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Using Geometer's Sketchpad to support student learning - Math & AT project spotlight: Lawrence Heights Middle School

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Using Geometer's Sketchpad to support student learning - Math & AT project spotlight: Lawrence Heights Middle School

At Lawrence Heights Middle School Home School Program teacher Anita Derubeis wanted to have her students actively explore and construct fractions in a number of ways to reinforce their understanding. So, as part of the "I have AT in my class, how do I use it for Math?" project, Derubeis and itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu co-created a three-part Math lesson using Geometer's Sketchpad (GSP). It was the first time that Ms. Derubeis and her students would use GSP. However, the possibilities to scaffold learning through the use of digital tools and manipulatives and the use of hands-on tech was something Ms. Derubeis knew her HSP students would be up for the challenge.

Minds On
During a previous lesson, Ms Derubeis' class used an activity from the Ontario Education Resource Bank - interactive multimedia lesson about fractions: Pizza Pete. During the Minds On GSP lesson, concepts and vocabulary around improper fractions was reviewed using a screenshot of the OERB lesson as a visual reminder and springboard to discussion.

During Minds On, teacher can customize pages bringing in images and using GSP's text, shapes and drawing tools - in the same way they use an Interactive Whiteboard.

Also during the Minds On, students were introduced to the features and tools of GSP including the specific custom tool for the lesson: halves, thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths. In the photos below a student uses the thirds tool to create an improper fraction using the number line model. She used the text tool to properly label her drawing. The custom "thirds: tool supports fine motor and accuracy for the student who is able to easily and quickly represent her understanding in a visual way.


Students were given a problem "Would you prefer to get 7/4 or  9/10 of a pizza?" and asked to use the GSP tools to share their thinking in a number of ways. They used GSP's segment straightedge, compass, text and marker tools to create drawings to demonstrate their thinking.

Ms. Derubeis' students are also part of the EQAO pilot project - using Read and Write Gold. During the Math lesson students used the word prediction and screen reader tools to support the clarity of their written answer.
To consolidate the lesson, Ms Derubeis had students share, compare and reflect on their responses. She addressed misconceptions and continued their work in the area of fractions.

One of the main goals of the Math & AT project is for teachers to develop and plan exciting ways to use their assistive technology to deliver math curriculum through differentiation and engagement. Lessons are designed to provide students with opportunities to use assistive technology to demonstrate their understanding of mathematics concepts. Thanks to Ms. Derubeis for a successful lesson using Geometer's Sketchpad. 

Ms. Derubeis (right) shares strategies and tools in GSP with observation Math & AT
project teachers Ms. Reiken (left) and Ms. Reid (middle).

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