Having spent the last twenty years of my career working on The Geometer’s Sketchpad, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the substance of Jeff Hall’s presentation comparing Sketchpad and GeoGebra. But I will say that I came out of the session reflecting on two related issues that I consider much more important than a feature-by-feature comparison.
- How do we bring the benefits of general-purpose interactive mathematics tools into as many classrooms as possible? Even when computers are readily available, it’s a challenge for many teachers to adopt the technology. How can others who see the value (whether fellow teachers, department chairs, or supervisors) support those who are reluctant, convince them that the use of such software is not an optional enrichment activity, but is essential to developing students’ mathematical reasoning? What features of the software itself help or hinder this effort?
- Related, how can we use such tools most effectively in developing students’ reasoning and sense-making, and how can we encourage students to incorporate the tools into their own mathematical repertoire, to turn to the tools on their own when they want to investigate a mathematical question? How can we best use them to stimulate students’ curiosity and to encourage them to write about and reflect upon the math?
Jeff’s session wasn’t designed to address either of these questions directly; I’m raising a different issue than the one he undertook.
But I do think these are the most important issues, and at the same time more difficult to address. Nobody has the answers, but I would certainly love to attend a session next year presented by someone with experience acting as a change agent, describing both successes and difficulties in related to these related issues. How can we best encourage reluctant teachers to use such tools and to use them most effectively in developing students’ reasoning and sense making? Any takers?