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I've been teaching high school math for over 20 years. I write about my experiences here and also share activities that I have done with my classes that have been successful (and some that have been not so successful).

How to Make Diagrams for your Geometry Class

If you teach Geometry, then you know that there are lots of diagrams needed in Geometry.

Just to name a few...

→parallel lines cut by a transversal

→equilateral triangles

→regular polygons

→the apothem of a regular polygon

→a line tangent to a circle

→angles inscribed in a circle

Maybe you have had to draw your diagrams by hand. Maybe you have done a lot of literal copying and pasting when you have an image from a textbook or a worksheet that you want to put on another worksheet or a test.

Maybe you have always wanted to make professional-looking diagrams (efficiently) for your high school math class, but didn't know how. I was in your shoes once.

At the time of writing, I don't teach Geometry and haven't done for about 5 years, but I still use Math Illustrations on occasion to make a diagram for my Precalculus or Calculus class.

Enter Math Illustrations.

I started working at a new school in 2012 and was assigned to teach Geometry. It had been about 10 years since the last time I taught Geometry. I knew there had to be a better way to make diagrams of intersecting lines or regular polygons than to use PowerPoint, Geometer's Sketchpad, or GeoGebra. 

So I did some research and I came across Math Illustrations. They have a free trial, so I tried it. I quickly fell in love with it. The paid version is very affordable.

I made all of these images using Math Illustrations:

Math Illustrations vs. Geometer's Sketchpad (or GeoGebra)

In one of my undergraduate classes in the late 90s, we spent a lot of time learning how to construct parallel lines or regular polygons using Geometer's Sketchpad.  

But if I wanted a regular hexagon to put on a worksheet, I didn't have time to construct one (or research how to do it since I had forgotten). 

With Math Illustrations there's a button on one of the toolbars that quickly allows you to create a regular n-gon in less than 5 seconds!

The toolbars where all of the magic happens.

I made this regular heptagon in less than 5 seconds.
Any of the annotations/text that you don't want can be easily hidden.
The interior color can be changed, too.

It's dynamic

What's great about the heptagon above is that if you click and drag on one of the vertices, all sides change accordingly since it's a regular polygon.

Math Illustrations vs. PowerPoint

Yes, there are ways to make a regular polygon in PowerPoint, and that's an okay option if you already have PowerPoint, but PowerPoint is not intended to be software for making geometric diagrams. 

PowerPoint is not as powerful as Math Illustrations or Geometer's Sketchpad or Geogebra (I don't have as much experience with Geogebra).

My favorite tools in Math Illustrations

πŸ’—Force two lines or segments to be parallel by using the parallel constraint tool

πŸ’—Force a right angle by selecting the intersecting lines or segments, then click on the right angle constraint tool.

πŸ’—Force two segments to be congruent by selecting the segments, then selecting the congruent constraint tool.

πŸ’—Force an angle to be exactly 63 degrees by selecting the two rays or segments that make the angle, then selecting the angle constraint tool.

πŸ’—You can graph a polygon on the coordinate plane, too. Just turn on the coordinate grid. Select a point you have plotted and click on the coordinate constraint tool to force the point to be at a particular location on the coordinate plane.

πŸ’—Want to clean up the diagram? Select an object or label that you want to hide and press Ctrl+H (Cmd +H on a Mac)

It graphs Conics, too

You can easily graph a parabola defined by it's vertex and focus by using the parabola drawing tool.

You can graph an ellipse defined by its two foci.

You can graph a hyperbola defined by its two foci.

Yes, it graphs functions.

There is an option to graph functions (or polar graphs). You can even transform functions (and any geometric shape) with the construction tools (translation, reflection, rotation, and dilation).

I don't use Math Illustrations to graphs functions as often as I use Autograph or Desmos. But it does mean that this software is a one-stop shop for most of your graphing needs.

The free Figure Gallery

If you don't have time to create all the diagrams you need, check out the Figure Gallery. There are over 100 free images that you can use. You can download the file, then open it in the Math Illustrations software and personalize it for your students' needs.

The Figure Gallery at MathIllustrations.com

No more literal copy and paste!

So no more should you have to copy an image from a worksheet or textbook with the photocopy machine, cut it out with scissors, tape it onto a worksheet, then either scan or make another photocopy. (Yes, that's what teachers used to do!). Now you can make all of your diagrams digitally. Try it today!

What do you use to make Geometry diagrams? Join my Facebook group and let me know.


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