Learning in new dimensions with Google Classroom and GeoGebra

Editor's note:Mark Kaercher teaches mathematics at Shaker High School in Latham, New York. He is also one of his school district’s Instructional Technology Resource Teachers. Here, Mark shares his experience with using Google Apps for Education alongside GeoGebra, available as an app for Chrome and now as a native Android phone app.

Every so often, over the course of a long teaching career, we find a special tool or resource that makes us wonder how we ever taught without it. Personally, I’ve had a lot of success with GeoGebra, a free mathematics program for teachers and students. GeoGebra lets me build and share interactive worksheets that demonstrate geometry and algebra concepts. Along with relying on it myself, I’ve helped other educators use GeoGebra by creating how-to videos and leading training sessions.
My first GeoGebra worksheet, created in 2011
 So when my school started using Google Apps for Education last year, there was a big question on my mind: Is it compatible with GeoGebra? Not only do they work well together, but Google Apps has helped me get a lot more mileage out of GeoGebra. Instead of just a teaching tool, it’s now become a hands-on learning environment. This has transformed my classroom into a math lab where students use Google Apps and GeoGebra to explore shapes and patterns, complete assignments, and share their work with both me and their classmates.

During a typical class, I start by posting an agenda in Google Classroom to get us all on the same page. Then I might create a GeoGebra assignment and ask students to paste screenshots of their work into a shared Google Docs file.

Everyone has their own Chromebook to use, so they can each work individually in GeoGebra – and they can even save a step by signing into GeoGebra with their Google Apps account. Now, with the new Android phone app my students can create, search, save and share their ideas and homework from their phone, saving to Drive and sharing in Classroom. Meanwhile, I track their progress and grade their submissions in Classroom.
Sometimes I have my students record screencasts of their GeoGebra worksheets using the Screencastify extension for Chrome. They can save their videos to Google Drive and share them with me through Classroom. You can see more about how I do this here.

It’s been really neat to see how beautifully Google Apps and GeoGebra work together to bring my lessons to life. It’s also been exciting to watch my students embrace and learn these new tools – to the point that they’re sometimes the ones showing me how to do something. I was especially proud when some of my students helped me demo Google Apps and GeoGebra at a recent school board meeting, sharing their growing passion for using instructional technology in the math classroom.

I’ll always be a math teacher, but I also see myself as a technology teacher. I want my students to understand that technology isn’t just about taking selfies and sending texts. Now, thanks to GeoGebra and Google, they’re using it to interact with mathematics in a whole new way.