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Using Geometer's Sketchpad & its dynamic manipulatives as assistive technology - Clinton P.S. spotlight

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Using Geometer's Sketchpad & its dynamic manipulatives as assistive technology - Clinton P.S. spotlight

Terry Lwin, who teaches a Junior Gifted class at Clinton P.S. wanted to challenge her students using Geometer's Sketchpad. And as part of the "I have Assistive Technology in My Classroom, How do I use it for Math?" Ms Lwin and itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu explored and adapted a GSP Math activity that would allow for individual student creativeness within strict and prescribed guidelines of how artists draw a face.

The result was a Math and Art lesson which allowed for students to learn new functions and tools of GSP as well as be able to demonstrate their understanding of percentage on both the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard and individual computer.

Ms. Lwin, Junior Gifted ISP teacher, leads the class discussion to examine whether a students' drawing met the artist specifications listed. An example, "The distance from the hairline to the eyebrows is one-third the length of the face."

For the action part of the lesson, students use the various GSP tools - line segment, marker tool, point and compass tools to create a face design. A set of instructions listing how each part of a face relates to the entire face is given to them. They use the "sticky percent ruler" tool to judge the accurateness of their digital drawings to check if they met the design specifications to create their faces. Ms Lwin's students learn and explore percentage in a linear form for the first time. They also compared different kinds of percentage rulers and judged which tool was the most appropriate to use.

To extend her students' understanding of mathematical concepts and a simple transformational feature of Geometer's Sketchpad, Ms Lwin challenged her class to create half a face based on the same set of design specifications eg. "The distance from the chin to the bottom of the nose is  25% of the length of the face." Students then learned how to create and assign a mirror line in GSP and then reflect the one half of their face creation in order to make a symmetrical whole drawing.

This student's sketch highlights the dynamic nature of Geometer's Sketchpad. Once a mirror line is selected and an image is reflected, a student can move one half as far away or close to the line of reflection and the program maintains the relationship. The dynamic nature of GSP allows for students to explore many different kinds mathematical concepts without having to construct and reconstruct examples in a time consuming manner. 
Ms Lwin says her students enjoyed extending their knowledge of GSP. She particularly liked how easily students were able to create and explore their drawings in relation to percentage of a whole using the linear "sticky percentage ruler". Each students' drawing was unique yet still were able to compare the artist proportions if they met the set of mathematical requirements they were given.

AT to support communication and comprehension in Math 

Assistive technology team members Valia Reinsalu and Etienne Mercieca, who are itinerant teachers, present at the Ontario Association for Mathematics Educators (OAME) conference at Humber College on May 8 as part of the annual three-day Spring Conference.  Ms Reinsalu and Mr Mercieca will share strategies and tools for differentiated using the interactive whiteboard and its peripherals. They will also present ways that the Ministry Licensed software Geometer's Sketchpad (GSP) used in the above lesson, can be used to support all kinds of learners as assistive technology.

Building Mathematical Mindsets is the theme of this year's OAME conference. Some information about the conference can be found at: http://oame2015.ca/.

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