to build these real-world activities from scratch for each topic he is teaching. “It is so rewarding to see these students in action applying what they are learning. That’s what excites me…the process of the learning and the life skills they are developing.”