At the end of last year, I was fortunate enough to connect with Aniceta Skowron: the person behind Geometro. The Grade 6’s just finished a math unit on 3-D figures, and so when the principal shared information with us on Geometro, the timing was ideal. Since Aniceta came and worked with the students, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about her product. We’ve emailed to discuss different collaboration options, and I’ve been contemplating the numerous values of this one tool.
OUR AWESOME SHAPE! http://t.co/Z2qdE7DLLx via @PicCollage pic.twitter.com/e5cDXaC4RG
— Miss D & Miss B (@6dand6b) June 13, 2013
Here are my thoughts:
- Geometro is a perfect manipulative to use when studying two-dimensional shapes or three-dimensional figures. Students can work with the tool to create their own shapes. The individual pieces are also large enough for them to easily manipulative regardless of any fine motor difficulties. Not only can students build with these shapes, but they can discuss vertices, sides, angles, and symmetry. They can also use different shapes to create other ones (e.g., using triangles to create squares) to see the connections between the shapes. The possibilities are endless!
- Geometro is perfect for inquiry in math. When I used this tool with my Grade 6’s last year, it only took a couple of minutes to get them talking and asking questions. They were problem solving as they moved pieces around, worked with each other, and explored different options. All year long, I worked on getting students to communicate more in math, but this was a difficult skill to develop. When using this tool, I saw students communicate in ways I never had before. This summer, after reading Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles In Action and Role Reversal, I learned that standardized test scores often increase with the use of inquiry. I only see data though connecting the use of inquiry with increased results in Language test scores. I wonder if the same is true with math. Using Geometro would be one way to help develop this inquiry in math.
- Geometro does not only need to be used in math. When Aniceta worked with the Grade 6’s, she had students create an object using the manipulatives, and then she had them write the directions for how to create this object. Procedural writing is taught in many grades from 1-8, and what a great connection to procedural writing. When Aniceta did this activity in my class, our time was short, so not all of them finished the writing component. Why not give them more time to build though, take a photograph of the completed work, and then go back and write? For students to see the value in their writing, you could exchange the instructions between classes, and have others build the objects that the students described. Students that struggle with writing, or even Kindergarten students, could orally record their directions. What a fantastic opportunity for oral language development!
- Use Geometro to inspire artistic pieces. Let students build with the tool, and then draw a picture of what they created. What a great way to explore perspective and look at how shapes go together to create objects. Students could even take a photograph of the object that they built and the object that they drew, and then compare the two. They could use these comparisons as a way to reflect on their own artistic skills and set goals for future art projects. This connects to expectations in our Arts curriculum document.
- Use Geometro at the conclusion of an inquiry project. In Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles In Action, students used various ways to show their learning throughout the inquiry process. They could easily use this manipulative to build an object that represents what they learned. Taking things a step further, they could take a photograph and use apps such as DoodleBuddy, Skitch, or Pic Collage to label and explain their learning. Students could also take a video showcasing their creation and explaining their learning. What a great way to create a media texts using low-tech and high-tech tools!
- Geometro works well for multiple grade levels. As someone that’s taught everything from Kindergarten to Grade 6 in one capacity or another, I can see the benefit of this tool across the grades. It’s easy enough to use that Kindergarten students can create with it, but sophisticated enough, to build and discuss objects meant for older students.
- Geometro is perfect for differentiated instruction. As I noticed during Aniceta’s activity last year, this tool works well for all students. It’s meant to be played with, so children can easily manipulative their creations to examine angles, view shapes, and measure sides. It’s a great tactile option for students that cannot just look at the picture in the book or on the photocopied page and know what to create. Instead of guessing, they can take the tool, build the creation, and see for themselves! Moving from Grades 1 and 2 to Grade 6 last year, I realized that all students benefit from the use of manipulatives, and Geometro is a wonderful manipulative!
- Geometro can help scaffold learning. Last year, the Grade 6 students created and mailed out a teapot box as part of a Social Studies and Math collaboration project. I want to do this project again this year, but with different expectations for my Grade 5 and Grade 6 students. While the Grade 5 students can demonstrate their understanding of constructing nets, the Grade 6 students, can show their understanding of surface area and volume. I can see how the students could use Geometro before building their boxes, as an excellent way of experimenting with nets, surface area, and volume.
- Geometro is a great low-tech option. I love using technology in the classroom, and I participated in a couple of technology pilot projects at school last year to see the benefits of using technology to increase communication in math. The problem is that many math iPad apps and computer applications reinforce lower level skills. Manipulatives that allow students to create shapes and build objects are difficult to move on the iPads and computers and often have students making their own links between two-dimensional constructions and three-dimensional realities. Real manipulatives are just better (at least, in my opinion). Geometro allows for two-dimensional and three-dimensional building, and with students easily seeing the connections between the two.
- Geometro is a sturdy, reliable product! This year, I’m teaching a 5/6 class, but I’m also doing prep coverage for JK-Grade 4. I hope to use Geometro as students create media texts and demonstrate their learning through various inquiry projects. If I’m using a tool with over 200 students, I want it to be a reliable one, and this is why I particularly like this tool. It’s easy to use, great to construct with, and a fantastic product!
Instructions for the #geometro6bd building challenge. pic.twitter.com/FcuMY283s8
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) June 13, 2013
In the past, I haven’t used this blog for advertising, and I’m not being paid to advertise in this case either. I have just been playing with Geometro and exploring the possibilities, and I think that they’re worth sharing. Have you used Geometro before? How can you envision using it in your classroom? I would love to hear your ideas as well!