Saturday, April 18, 2015

GeoGebra Project

I've done this GeoGebra project in my Geometry class for the quadrilaterals unit the past few years and it's been really fun.  The project is to make the following quadrilaterals on GeoGebra:  Parallelogram, Rhombus, Rectangle, Square, Kite, Trapezoid and Isosceles Trapezoid.  Here's a link with the assignment and rubric:  Project.  We go to the lab 3 times to complete this project.  Most students finish within the 3 period allotted time, but some work on it outside of class.  I always make it due the day of the test because I believe that working on the project helps them study.
We do a lot of GeoGebra throughout the school year, but I've found that students need some guidance with what tools will be helpful to make these shapes.  The first thing I have students do when we get to the computer lab is this tutorial.  By going through this GeoGebrabook to practice making parallel lines, measuring, perpendicular bisectors, and reflections, it give students an idea of what they'll be doing to make quadrilaterals.  In fact I often see students referencing the tutorial throughout the project.  It's also convenient when a student asks a question like "how do I measure an angle inside the quadrilateral instead of outside?" to be able to direct them to the tutorial instead of reteaching the measuring tool.
I lay out some guidelines for what students should be accomplishing each day we're in the lab (Day 1: parallelogram, Day 2:  rhombus, rectangle and square, Day 3: trapezoid, isosceles trapezoid and kite).  We talk about Math Practice Standard 1:  Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.  This is a challenging project.  Students don't have much guidance or direction for how to make these quadrilaterals.  The whole point of the project is that they figure it out.  Because students are figuring out the project and deciding which tools work and don't work, figuring out the parallelogram takes longer than the rest of the shapes.  On the 2nd day I post a youtube video for how to make a parallelogram.  If students spent one whole period trying a parallelogram and still can't get it, I want to give them some directions so that they have a foundation to complete the rest of the shapes.  I also want to be cautious about students getting to frustrated and giving up.  After they've made the parallelogram, they get a lot more confident about the rest of the shapes.  About half way through the 2nd day when students are struggling with the rhombus, I give a hint.  I suggest that students try building their shape from the inside out. Start with the diagonals and build the 4 sides after (or start with 2 sides, then do the diagonals, then finish the shape).
I know that some students go home and look up how to create these shapes online.  I'm ok with that.  If they're looking it up, they're still learning how to create these shapes, and they're still responsible for making them on their own.  In the past I've added a test question "Give step-by-step directions for how to make a parallelogram."  This shows me who understood the tools and how to use them to make a quadrilateral vs. who copied steps from an online source.  Students often ask if they can make a square with the regular polygon tool.  I say yes.  They've found a tool that makes the problem easier, but they still have to measure and show me all of the properties of a square.
Another helpful idea is to give students examples of a shape the looks like a parallelogram but is not a parallelogram and one that is a parallelogram.  I show the example of what isn't a parallelogram and we use the rubric to see how a student would be graded who didn't meet all of the requirements.  Students use these links throughout the project as a guideline to make sure they're fulfilling all of the requirements of the project.
One idea I've thought about, but not incorporated yet, is adding a creative element to the assignment.  One year I had a student paste random pictures (Justin Bieber, a lawn mower, a goat, etc) into each of her shapes.  It was fun and funny to grade.
My favorite thing about the project is hearing students teach each other how to create each shape.  They are very proud of accomplishing the project and are more than willing to share their expertise with their peers.
Do you use GeoGebra with quadrilaterals?  In what ways have you found the software to add value to this unit?

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