Monday, March 31, 2014

Excel and GeoGebra

In Math 371 we spent the day working with Excel and showing its uses in the math classroom particularly with statistics. From working with it, I realize Excel does have quite a few uses in the math classroom setting. We spent time working with the probability and statistics section which worked quite well especially for calculating average, median, mode and all sorts of other types of statistical data. It also had a variety of different charts useful to plotting data. Another uses of Excel is the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet allows students to create formulas that are useful for data. The students can just develop an equation and then copy and paste to put different values into it which make it easy to solve equations. However as a teacher, it is much more useful for students to solve equations themselves and when equations are used it is much more useful to see the graph which Excel cannot do. 

This is one of the major reasons I find GeoGebra to be a better tool for a teacher than Excel. GeoGebra contains both a spreadsheet and a graphing section which allows the formulas to be shown on a graph. This allows students to visualize the concept which is a huge advantage over Excel. The spreadsheet section on GeoGebra does almost all the things the Excel version does that are useful for doing mathematics. I personally found the Excel spreadsheet a little bit easier to use but not enough for me to want to use Excel more due to GeoGebras many other uses. The graphing by itself creates a huge advantage as it allows points to be plotted to create different shapes and figures while also doing a variety of different manipulations to the object such as measuring, translating, dilating, reflecting, and much more useful concepts especially in Geometry. Also after more experimenting with GeoGebra I realized that it does have a slider tool which can be extremely effective for showing how certain changes affect the graphs of lines and other equations. I could find this especially useful when teaching trigonometry as students struggle to understand how different values affect the graph of sine, cosine, and tangent graphs so by using the slider, you can show how different values affect the graph.

Therefore, while Excel and Geogebra both have good uses in the math classroom, GeoGebra’s larger variety of mathematics related concepts gives it a huge advantage in my opinion over Excel. Excel's ability to create formulas seems like a great tool but really I do not see as many uses in the math classroom. The formulas allow students to receive a variety of answers quickly but in the math classroom the process is more important than the solution so it does not have too much of a use. GeoGebra also has the same spreadsheet feature even if it does not have all the same features but the graphing portion of it just makes it a better option to use in the classroom. Plus GeoGebra has an app which allows it to be used on portable devices such as iPads. And one final remark on this concept is that GeoGebra is free to download. Free programs are always a bonus and GeoGebra definitely gives good value for a free program.

By Jayden Streifel