Sunday, December 6, 2009

Geogebra - A Tool For All Math Teachers

I have been playing with Geogebra for several hours. It is a wonderful math applet that applies to algebra, geometry, precalculus, and calculus. The wonderful part about Geogebra is that no download is required to use the program. This means that Geogebra can be used anywhere there is an internet connection. There are some great resources on how to learn to use Geogebra within the geogebra wiki and at Math 247.

Geogebra Wiki contains some ready to use activities created by math teachers. Click on the topic that your class is studying and try one of them out. You do not have to be good at geogebra to use these activities. Most of them contain directions right on the activity so that they can be used by students with no knowledge of geogebra.

If you want a better understanding of how geogebra works and would like to create activities for your own class, start at Math 247. There are loads of instructional materials for the teacher, beginning witht the basics.

Do you remember working a problem in Pre-Cal or Calculus in which there is a boat offshore at point S and the occupant needs to get to point Q by a combination of rowing and walking? At what point R should the occupant land his boat in order to get to point Q in the least possible time? Students have a very difficult time with this one. Click on the following link for a great mathcast on the boat landing problem at math 247. The teacher takes you step by step through the problem, completely illustrated by geogebra. Not only is it a great solution, but you will pick up a lot of techniques to become more adept at geogebra.

Below is a very simple geogebra sketch of a parabola. Move the sliders to see the the effects on the graph of f(x) = ax^2+c when the values of a and c are changed. I plan to use this sketch in my algebra class when we begin quadratics.

I found other wonderful resources on Geogebra besides those mentioned above. See Kate Nowak's post on triangle centers and embedding a geogreba sketch into a blog. See Mr. L's Math on geogebra projects with parabolas.

Do you use Geogebra for demonstrations or do you have students construct sketches? Let me know in the comment section.

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Sorry, the GeoGebra Applet could not be started. Please make sure that Java 1.4.2 (or later) is installed and active in your browser (Click here to install Java now)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Five Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom

Google Forms is such a useful tool. Listed below are all the different ways Google Forms can be used by the classroom teacher.

1. Use a Google Form to collect parent and student information such as email addresses, phone numbers, and other general information. The hardest part is deciding what information you want to collect. After that it just takes a few minutes to create the form. Once created, copy the link to the form and post it on your website. Keep in mind how parents and students might respond to each of your questions. For example, when you request a name, you might want to do two separate questions, one for the first name and one for the last name. Otherwise, you might not be able to easily sort alphabetically later.

2. Use a Google Form to collect links from student of projects they have done online. This makes it so easy for grading later. I have used a google form to collect the URLs for student created animotos, glogs, toondoos, and prezi presentations. This cuts down on printing and organizes all of my student work in one spreadsheet. I simply have to click through the spreadsheet for class presentations or for grading.

3. Use a Google Form to survey your students. Perhaps you would like to know who they would like to work with when you are about to change groups. Maybe you want their opinion on a certain activity.

4. Use a Google Form to give a quiz. Write a few questions, post the link to your website and ask students to take a quiz. Be sure to take the quiz first so that the first line of your spreadsheet contains the answers. If your quiz is multiple choice, make it self grading. Click here to see a screencast on how to create a quiz that is self grading. For more information on self grading quizzes, check out Wes Fryer's blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity.

5. Use a Google Form as a sign up sheet for various things. For example, my daughter's band director asks students what kind of sandwich they want before the game via a google form.