Monday, January 20, 2014

Geogebra: The Unit Circle and the Reference Angle.

A couple of colleagues of mine have been showing me things in Geogebra.  I tried it this week with a unit circle problem.  It turned out great.  I had each student/pair with a computer in front of them.  We went over the Unit Circle and the students used the laptop or iPad to maneuver around the GeogebraTube post that I had made.  My colleague called this COMPANION Technology.  (They used it with their learning) Many of the students started out using the digital Unit Circle and manipulating it.  However, as time went on, many stopped using the digital technology and just did the work in their head or on paper. There was a homework assignment that involved the digital Unit Circle that I had made in Geogebra.  About half of the students ended up needing it.  The next day the unit circle questions and discussions were amazing.  They really had a conceptual grasp of it.
Here is the link to the  to see the unit circle geogebra worksheet.  Please note the questions at the bottom of the page.

Steps I took to get this up and running.
1.  Download Geogebra to your desktop.
2.  Make an interactive Geogebra File.  (see intro to geogebra youtube:  I used this video to help me:
3.  Save the file to a place where you can remember to retrieve it.
4.  Go to  You will need to login.
5.  Upload your file to Geogebratube and fill in all needed information.
6.  Get the link of your upload and distribute it to your students.

I hope you can give Geogebra a try,


Mark Nelson said...

Greetings Mr. Sladkey,
I am commenting on your blog as a part of my University of South Alabama EDM310 assignment. My name is Mark Nelson and I am originally from a small rural mining community in North Alabama. I am a retired professional land surveyor and, after years of construction surveying, I felt a need to do something more meaningful in my life. Hence, I have returned to school to pursue a degree in secondary education/mathematics. The following is a link to my EDM310 blog site and a link to the EDM310 class blog site Please stop by sometime and say hello. Also, on the 9th of February I will be making a summary post to my blog page detailing my visit to your site.

Now that I have the introduction and housekeeping is out of the way, on to the fun stuff. Math!
Ah, the unit circle. So being the stereotypical math geek that I am, I have to admit that I followed your link to and spent several minutes playing with tool. Okay, so I spent more than a few minutes playing with it but is that not the point, to engage learners. That is pretty cool. I can easily see how that would be useful to visual learners, like me. I also have to admit that at first I was not sure what the term reference angle was referring to, in surveying it meant something different, but shortly figured it out. Which brings me to one of my teaching goals, I would somehow like to bring my real world experience of surveying into the classroom and to help answer the age old question, “When will I ever use math in real life”? I have a few ideas but would enjoy hearing any suggestions you may have.

Dave Sladkey said...

Thanks so much for the comment. It is an excellent field that you are getting into. Your life experiences will bring a lot to the clasroom. What I'm most excited about for you is your passion for the subject. This is very important to convey to your students. I can't wait to hear how your preparations go.
As far as the question of when am I ever going to use this. I love this queston. I get it all the time and most of the time I simply answer it ... 'you won't'. Most of what we are teaching is problem solving skills, deductive reasoning, tenacity, number sense, and logic. I tell them that I took a computer programming class in college that I can't use in the least bit. However, it taught me a ton about all of the things I just mentioned.
Blessings on your journey to inspire young minds,

Navaz Kerawalla said...

I would also like to comment on the "When will I ever use this?" as I am teaching Exponential Expressions. My comment is also the same "probably never" and Algebra is about developing logical thinking, reasoning and problem solving. Most of my students do accept that explanation and will participate willingly in engaging conversations.

Mark Nelson said...

I apologize for taking so long to reply, I've come to find being back in school is keeping me busier than when I worked. I appreciate your honest feedback but I'm still going to look for ways to apply real world settings in the classroom. I have some ideas from surveying and a few from being the son of a farmer/carpenter. My grandfather had very little schooling but knew how to form a 90 degree angle using a string, a tape, and 6, 8, 10. Likewise, he did not know the slope intercept formula but he could take a framing square and build steps to a house. There has to be at least one lesson plan in that somewhere.

Ramsey Willis said...

Hi Dave

This is Ramsey Willis in EDM 510 from the University of South Alabama. I don't know how but I missed this post and based on the others that you've had that introduced me to new math technology, I knew this one would be just as nice. So, I tried it, using your example and I also downloaded Geogebra and will find a way to incorporate it into our curriculum. I will continue to play with it and try to determine what type of lesson plans can be created with Geogebra. If you have any suggestions, I would be happy to hear them. Thanks again for introducing me to this wonderful tool. I look forward to learning much more from you!