Introducing Geogebra

Back in the fall, I was thankful to have a one-on-one training session on Geogebra. A math professor whom I’m in touch with at the University of Nipissing generously offered his time to teach me how to use this free, open-sourced math software. It’s quite versatile and it can be used to create functions and draw geometric shapes.

Unfortunately, I’d forgotten about the software … it had always been on the back of my mind, but as other tasks piled up, it fell down on my priority list. Luckily, in February, all the high school math teachers were asked to attend a Geogebra training session. We were given three hours of “sandbox time” to play around with it and the principal made it a priority to get IT to install it in the computer labs … finally!

The week after my PD, I got my students onto the program right away . As each of our class periods is 50 minutes long, I gave them two short tasks to work on. The first task was quite simple: make a line drawing. Kids picked up pretty quickly on the difference between a line and a segment. They learned how to turn on/off the grid lines and/or the axes. They coloured the lines in, changed the thickness and figured out how to correct their mistakes and save their files.

Here’s one of the products by my student, J.:

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 1.00.03 PM

The second task required making an equilateral triangle. At first, I would just tell students to try making one on their own. Most of them would start with three line segments, and quickly realize that the side lengths vary far too much. Using the cursor, the sides could easily stretch, the side lengths would change and it would no longer be equal lengths on all three sides.

Subsequently, I showed them an easier way – we created two overlapping circles of the same radius, then drew the radii to form an equilateral triangle.

Altogether, our first session was a success. Next year, I will have to build some assignments for them to follow and have tasks that are presented within each of the units.

Extra tip: Some kids are awesome at picking new software up. It’s always a good idea to figure out who these kids are and space them around the classroom whenever you’re doing a new task. They can be great peer mentors and work as an extra helper when you find yourself running all over the place!

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