|Meg over at the The Teacher Studio is hosting her Loved that Lesson Linky again! Be sure to click on the image above to find out what some other amazing teacher bloggers have been up to.|
As most of you know, I teach gifted students in an elementary classroom. These students bring a range of strengths and abilities to the classroom each day. It is my job to keep them engaged and learning in ways which meet their unique strengths and needs. About 8 years I was looking for new and interesting ways to integrate technology into the classroom experiences of my students. I had been out of the classroom for over a decade working as an elementary science and technology consultant, so I called on a friend who worked in the math department to get some ideas. Caroline suggested I try the dynamic computer software "The Geometer's Sketchpad" with my students.
I was eager to get started but first I had to have our IT dept. remote install the software on all the computers in our school. Once this was done, we were ready to go! Caroline came to my school and showed my students and myself the essentials of Sketchpad and we were all hooked.
Here is a simple 5 minute video that shows a little bit about the tools in GSP.
My students were hooked, and I have used GSP ever since to teach the majority of my geometry curriculum in both grades 5 and 6.
This year I wanted to do something a little different. We had covered all of the basic shapes, points, lines and angles as well as triangles. I was flipping through my math curriculum document to see what still had to be covered in geometry and realized that students needed to be able to construct nets from three dimensional shapes and they also needed to be able to recognize three dimensional shapes from nets they are shown. My brain got to thinking about having the students use Geometer's Sketchpad to create the nets, and use it's unique ability to animate sketches to have the students transform the nets into their three dimensional counterparts.
In between our first and second visit to work on the animated nets, I realized that students also needed to be able to find the volume of prisms. As I had already taught my students how to find AREA of shapes using GSP, I decided to see how they would do with finding the VOLUME of a square or rectangular prism (again this expectation came directly from the curriculum).
I challenged the students to create a square or rectangular prism for their second animated net, and then increased the challenge by asking them to find the volume of their shape in TWO ways. Geometer's Sketchpad will allow students to select a shape and "measure" the area, volume, length, angle, etc. I like to have students use a traditional algorithm as well so that they can see the two measurements must match, therefore their calculations are correct.
It was great to see the students working diligently at creating their shapes, nets, and calculating volume. All of the students were able to create the shapes, animate them and discover something about their measurements. Some students needed more coaching than others, some needed more time, and some needed the ability to work with a peer, but everyone met with success. Their next challenge will be to find the surface area of all of their shapes!
I love when I can turn a lesson that could be dry and theoretical into something hands on and engaging for ALL my students. If you have never tried Geometer's Sketchpad you can download and experiment yourself for free. There are tons of online tutorials and lots of pre made curriculum materials and student activities. Once you start using it with your students, you'll all be hooked.
|For Getting Started Tutorials click on the image above to go to the Sketchpad Learning Center.|