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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