Home' Teacher : November 2010 Contents A major split which educators -- maths
teachers in particular -- need to be wary of
is the division between 'users' and 'develop-
ers.' This is so familiar it's hard to realise
that it was not the original vision of pioneer-
ing luminaries such as Kay, who realised
that literacy in this new 'meta-medium' of
software required above all the capacity to
create, to construct simulations. The genius
of his work is in constructing such environ-
ments for children.
The 'I just want to use it' claim heard
in many educational quarters sounds like
a common sense view for busy teachers,
not to mention a realistic assessment of the
inaccessibility of many systems. For maths
teachers, however, accepting an 'I just want
to use it' approach too u ncritically can
mean selling short the potential of a power-
ful way of thinking that has strong parallels
and applications in their domain; a parallel
world of fu nctions and variables, abstrac-
tions and process. Revisiting the music
analogy, we wouldn't want our music stu-
dents to think only professional musicians
could make music, since it's technically
challenging and professionals are so much
better at it, or that our music students' sole
role in the digital world is to learn how to
download and play back digital recordings.
We must find ways to keep the role of ICT
construction open and, in maths above all,
avoid being limited to a 'music apprecia-
GeoGebra and Mathletics
It's more than we can examine at depth here,
but one way that Mathletics is enabling ICT
construction is through a new partnership
with GeoGebra. The GeoGebra software
is familiar in many quarters as a powerful
method for allowing teachers and students
to construct their own exploratory models,
blending dynamic geometry, computer-
assisted algebra and spreadsheets.
The collaboration with Mathletics allows
a useful blend of approaches. One of the ini-
tial approaches is a series of printed work-
books that will have a parallel online ver-
sion that will allow interactive diagrams and
formulae to be embedded. Initially, the user
interface is simple and intuitive. For example,
a graphical diagram of simultaneous equa-
tions is easily animated to show the general
case for any two linear equations, which
can be interacted with by dragging intercept
points. Materials for interested teachers and
students to download and use to deconstruct
the interactive, and to explore related ideas
by making their own models, will also be
The overlap of ICT with traditional
mathematics is very evident in GeoGebra;
visualisation can more powerfully expose
mathematical relationships and properties
in the workbook format. It can also develop
a new way of understanding mathematics,
and new and deeper approaches to model-
This partnership with GeoGebra rep-
resents one way Mathletics continues to
develop the literacies that ICT enables,
especially where they overlap with mathe-
matics, combing a 'low entry' intuitive-use
approach with a 'high ceiling' build-your-
own approach. It also ensures that the user/
expert division, which is useful in its place,
remains fluid, just as student-centred and
teacher- centred approaches ought to be. T
Rob Costello is a curriculum developer at
3PLearning, the home of Mathletics.
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