Saturday, November 19, 2016

Pythagorean Short Stacks

     Last year I taught an 8th grade collababorative math class. My class consisted of 12 special education students with IEP's, 4 students with 504 plans and 12 general education students who scored between 2nd and 4th grade level in math. I also had a special education teacher and teacher assistant to help in the classroom. This was truly the most challenging class I have ever taught. Trying to cover the standards with such a diverse group took lots and lots of planning. 

      My favorite unit with this class was Pythagorean Theorem. They really understood  it! In my Algebra and Pre-Algebra classes I used my Pythagorean Stack activity. See my previous post on Pythagorean Stacks here.  I knew this would be too difficult for my collab class to do so I adapted it and created my Pythagorean Short Stack activity for this group. It has less problems and they still have to find missing sides which makes both of these activities so much fun. All of the answers are integers just like the Pythagorean Stack Activity so you can tell the students there are no decimals or fractions. They loved this project and did a great job. The room was buzzing with activity as they worked in their groups helping each other.

(Not drawn to scale)

     I did add in numbers for each of the triangles to make it easier to grade. On the other activity if they didn't number the triangles it was difficult to follow. I know a black and white version would print better but the colors cover up a multitude of mistakes on my diagram. Believe it or not I used Word to make this. My son just looks and me and rolls his eyes and says, "Mom why don't you use paint for that?" I guess I'm just old school. What can I say.

     This year I plan on using both activities with my Pre-Algebra as I have many struggling students in these classes as well. 

     My Pythagorean Stack post is one of my most popular posts so I'm hoping that many of you will find this to be fun to use in your classes as well. Enjoy!

Download file here:   Pythagorean Short Stack

Til next time,



  1. My Algebra kids always mention "Pythagorean Stacks" as one of their favorite activities, but, like you, I knew it would be too much for my inclusion kids. This is perfect!
    I decided at the last minute to renew my National Board Certification this spring, and I have to do a classroom video. I want to video from the beginning of my Pythagorean Theorem unit, and I plan to include this activity in my recording!

    1. I give you so much credit for getting you National Board Certification. It is something that I never had the time to do. Good luck. I'm so happy that your kids like the Pythagorean Stacks and would love to hear how the Short Stacks activity works with your inclusion kids. I'm honored that it will be part of your National Board certification:)

  2. Is there an answer key for the short stack? I have solved it and am getting a decimal answer for the hypotenuse for #6. I plan to use it in our inclusion math class and I, will be taking over the teaching for an observation. Thanks in advance!

    1. We just did it today, and the hypotenuse/diagonal for #6 is not needed. I think that's why it's not drawn in. Students just need to recognize it's a rectangle and use the fact that opposite sides are congruent to get what they need for #7 and #8. We got that the final side in #8 was 35.

    2. Thanks Mickie for answering this. I haven't checked my blog in a couple days. Hope your kids enjoyed the puzzle!

  3. i tried to make it with the right scale but it is not working. any ideas why?

  4. Hi im a teacher and i would like a copy of the answers just to make sure.


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