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Topic: TI83 Graphing Calculator Online

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Subject:   RE: GSP - (was TI83 Graphing Calculator Online)
Author: Alan Cooper
Date: Aug 20 2005
On Aug 20 2005, MarcJL wrote:
> I am a second year teacher about to teach geometry for the first
> time. . . .
I would suggest that on the first time teaching something it is best to avoid
any factors that may interfere with your ability to observe how students are
relating to the actual intended course content.

Such observation may lead to ideas for how to develop and use tools and
activities directed towards overcoming actual areas of difficulty (rather than
ones that might be imagined a priori), and as you proceed you may see areas
where a dynamic construction might help some students. With luck you may find
what you are looking for here in MathTools, or by asking colleagues either in
person or on discussion boards like this. If you are technically adept and a
quick learner you may evven find time to learn enough about GSP or some other
tool to build what you need if it is not already available, but doing that while
dealing with a subjet for the first time is *not* something I would want to take
on myself. And in any case, I would strongly advise against taking on also the
task of teaching students how to use a tool with which you are not yet
completely familiar.

> Does this justify the investment in having kids learn GSP?
Many teachers use GSP themselves to develop demos and activities for students
without actually having the students "learn GSP". Certainly some students may be
able to learn a tool like GSP or Cinderella along with the course material and
will benefit from it, but for others it just adds to the burden and/or causes a
distraction. I believe that such things should never be *required* of students,
but that with experience a teacher can learn to recognize which students might
benefit from the oportunity.
> Should I just use java applets instead?
Many good dynamic geometry applets have been developed with other tools - those
from the IES group in Japan come first to my mind - but it's not actually
"instead" as GSP has a version (called JSP) which is capable of generating Java
applets (which don't require a GSP license on every student's machine).

> Is there some independent benefit for the kids in mastering GSP?
For some, yes; for others, no.

> Is there a big risk of frustration if kids get bogged down in GSP?
Yes (at least for some of them).

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