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Lesson Plan #11 - Quilting With Quadrilaterals
By Timothy J. Cody

The star quilt has and continues to play a very important role in the lives of the Native American people. Their culture holds the star quilt as a symbol of many things and the quilt itself offers many learning opportunities for the High School students of today and the future. It allows many different curricular disciplines the chance to include the star quilt into teaching concepts and other educational skills.

Choices from the following areas could be made to include lessons involving the star quilt: Art, Social Studies, Language Arts, Consumer Science and Mathematics. These are only a few to be highlighted with this lesson presentation.

For students to understand and learn connections between the star quilt and various things in their every day life. In particular, the applications of the making of the quilt and its patterns with the connection to geometric figures and their properties in Mathematics.

Time Required:
Depending on the discipline, unit could run from 2-3 weeks.

With the star quilt, instructors of Art could have students examine patterns of the quilt to include topics relating to: symmetry, blending of colors, and designs creating their own star quilt patterns.

Social Studies:
With the star quilt study, teachers of the Social Science classes could include guest speakers from the Native American community to speak on the symbolism of the star quilt and how it is used in giveaways as well as part of the Native American dance costumes. Also how the star quilt became part of the Native American history.

Language Art:
With the study of the star quilt, the Language Art instructors could utilize many opportunities for writing and speech lessons. Reports could be written describing how to make, how to design a pattern, what the symbols of the quilt represent and the history of the quilt just to name a few topics for writing lessons. Also utilized could be journalizing of various efforts in classes that include the star quilt in its lessons. Speeches could also be written and presented in class using the same topics as the writing assignments.

Customer Economics:
With the star quilt, teachers of Consumer Science may choose to bring in Native American quilt makers and demonstrate techniques of making quilts. Also to be discussed could be the economic aspect of selling quilts for profit. Students then could be given an assignment to create their own star quilts with perhaps use as fundraisers or personal items.

With the star quilt, Mathematics teachers may take advantage of opportunities by introducing topics of Geometry involving all quadrilateral figures; in particular the rhombus. Properties would include the perimeter, area, and diagonals as well as similar and congruent properties of triangles. Trigonometry would also be utilized as well as algebra to find values of missing parts of diagrams. Also included could be the study of properties of parallel lines and transversals. Properties involving angles and more algebra could be utilized in conjunction with the Geometry Sketchpad software programs on computers. Some work with compasses and protractors could also be included in lessons.

From the Mathematics teacher perspective, the following materials and equipment could be utilized: TI graphing calculators to be used with trig functions and properties of triangles; protractors, compasses and rulers could be used for hands on activities to create the geometric designs found in the star quilts; computers with geometry drawing utilities could also be used in this instruction. Any Geometry book and worksheets could supplement the math knowledge required for the properties examined with the star quilt designs and patterns.

Mathematical Standards:
With these exercises the standards could be met in the following ways: Students will be able to take problem situations with geometric models and apply properties to the various figures; students will classify figures in terms of congruence and similarity and their relationships; students will be able to deduce properties and relationships of figures given various assumptions; students will be able to translate deductions of figures to a coordinate system and properties of translations involving star quilt patterns which include expansions of similarity and congruence; students reasoning skills will be increased with studies of properties, graphs, spatial contexts and inductive and deductive patterns; students communication skills will be increased with writing assignments included in the study of the star quilts and positive group work on projects with constructions with both computer and hands-on materials; and students will increase problem solving skills with directed teacher discoveries. In all the following Standards could be covered in some fashion: mathematics as problem solving, mathematics as communication, mathematics as reasoning, mathematical connections, algebraic mathematics, geometry from a synthetic perspective, and geometry from an algebraic perspective.

While the specifics of lessons may not be highlighted, many opportunities and ideas are given for teachers of the various disciplines to utilize the Native American star quilt in a number of curriculums. Individual freedoms are given to instructors to create from resources of their choosing. A variety of methods of assessment could also be utilized in many manners from journals and written reports to worksheets and tests. Many group work and hands-on activities could also be used in the variety of assessment options.

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