One of the real "game changing" licenses that we managed to acquire for publically funded schools in Ontario during my stint on the OSAPAC Committee (Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee) was licensing for The Geometer’s Sketchpad. It has the ability to change the way that teachers and students think about geometry (and application to other subjects as well) simply by letting you draw and manipulate mathematical objects on your computer with your mouse. Or, the next step would be an Interactive Whiteboard.
Think back to the good days of pencils and straight edges and you can really get an appreciation for the understanding that this software package encourages. You can just try things and immediately see the results. It really inspires students to explore and just try on geometry for size.
What could make it better? How about an iPad version?
It’s here and available for download for free from here
The application seems to work best in landscape mode and the book icon in the bottom right corner takes you immediately to resources prepared and ready to go with the application. The documentation indicates that it’s ready to take any .gsp files already created with Sketchpad for the Desktop 5 and many Desktop 4 application.
From their descriptor:
"Sketchpad Explorer includes iPad®-specific activities and workbooks for:
• elementary mathematics (Grades 1-6)
• early algebra (Grades 7-9)
• geometry (Grades 9-10)
as well as full access to many mathematical documents hosted on the Sketch Exchange community site and across the web. Users of The Geometer’s Sketchpad can also create and share documents with and for their iPad using iTunes® File Sharing."
Details about how to manipulate the screen objects is available at the Dynamic Geometry website here.
What impressed me was the ease with which objects on the screen can be manipulated with your finger or a stylus. There was no real additional learning and it was just so easily used.
If you’re using The Geometer’s Sketchpad in your classroom and have an iPad, you’re going to want to download and enjoy this application right away.
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