## “Teaching” Proofs

We recently began trig proofs. I love trig proofs. To me they are a joyful puzzle.

My students don’t quite share my sentiments.

/understatement

Today I heard: “I don’t know where to begin“, “This takes too long“, or “Show me what to do and I’ll do it“. Friday I worked out some examples. Students worked out examples. They worked together. I walked around and offered guidance. My suggestions included: finding a common denominator, factoring, using the identities (I gave them a sheet with them all listed – I’m not assessing their ability to memorize). Today was more of the same. We’ve seen multiple methods of proving the same thing. I find joy in this – yay, there’s more than one way! The students seem to find this annoying.

Aside from the open-endedness of the steps, what is giving them the most problems is the dreaded f-word.

One student summed it up pretty well, “The darn fractions finally caught up with me.”

I don’t know how to “teach” proofs. They want a step-by-step procedure. Unless I’m missing something, there isn’t one. Just play with it. Try something.

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### 4 Responses to “Teaching” Proofs

1. Dan Meyer says:

I haven’t taught trig proofs in several years but I really enjoyed opening it with some six degrees of [x movie star].

Like, connect Tom Cruise to Tom Hanks.

And then pointing out through the absurdity how there isn’t a formula for these kinds of problems.

2. Jackie says:

Nice. Totally trying that tomorrow. Thanks Dan! Yet again.

3. Kristen says:

I looove trig proofs!

4. Pingback: Proof Update « Continuities