Teaching Trigonometry

I decided to try a new approach to teaching trigonometry this spring.  In the past I have used a scaffolding approach by reviewing my students knowledge of right triangle trig from geometry.  Then I extend their knowledge slightly by finding trig values for non-acute angles and negative angles.  Next, I would introduce Radian measure as length of an arc on the unit circle.  Then finally leading into trig on the unit circle.  Again, the mentality of this was to make connections with previous knowledge to maximize long term retention.

This year I changed it up and jumped right into using the unit circle for all my trig definitions and worked back towards their geometry knowledge using the EngageNY curriculum.  So far, this has been a tremendous success.  My students have a much better understanding of Trig, than they have had in the past.   I’m crediting this to not only the sequencing and mindset created from the curriculum, but also the student centered explorations presented in the curriculum.  I would not rank this curriculum as the best out there, but it is better than many.  When you add in the free price tag, EngageNY is a great resource.


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