Wednesday, April 23, 2014

General Tech Tool: Geometer's SketchPad & SketchPad Explorer for iPad

Geometer's SketchPad is a tool I was first introduced to a few years ago, but shied away from because I had no prior knowledge and limited technology available to me at the time. While I still have yet to implement this in the classroom, it is one of the tools I am looking at using for next year as we build a more blended-PBL classroom style of teaching at our school. Since I am not as familiar with this tool, I will leave it to a classmate of mine, Terry C. to explain and evaluate. I'll cover the iPad version after!

Original CEP Post

Specific Math Activities using Geometer's Sketchpad (GSP)


Curator: Terry C

Name of Tech Tool: The Geometer's Sketchpad (GSP)

Brief Description of Tech Tool: The Geometer's Sketchpad is a dynamic, interactive software that supports the teaching of mathematics through the creation, visualization, and manipulation of geometric shapes, mathematical models and graphical representations relevant to geometry, algebra, and calculus. The software is developed and sold by McGraw-Hill Education.

Additional Information

A multitude of resources, ranging from lesson plans and activity guides to tutorials and professional development/training sessions are available for Geometer's Sketchpad.

McGraw-Hill Education maintains several sites that offer tutorials on how to use the software, free classroom activities, and an online community to share new ideas on how to use Geometer's Sketchpad in the classroom:

A community of Geometer's Sketchpad users have also posted their own lessons and activities for the software on the web:

Numerous videos and video tutorials for Geometer's Sketchpad are also available on YouTube:

System Requirements

For Version 5:
Windows system requirements:
Pentium-based system or equivalent
Windows XP or later
300 MB free disk space
Optional: Internet connection*, Adobe® Reader or Adobe Acrobat®

Macintosh system requirements:
Intel-based system (Note: PowerPC users may use Sketchpad Version 5.04 or earlier, available on the download page.)
Mac OS 10.4 or later
300 MB free disk space
Optional: Internet connection*, Adobe® Reader or Adobe Acrobat®

  • An internet connection is required for downloading Sketchpad 5, deregistering Sketchpad 5, and watching Sketchpad Movies.

Geometer's Sketchpad currently is not compatible with iPads and Android devices. Sketchpad Explorer is available as a free iPad app in the iTunes store.

SketchPad Explorer
Curator: Kristen (Me)

Overview: SketchPad explorer is the iPad version of Geometer's Sketchpad. While it does not have all of the same capabilities, it does provide a good amount of activities to explore using this dynamic modeling software. 

Technical Costs & Considerations: Aside from owning or having access to an iPad, there is no cost to download this app. 

Additional Information: I have downloaded the SketchPad Express app and find that I am very much enjoying it and the flexibility it gives me to model mathematics and to play with the modelings they provide. This is a great resource to take advantage of the Representing and the Automating affordances of technology. The app is easy to use and a free resource for you to use in your classroom. After following a brief tutorial and exploring some of the cooler features of mathematics that SketchPad can demonstrate, you get the opportunity to browse through the library and find various activities already created just for this app. Topics include:
  • Elementary Mathematics
  • Geometry: Constructions
  • Geometry; Ellipse Constructions
  • Algebra: Dynagraphs
  • Algebra: Slope
  • Sketch Exchange Community Site
    • The Sketch Exchange Community site allows you to browse lessons created by other SketchPad users that are specifically geared toward use with the iPad app. Simply browse with the appropriate search, and you'll find a vast treasury of activities to use.

How this Supports & Supplements PBL/PrBL:

Geometer's SketchPad and it's iPad counterpart SketchPad Express both provide a dynamic workspace that allows students to get visual and study geometry synthetically (without coordinates), while manipulating their ideas to round out their reasoning. With Geometer's SketchPad, you have more freedom to create your own models than with the Express version, but the Express version has some very interesting lessons that require critical thinking and analysis to truly gain an understanding. In my opinion, I like Geometer's Sketchpad best for PBL because it allows for the user to create more independently and to model and play with their own thinking to draw conclusions. However, I like SketchPad Express a lot for PrBL as it provides solid lessons that are truly inquiry based placed into a dynamic environment where students can manipulate the tools and build their thinking.