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.

Doctor, what am I doing wrong? :))

I was taught to use number line with pencil and graph paper in elementary school. I taught my kids to add and subtract positive and negative numbers using number line with pencil and graph paper. WHY will anybody will want to do this on the computer?? Same goes for most of other lessons that I checked on the list – if I am learning geometry, I don’t want a program to divide an interval for me, I want to do it myself so that i can UNDERSTAND how it works and WHY I need circles to do it. Otherwise what is the point of all this?

Comment by Sandra — 2012 March 31 @ 15:56 |

I’m not a huge fan of using digital tools when paper ones do just as well. (I’ve not used Geogebra or Geometer’s Sketchpad myself).

But the digital tools are very handy when pencil and paper would just be tedious. I use gnuplot for graphs all the time, both for my research and when homeschooling physics. I can see a lot of use for Geogebra in teaching geometry, particularly analytic geometry. Although Geogebra is not useful for proving things, it is very useful for exploring geometric relationships, in order to find interesting things that are worth proving.

For a reply that may be more helpful to you, see Dan Meyers’s Five Design Patterns for Digital Math Curricula

Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2012 April 2 @ 13:46 |