On one of the e-mail lists I subscribe to, parents were asking about tools for teaching math to “visual-spatial” kids. Let’s ignore the controversy over whether learning styles should be associated with students or with topics, and treat the question as one of finding particularly visual approaches to teaching math.
Geometer’s Sketchpad was mentioned as was Geogebra. From what I’ve seen in teacher blogs, Geogebra has much more traction in the math teacher community, because it is free (while Geometer’s Sketchpad costs $30 for the student edition), and there has been a lot of sharing of teacher-created lessons.
I’ve not used Geogebra, but there seems to be a lot of stuff online:
- Tutorials for learning how to use the features of Geogebra
- Useful constructions using Geogebra
- Collection of lessons using Geogebra
Note that none of these is a full math course. Geogebra is intended as a tool to supplement learning, not a replacement for a standard math curriculum. Still, there are a lot of lesson plans using Geogebra available, at all levels from elementary school through college math, so finding materials to make a math course more visual and interactive should not be hard.
Less often done, but probably more valuable for “mathy” kids—having a student learn to program Geogebra applications would also strengthen their algebra and geometry. Perhaps when my son has some spare time (not until June, probably), I might have him look into learning Geogebra. There do seem to be a few things he can do with it that would stretch his math skills a bit.