While planning for geometry last week I began thinking about how I could amp up midpoint and distance formulas. After learning the formulas, my students practiced with very abstract points. However, I knew I wanted them to see examples that had meaning. With the help of the English and World Geography teacher, I developed my students first interdisciplinary activity of the year which they named their World Geo-metry assignment.
In WorldEng (their combined World Geography and English class) my students had been learning about Burma. So, I gave them a map of the region with questions where they had to find coordinate points of key locations they had been studying such as Dhaka, Naypyidaw, Bangkok, and Yangon (I learned a lot just from the start of this!!) After finding the coordinates, I asked them to find the midpoint and distance between these locations and draw conclusions based on the map. To make it more complex and meaningful, I added some questions about the scale in miles for students to understand the actual distance it would be to travel from one place to another. The final question asked students to compare the size of the border of Burma and Thailand to other borders of Burma and justify why refugees might be immigrating along this region (something they had been discussing in WorldEng).
I really liked the discussion I heard between students as they worked through the activity. I decided to give each student a worksheet, but make each pair share a map and I think this helped students talk through the locations, make connections, and agree upon their answers. I also really liked how the answers for distance were not exact integer answers. They had to work with tricky numbers and understand if their answers really made sense. Finally, I knew this activity was successful after students commented on how they were combining three classes to do their calculations.
Click here for the student handouts: Midpoint and Distance with World Geography