# Teaching trigonometry via problem solving

By | June 17, 2010
I believe that the best way to learn mathematics is through solving problems. However, most problems are found at the end of unit or chapters. Because we are in a hurry to cover the textbooks or the curriculum, we skip the problem solving part and then we complain that our students are very poor in problem solving.

The only way to develop problem solving skills is by solving problems. The only way not to skip problem solving is to put it in the beginning of the lessons, use it in teaching the concept than as applications after learning the concepts only. I have shared sample lessons on teaching integers and algebraic expressions via problem solving in this blog. This time I’ll  share a trigonometry lesson through PowerPoint presentation. The lesson is an introductory lesson on tangent and cotangent. The lesson shows how you can introduce these concept as ratios and as functions.

Features of the lesson

• Teaches via problem solving
• The problems have many solutions
• Links new concepts to previously learned knowledge
• Problems are in real-life contexts
• Shows geometric and algebraic (function) side of trigonometry
• Students  compares and evaluates different solutions

The presentation shows the teacher the flow of the lesson.  Use it after the students have solved the problems in different ways, as a way of summarizing the possible solutions. Crucial to the lesson is slide #10 which contains questions for discussing the students’ solutions and the link between the previously learned concepts and the new concepts introduced in this lesson.

## 8 thoughts on “Teaching trigonometry via problem solving”

1. Olawale Babawande E

i will like to teach trigonometry or geometry via problem solving, please how do i go about? do you have any video clips that i can make use of?

2. Steve

I couldn’t see the lesson on tangent through problem solving
I’m going to teach my ninth grader trig and could use some help on the basics at the beginning

1. erlines

The idea of this lesson is to link the idea of solving for sides of similar triangle to the tangent ratio. To solve for a side of a triangle using the idea of similarity, one needs to draw or construct a triangle similar to the given. With tangent ratio, you don’t need to construct another triangle because the ratio of the opposite side to the adjacent side is constant… I will try to write a post on this over the weekend. Thanks for asking. I used the PowerPoint presentation in a seminar-workshop on teaching trigonometry to a group of teachers. I posted it here so they can download a copy.