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TEACHER'S NOTES FOR

Solve for the area of a parallelogram by composing it


into a rectangle
created by Lisa Vojacek

Description
Big Ideas:
Area is additive. The sum of the areas of rectangles and triangles within a polygon will equal the area of the polygon.
The area of a parallelogram can be solved for by composing the parallelogram into a rectangle.
This lesson builds on students work with solving for the areas of different polygons and quadrilaterals. This task
presents students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge of finding the area of rectangles to finding the area
of parallelograms. Students are presented with different parallelograms and by decomposing them, they discover
that the area of a parallelogram can be found by decomposing it and then composing it into different shapes. By
decomposing the parallelograms, students will see how the areas of parallelograms and rectangles are related. The
mathematical concepts in this lesson build toward students future work with finding the areas of different twodimensional figures by decomposing them into triangles and other shapes.
Vocabulary: parallelogram, compose, decompose, base, height, rectangle, length, width, area, square units, right
triangle
Special Materials:
Grid Paper
Scissors
Tape or Glue
Supplemental Handout

Focus Standards
6.G.A.1, MP1, MP4

CORE LESSON
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Task Launch
As a whole group, examine and discuss the launch slide. Breaking the class into smaller groups to
decide and discuss would also be beneficial in helping you better understand students thoughts
and misconceptions.
Possible Guiding Questions
How do solve for the area of a rectangle?
What shape is figure B? How do you know?

Is it possible to solve for the area of figure B?


Why might Callie argue that the area of figure B is greater than the area of figure A?
What tools or strategies might we need to use find the area of figure B?

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Task 1 of 3
There are two parts to this task. In the first part, students will work independently or with a
partner as they discover that parallelograms are composed of different shapes. During this part,
students should work towards understanding that by solving for the areas of the different
polygons within the parallelogram, they can solve for the total area of the parallelogram (area is
additive).
In the second part of this task, students will compose a rectangle and discover the relationship
between a parallelogram and a rectangle. This discovery will help them understand that the area of
a parallelogram can be found by multiplying the base of the parallelogram by the height of the
parallelogram.
General Task Questions
What is this task asking you to do?
Explain why you think your answers are reasonable.
Are there other ways to show these same ideas? If so, what are they?
Task-Specific Questions
Part 1:
Can you find the area of the parallelogram by adding the areas of the triangles and rectangles
within the parallelogram?
Show different ways a parallelogram can be composed of rectangles and triangles. What is the
relationship that exists between the areas of the shapes within the parallelogram and the area
of the parallelogram?
What are some other ways the area of a parallelogram can be solved for?
Part 2:
What is the relationship that exists between the area of the parallelogram and the area of the
rectangle created by decomposing the parallelogram?
How can you solve for the area of a parallelogram without creating a rectangle?
Common Misconceptions/Errors:
Students may rotate the right triangle before attaching it to the existing parallelogram, creating
a different polygon, thus not recognizing the relationship that exists between the areas of
parallelograms and rectangles.
Students may compose a rectangle without first decomposing the parallelogram, which would
result in a different area.
Possible Solution Paths:
There are a variety of ways students could decompose the parallelograms for the first part of the
task. Below are some examples:

For the second part of the task, students will be creating a rectangle by decomposing the
parallelogram. Encourage discussion and collaboration as students work through the second part
of the task. Understanding the relationship that exists between the area of a parallelogram and
rectangle resulting from the decomposition of the parallelogram is critical to conceptual
understanding.

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Task 2 of 3
There are two parts to this task. In the first part, students will work independently or with a
partner as they discover that parallelograms are composed of different shapes. During this part,
students should work towards understanding that by solving for the areas of the different
polygons within the parallelogram, they can solve for the total area of the parallelogram (area is
additive).
In the second part of this task, students will compose a rectangle and discover the relationship
between a parallelogram and a rectangle. This discovery will help them understand that the area of
a parallelogram can be found by multiplying the base of the parallelogram by the height of the
parallelogram.
General Task Questions
What is this task asking you to do?
Explain why you think your answers are reasonable.
Are there other ways to show these same ideas? If so, what are they?
Task-Specific Questions
Part 1:
Can you find the area of the parallelogram by adding the areas of the triangles and rectangles
within the parallelogram?
Show different ways a parallelogram can be composed of rectangles and triangles. What is the

relationship that exists between the areas of the shapes within the parallelogram and the area
of the parallelogram?
What are some other ways the area of a parallelogram can be solved for?
Part 2:
What is the relationship that exists between the area of the parallelogram and the area of the
rectangle created by decomposing the parallelogram?
How can you solve for the area of a parallelogram without creating a rectangle?
Common Misconceptions/Errors:
Students may rotate the right triangle before attaching it to the existing parallelogram, creating
a different polygon, thus not recognizing the relationship that exists between the areas of
parallelograms and rectangles.
Students may compose a rectangle without first decomposing the parallelogram, which would
result in a different area.
Possible Solution Paths:
There are a variety of ways students could decompose the parallelograms for the first part of the
task. Below are some examples:

For the second part of the task, students will be creating a rectangle by decomposing the
parallelogram. Encourage discussion and collaboration as students work through the second part
of the task. Understanding the relationship that exists between the area of a parallelogram and
rectangle resulting from the decomposition of the parallelogram is critical to conceptual
understanding.

S L ID E

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Task 3 of 3
There are two parts to this task. In the first part, students will work independently or with a
partner as they discover that parallelograms are composed of different shapes. During this part,
students should work towards understanding that by solving for the areas of the different
polygons within the parallelogram, they can solve for the total area of the parallelogram (area is
additive).
In the second part of this task, students will compose a rectangle and discover the relationship
between a parallelogram and a rectangle. This discovery will help them understand that the area of
a parallelogram can be found by multiplying the base of the parallelogram by the height of the
parallelogram.
General Task Questions
What is this task asking you to do?
Explain why you think your answers are reasonable.
Are there other ways to show these same ideas? If so, what are they?
Task-Specific Questions
Part 1:
Can you find the area of the parallelogram by adding the areas of the triangles and rectangles
within the parallelogram?
Show different ways a parallelogram can be composed of rectangles and triangles. What is the

relationship that exists between the areas of the shapes within the parallelogram and the area
of the parallelogram?
What are some other ways the area of a parallelogram can be solved for?
Part 2:
What is the relationship that exists between the area of the parallelogram and the area of the
rectangle created by decomposing the parallelogram?
How can you solve for the area of a parallelogram without creating a rectangle?
Common Misconceptions/Errors:
Students may rotate the right triangle before attaching it to the existing parallelogram, creating
a different polygon, thus not recognizing the relationship that exists between the areas of
parallelograms and rectangles.
Students may compose a rectangle without first decomposing the parallelogram, which would
result in a different area.
Possible Solution Paths:
There are a variety of ways students could decompose the parallelograms for the first part of the
task. Below are some examples:

For the second part of the task, students will be creating a rectangle by decomposing the
parallelogram. Encourage discussion and collaboration as students work through the second part
of the task. Understanding the relationship that exists between the area of a parallelogram and
rectangle resulting from the decomposition of the parallelogram is critical to conceptual
understanding.

S L ID E

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Task Debrief 1 of 3
Use the debrief to facilitate classroom discussion about the task, and share student approaches to
the task. A possible task solution is included.
Possible Guiding Questions:
What is the formula used to find the area of a rectangle?
What is the formula used to find the area of a parallelogram?
What is the relationship between these two formulas? Explain your reasoning.
When decomposed, is it possible for a parallelogram to create a rectangle?
Why is it important to measure the height of the parallelogram when finding its area, rather
than using a side length?

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Task Debrief 2 of 3
Use the debrief to facilitate classroom discussion about the task, and share student approaches to
the task. A possible task solution is included.
Possible Guiding Questions:
What is the formula used to find the area of a rectangle?
What is the formula used to find the area of a parallelogram?

What is the relationship between these two formulas? Explain your reasoning.
When decomposed, is it possible for a parallelogram to create a rectangle?
Why is it important to measure the height of the parallelogram when finding its area, rather
than using a side length?

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Task Debrief 3 of 3
Use the debrief to facilitate classroom discussion about the task, and share student approaches to
the task. A possible task solution is included.
Possible Guiding Questions:
What is the formula used to find the area of a rectangle?
What is the formula used to find the area of a parallelogram?
What is the relationship between these two formulas? Explain your reasoning.
When decomposed, is it possible for a parallelogram to create a rectangle?
Why is it important to measure the height of the parallelogram when finding its area, rather
than using a side length?

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Big Idea(s) 1 of 2
The intent of the Big Idea(s) is to summarize the important mathematical concepts the task is
meant to elicit. Consider asking students to explain the concepts on each slide in their own words
and to connect each to the relevant part of the task.

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Big Idea(s) 2 of 2
The intent of the Big Idea(s) is to summarize the important mathematical concepts the task is
meant to elicit. Consider asking students to explain the concepts on each slide in their own words
and to connect each to the relevant part of the task.

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Closing
Indicators of Understanding:
Demonstrates understanding of the two ways to solve for the area of a parallelogram
Decomposes the parallelogram into triangles and rectangles (add the areas of each of these
shapes together)
Composes the parallelogram into a rectangle and solves for the area of the rectangle
Explains the relationship that exists between the area of a parallelogram and the area of a

rectangle
Understands that the height of a parallelogram is not the length of one of the sides extending
from the base
Explains how composing a parallelogram into a rectangle relates to the area formula for a
parallelogram (Area = Base x Height)

ASSESSMENT
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Formative Assessment
Success Criteria:
Understands that the area of a parallelogram can be found by multiplying the base and height
Understands the area of the rectangle can be found by multiplying the length and width
Explains how the areas of the two figures are equal
Explains how the area of a parallelogram can be found by composing it into a rectangle
Describes and labels the area of the two figures using square centimeters
Understands the properties of parallelograms and rectangles

PRACTICE EXERCISES
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Set A
Use these exercises for students who do not fully understand the big idea(s) of the lesson.

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Set B
Use these exercises for students who showed understanding but would benefit from added
practice.

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Set C
Use these exercises for students who displayed strong understanding of the big idea(s) and are
ready to develop a deeper understanding.

SUPPLEMENTAL HANDOUT

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Task Handout
The supplementary handout should be given to students prior to presenting them with the task.

ASSOCIATED VIDEO LESSON


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Video Lesson - Quick Code LZ1058


This LearnZillion lesson video supports a focus standard addressed in this lesson plan. You can
use it to support your own preparation before class, to enhance instruction during class, or to
provide additional support to students at home.
To share this video with students or parents, just have them type the quick code LZ1058 into any
LearnZillion search bar.

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