Developing the use of GSP

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Developing the use of GSP                                                                                          Barry Orr

In my classroom I often used Geometer’s          common features emerged from a great                   intercept changes as the function
Sketchpad (GSP) as a visualisation tool          deal of time spent working with the                    changes. This provided students with
and thought it could be used as a                software, developing sketches, and                     a visual image they could easily recall
pedagogical tool to support the learning         considering subsequent feedback from                   to support them in later lessons. The
and teaching of mathematics. I would             colleagues.                                            function generator part of the sketch
need to develop my skills both in the use            The common features included:                      provided a random function and an
of the GSP software, and planning for its        • the use of ‘sliders’ to control variables            endless number of questions.
place in my classroom practice. Over a           • layout in a suitable position, so the            •   Reflection – students were able to
year or so I worked at integrating GSP as            teacher would not have to constantly               create their own shapes to reflect and
a tool in my planning, developing                    reach across the board [thus obscuring             change where the mirror line was
‘sketches’ for classroom use with the IWB.           the image from the learner]                        positioned. The reflected image could
     How ‘best’ to deploy GSP is still           • ‘hide/show’ buttons to keep the                      be hidden or shown so pupils could
work in progress, but in lessons pupils              screen clutter free                                see instantly whether they were
have begun to engage with the mathe-             • ‘animation’ and ‘movement’ buttons                   correct. The dynamic shape and
matics, and have enjoyed working with                to highlight important features of the             mirror line allowed the complexity of
GSP to support their learning.                       sketch                                             the question to be change to match
     This feedback from colleagues also          • keeping the sketch dynamic.                          the ability of the class.
using the software included comments                 If GSP is to be used as a pedagogical              During the time that I have been
that:                                            tool, then sketches have to be developed           using GSP with my teaching groups the
• pupils were able to form generalisa-           to support a range of topics over the              response, from students, has been
     tions based on sketches                     curriculum. This takes both expertise and          extremely positive. The fact that colleagues
• dynamic images stayed with pupils, so          time, together with a process underpinned          want to use these sketches, indicates that
     they were able to recall the images         by revision and adaptation following trials        GSP can be a relevant and useful tool to
     later to help them                          in my classroom. Below are comments                support learning and teaching.
• normally quiet pupils 
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: The common features included: * the use of 'sliders' to control variables * layout in a suitable position, so the teacher would not have to constantly reach across the board [thus obscuring the image from the learner] * 'hide/show' buttons to keep the screen clutter free * 'animation' and 'movement' buttons to highlight important features of the sketch * keeping the sketch dynamic.
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