This year I'm teaching proof much more the way I have taught writing in previous years in English programs, and I have to say that the scaffolding and assessment techniques I learned as a part of a very high-performing ELA/Writing program are helping me (and benefiting my Geo students) a lot this year.
I should qualify that my school places an extremely high value on proof skills in our math sequence. Geometry is only the first place where our students are required to use the techniques of formal proof in our math courses. So I feel a strong duty to help my regular mortal Geometry students to leverage their strengths wherever possible in my classes. Since a huge number of my students are outstanding writers, it has made a world of difference to use techniques that they "get" about learning and growing as writers and apply them to learning and growing as mathematicians.
We are still in the very early stages of doing proofs, but the very first thing I have upped is the frequency of proof. We now do at least one proof a day in my Geometry classes; however, because of the increased frequency, we are doing them in ways that are scaffolded to promote fluency.
Here's the thing: the hardest thing about teaching proof in Geometry, in my opinion, is to constantly make sure that it is the STUDENTS who are doing the proving of essential theorems.
Most of the textbooks I have seen tend to scaffold proof by giving students the sequence of "Statements" and asking them to provide the "Reasons."
While this seems necessary to me at times and for many students (especially during the early stages), it also seems dramatically insufficient because it removes the burden of sequencing and identifying logical dependencies and interdependencies between and among "Statements."
So my new daily scaffolding technique for October takes a page from Malcolm Swan and Guershon Harel (by way of Dan Meyer).
I give them the diagram, the Givens, the Prove statement, and a batch of unsorted, tiny Statement cards to cut out.
Every day they have to discuss and sequence the statements, and then justify each statement as a step in their proof.
This has led to some amazing discussions of argumentation and logical dependencies.
An example of what I give them (copied 2-UP to be chopped into two handouts, one per student) can be found here:
-Sample proof to be sequenced & justified
Now students are starting to understand why congruent triangles are so useful and how they enable us to make use of their corresponding parts! The conversations about intellectual need have been spectacular.
I am grateful to Dan Meyer for being so darned persistent and for pounding away on the notion of developing intellectual need in his work!