The Geometry Forum: Constructing Geometry on the Internet - sum95


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Louis Nadelson

When I picked up my first copy of the NCTM Standards it became apparent there were some necessary changes in the way that I was teaching mathematics. I had only been teaching for two years, so I was not entrenched in a paradigm resistant to change. I decided to try some of the new approaches to teaching, including more group work, more applications and increased use of technology. Over the past six years I have radically changed my approach to education, embracing a constructivist approach, empowering my students by providing them with long term open ended assignments that involve the creation of products. This project oriented approach has my students working in groups, conducting experiments, constructing various products (from boxes to bridges) and developing reports on mathematical related subjects. All this is done with a heavy emphasis on the use of technology, and, now that we are networked, the inclusion of the Internet. Although I have taught mathematics from Pre-algebra through Calculus, this is my first year of teaching geometry, so I have a lot to learn about good geometry curriculum.

The following is part of a document that I created in regards to my philosophy in relation to student (educational) us of the Internet.

Access to and exploration of the Internet as an information resource has become a desire of educators everywhere, as it should be. To provide students with access to the Internet, and the plethora of current resources pertaining to a wide range of subjects, has tremendous educational merit. If students have access to the Internet for research assignments they have the opportunity to gather some of the most current information available. This is how most educators view the Internet, as a vast database or library from which students garner information. This use of the Internet has justifiable value, nevertheless, the interaction of the student on the Internet is limited primarily to that of consumer.

Students frequently put many hours in on research assignments, working toward a final product that reflects their learning and understanding of a topic. Students in essence become local authorities of subjects that they have researched. However, once the student has completed his/her project, what happens to their knowledge and understanding or final product? It is usually the teacher alone who evaluates the work of the student, limiting the feedback of student work to the views and ideas of one individual. When student work is shared with a class of peers, the feedback can be expanded to 30 or so individuals, but then what? When asked what they do with their school research projects following completion and evaluation, most students respond by saying they put/throw them away.

One possible solution to these situations is to provide a location on the Internet for students to publish their work. Thus, the role of the student on the Internet moves from consumer to producer, and their work would then be accessible to millions, offering students the potential for feedback from sources world wide. Additionally, student work can become a resource for others, which is potentially encouraging to students because it provides an opportunity for them to do something meaningful with their completed research assignments. Therefore, students will have more incentive to produce quality work while realizing this potential.

Publishing On The Internet

There is an easy, efficient way for students to publish on the Internet, via the World Wide Web (WWW). This system contains documents that includes: pictures, graphics, sounds, text, animation and digital movies. It is accessible to the two major platforms of personal computers, making publishing using this venue highly attractive and widely distributed.

The process of preparing WWW accessible documents is fairly straight forward. The efficient way to prepare WWW documents is to create them in your application of choice and then convert them to a format that is most widely used by the WWW. Therefore creation of WWW publishable documents simply involves the conversion of created documents (text, sound, graphics, pictures, digital video) to the format that is accessible through the WWW using the Homepage concept. Although not difficult the creation of a WWW server and the related documents requires software, hardware, time, organization and maintenance.

There are several educational benefits to having students publish work on the Internet via the WWW system. These include: learning more about geometry topics in depth, involvement in authentic learning, working on meaningful assignments and the ability to communicate ideas using a variety of learning styles. Because of the range of formats (text, sound, graphics, etc.) that documents can include, students are not limited to text. This means a wider range of learning styles and intelligences can be expressed, allowing those students who are not text based learners to participate as fully as their more text oriented peers.

I have taken over one hundred students through the creation of WWW pages. Their products can be accessed by pointing your Web browser toward These are the kinds of projects I plan on continuing to integrate into my geometry curriculum.

- Louis Nadelson

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July 1995