Geometry and GeoGebra

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, 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 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.

And thanks to Kate and Sam for teaching me about Scribd.  Maybe this is the solution to my virtual ailments.

11 thoughts on “Geometry and GeoGebra

  1. I just finished this project too! It’s edifying to hear about your experiences with it. Allowing them to use downloaded images is a good idea. The biggest challenge for us was managing all the digital photographs and getting them into their powerpoints.

    Also, your embedded docs look great. 🙂

  2. I read about this on Kate’s blog, and I am excited to use this soon. I hope we have some success with the photos! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love this project. I am curious to see how many days you spent on this. According to the timeline it looks like you spent 4 days: 1 day determing if statements were always, sometimes or nvere true, 1 day taking photographs, 1 day putting albums together, and 1 day for students assess other students’ projects. Is this correct? In the student sample that you provide (which was excellent, by the way) it looks like the images were not necessarily from your school’s campus. Do you think it would be possible just to have the students take pictures on their own time, provided everyone in the class had access to cameras? Also, when students where reviewing other students work, did that count as part of their grade, or did their grade only come from you?

  4. Mary: Ok…I have to admit, my memory is rusty since this is a project from last September, BUT…this is good for me since I’ll be teaching it again in just a few weeks. A bit of background on that class. I was their Algebra 1 teacher and then their geometry teacher. In September, all of them were very proficient on GeoGeba as we used it extensively in Algebra 1, so I didn’t have to take any class time to train them in the program. They also all had it installed on their home computers at that point. So, with a brand new class who has never used GeoGebra (which I will have this year), I’d have to do more hand holding/training around the GeoGebra aspect of the project.

    BUT…with my already trained class, I spent very little class time and this was almost exclusively a homework project. Once they turned it in, we did spend class time, but not much until then.

    I believe this is what I did:
    Day 1: Do the sometimes/always/never questions in class, debate them, but I never gave out “the answers” Afterwards, I passed out the assignment sheet for the photo project and answered their questions. I showed some photos I found on google images as examples of where in the real world they’d see these things.

    They had 10 days (Mon-Fri, weekend, Mon-Fri) to complete the project and could do it alone or in groups. I let them choose their groups since doing it alone was totally fine with me.

    The entire project–photos and geogebra presentation work– was done outside of class. I made myself available after school for tech. assistance. I also allowed students to pull photos from google images if they weren’t able to actually photograph each thing (some didn’t have access to a digital camera).

    When reviewing each other’s work, no, it didn’t count for a grade. They each reviewed the projects of 2 other groups (some groups turned in a power point while others turned in a paper copy). I had them give feedback on each other’s projects using the rubric which is in my blog post. The feedback wasn’t graded, but doing it was part of their daily participation grade.

    Let me know if you have more questions. Allison

    • great project. i would love to do it this year. can you attach some final projects so i can see them. i am thinking if i use powerpoint instead to create the projects. what do you think?
      Day 1: Do the sometimes/always/never questions in class, debate them, but I never gave out “the answers”—can you send me the answers too!
      thank you!

  5. Pingback: I’m so Proud « transformingteacher

  6. Hi, Allison,

    My name is Khushali, and I design curriculum for Relay Graduate School of Education. We are currently working on designing high school math courses for our graduate students that focus on the content and best practices for teaching and assessing content. This post, and the materials presented in them, are wonderful, and we would love to have them in one of our Geometry courses. Would we be able to host these materials, along with a link to the post & appropriate citations, in our online course? If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know! Thank you for your help with this, and sharing such great resources through this blog!

  7. Khushali: Sure. I am happy to have this project included in your course as long as there’s a link to my site and credit given to me, Katherine Williams, and Joey Relaford-Doyle (as those two women are the original authors of the lesson). Would you mind sending me the link to your site when it’s prepared?Thanks.

  8. Hi Allison! I absolutely love this project and plan to use it this year. Can you send me a couple of students’ final projects please? It says there’s an error with the one included here. Thanks so much!

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