Geometry is a natural area of mathematics for which students should develop reasoning and justification skills and their appreciation of the logico-deductive part of mathematics that build across the grades. Learning tasks therefore should be so designed so that the focus of the learning is on the development of these skills as well and not merely on the learning of facts.
Consider the GeoGebra applets in Figures 1 and 2 below. Which of them will you use for teaching the relationships among the angles made by transversal with parallel lines? Before this lesson of course, the students already learned about linear pairs. Click the figures below to explore the applets before you continue reading.
In the first figure, dragging D or F along the parallel lines, the students will observe that there are angles that will always be equal. Thus from this, they can make the following conjectures:
(1) the alternate interior angles are equal;
(2) the vertical angles are equal;
(3) the corresponding angles (a pair of interior and exterior angles on the same side of the transversal) are equal; and,
(4) the pair of exterior and interior angles on the same side of the transversal sum up to 180 degrees.
In all these cases, the students are reasoning inductively. They will generalize from the measures they observed. Because of this, there seem to be no need for proof since there were bases for the generalizations. The measures of the angles. In this activity students will have learned geometric facts but not the geometric reasoning. Inductive reasoning maybe, but not deductive reasoning.
Contrast the first applet to the second one. Dragging D or F along the parallel lines, the students will observe that the sum of the pair of exterior -interior angles on the same side of the transversal is always 180 degrees. They will also observe that the other angles also changes. The teacher can then challenge the students to make predictions about the measures of these angles and the relationships among them. These will create a need for proof.
And how should the proof look like? My suggestion is not to be very formal about it like using a two-column proof. For example, to prove that measures of vertical angles are always equal they can set up their proof like these:
To prove p = t:
p + s = 180
s + t = 180
p + s = s + t
p = t.
Students can very well set-up an explanation like this. They have seen it when they learned about solving systems of linear equation. What more, it uses the very important property of equality – the transitive property: If a = c, and b = c, then a = b. Great way to link algebra and geometry.