Today ends my 3rd week of school. Where the time has gone is a bit of a mystery. But here we are. As the first week drew to a close, I assigned my geometry students their first project. It was met with a few gasps and comments about the fairness of assigning a project on the 4th day of school, but they soon subsided as they learned its details.
A project using GeoGebra? They were hooked.
100% of my geometry students were my Algebra 1 students last year. I am lucky and I know it. We spent a lot of time in the computer lab last year using GeoGebra so beginning the year with a class of students, many of whom know the program better than I do, was a thrill for us all.
I take zero credit for the creativity behind this project. The authors of it are two of my colleagues from PCMI this summer, Katherine Williams, a teacher in Minnesota, and Joey Relaford-Doyle, a teacher in LA. One of the aspects of PCMI I most appreciated was having two uninterrupted hours every afternoon, for three weeks, to collaborate and write curriculum. These two amazing women were part of our geometry group. I too developed geometry curriculum using GeoGebra, but my project is on indirect measurement and similar triangles and will get a test run later this year.
Students were first presented with 10 statements and worked in groups to discuss if they were sometimes, always, or never true.
After sharing in small groups, we had a lengthy discussion about them, looking around the classroom for examples and counter-examples.
They then learned of their mission: using a camera (or images from the internet if downloading photos would be an impossibility), go out into the world and find examples and counter-examples of each statement. Then, upload your photos to GeoGebra and overlay drawings onto your photos to explain how they exemplify each geometric statement. (I somehow didn’t save the assignment sheet I made with my September due dates, so the dates in here were from Joey’s early starting LA school timeline.)
After spending a year with these incredibly talented students, I shouldn’t be surprised at their creativity and persistence in making technology work for them. But I was. They had just a week to produce these projects and it was such a breath of fresh air from our 1970s edition of the traditional geometry proof-alicious textbook we use.
Sharing these wonderful photo books was a bit of a chore. I uploaded them to box.net, reserved the mobile Mac lab, and created a student rubric that they would use to evaluate each page of another student’s book. Great lesson plan, right?
Off we go to open box.net and, um, what the *^$#, it’s blocked by the school’s fire wall. We lost a good 15 minutes while I had to email each project to other students and they downloaded them from their email accounts. So much for digital projects and the sharing of them. If anyone knows how to readily share digital student work in an extremely pro- fire-wall school district, I’m all ears.