Four years ago, my colleague Scott Steketee and I began brainstorming new Sketchpad activities for a National Science Foundation grant called Dynamic Number. Our goal was to use Sketchpad to make ideas from number, operation, early algebra, and algebra come alive through interactive models that emphasized conceptual understanding.
Scott and I had lots of help. We piloted activities in classrooms across the United States, including New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and California. Our fantastic team of teachers not only tested and critiqued our draft lessons, but they also offered ideas for entirely new Sketchpad models based upon their understanding of where their students could benefit from a dynamic approach.
Now, four years later, we are ready to debut our materials. As you can see at right, our range of topics spans from addition and subtraction to algebra. The Dynamic Number website offers 70 free activities, and all you need to use them is either The Geometer’s Sketchpad or its companion app, Sketchpad Explorer for the iPad. (Update: Many of the Dynamic Number activities are now available for use in your web browser with no need to install Sketchpad. See here.)
I’m especially happy with the level of support we’ve been able to provide. The activities include extensive teacher notes, worksheets, and explicit connections to the Common Core. You’ll also find more than eight hours of professional development movies that describe the mathematics and pedagogy of each lesson as well as the simple mechanics of using the Sketchpad models.
I could write more about the Dynamic Number project, but instead I’ll conclude with the short video below that takes you on a tour of some of our most intriguing Dynamic Number models. If you get a chance to try any of our activities, be sure to send us some feedback. We’d love to hear what you think!