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Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre

The GeoGebra Institute @ the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (GI@NMMU) in Port Elizabeth was established alongside the FRF Chair in Maths Education and the Govan Mbeki Maths Development Unit (GMMDU) in September 2011.

The GI@NMMU was the second of its kind in South Africa and is part of a network of such institutes worldwide (www.geogebra.org/institutes) that supports in-service Mathematics educators and facilitate communities of practice around the use of GeoGebra for teaching and learning Mathematics in schools and HE classrooms.

The institute currently represents an important vehicle for ongoing professional skills development of in-service maths teachers in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

Chair of GI@NMMU, Prof WA Olivier

The Main Aims of the GI@NMMU are to:

  • promote the teaching and learning of mathematics in a dynamic and visual way through the integrated use of GeoGebra and similar open-source dynamic graphics maths software
  • support in-service maths teachers to use GeoGebra in maths classrooms and as part of ongoing professional learning community activities.

The following GeoGebra-related in-service teacher development activities took place over the past four years.

GeoGebra regional 2-day conferences:

Successful regional 2-day GeoGebra regional conferences were hosted by GMMDU since 2012. The aim of these conferences, which were held on the South Campus of the NMMU, were to enhance the professional identity of maths teachers, extend their pedagogy of teaching problem-solving and to strengthen their skills to teach effectively in technologically rich learning environments.

Each conference was attended by more that 70 local in-service Mathematics teachers and Dept of Basic Education officials. A number of Maths teachers from outside the Eastern Cape Province attended each year. both local and international plenary speakers, Dr Zsolt Lavicza (Cambridge, UK), Dr Gerrit Stols (UP, Pretoria) and Mr Balasz Koren (Mathematics Institute, Budapest, Hungary), contributed to the conferences over the past years. The sucessful two-days events consisted of structured GeoGebra workshops and academic talks by delegates on the use of GeoGebra to teach Mathematics in the classroom. 

GeoGebra Conference at NMMU in 2012

2013

2014

GeoGebra workshops as part of professional skills development:

Two 1-day GeoGebra workshops also formed part of an accredited mathematics skills upgrade programme (MATHSUP) that was offered to cohorts of in-service Maths teachers on an annual basis since 2011. GeoGebra software and support material was pre-installed on laptops that were distributed to all MATHSUP teahers since 2013. This allowed ordinary MATHSUP teaching venues at training centres to be transformed into computer laboratories for the duration of any GeoGebra workshop sessions.

Since 2011, a number of ad-hoc 1-day GeoGebra workshops were also presented, on request, for groups of in-service Mathematics teachers in various parts of the Eastern Cape Province.

Professional Skills Development Workshop

Pilot GeoGebra User Certification Programme:

A pilot basic GeoGebra user certification programme was presented over five 3-hour afternoon contact sessions in PE during October 2013. Eighteen local educators from schools in PE participated in the pilot certification training.

The aims of the pilot programme were to strengthen conceptual content knowledge linked to key areas of the Mathematics school syllabus and to establish professional learning communities around the use of dynamic graphics software to teach and learn Mathematics. Structured feedback from participating teachers was very positive and informed the GMMDU management of a possible improved format for subsequent GeoGebra certification programmes. These interventions were important as part of desperately needed on-going professional development of in-service Mathematics teachers in the province. The GMMDU is currently in the process of establishing an accredited GeoGebra Basic User Certification programme as an extension of the GeoGebra support programme to complement the accredited MATHSUP programme for in-service Mathematics educators.  

Pilot User Certification programme session

GeoGebra Applets (Windows and Android) for mathematics visualisation and discovery learning:

The value of virtual manipulatives (applets) in mathematics education to explain, demonstrate and discover mathematical concepts is well documented. The proper use of such artifacts could contribute richly to discovery learning and enhanced understanding of mathematical concepts or results. The open source dynamic graphics software programme GeoGebra (for Windows) has attractive functions that allow users to export any GeoGebra construction as a Windows applet for independent use. In 2014 the use of GeoGebra applets on Android Tablets became possible.

This resulted in the development of a series of 40+ GeoGebra applets that are aligned with key results of the Grades 10 - 12 CAPS mathematics curriculum. This added a valuable teaching and learning layer to the core of the content material of the TouchTutorTM mathematics package. The applets were developed for both Android and Windows operating systems to ensure that these virtual manipulatives are available for use by both learners (via Tablets) and teachers (via laptops).

An accompanying series of learner worksheets (DOWNLOAD HERE) linked to the applet series was also developed in order to give structure to teaching and learning interactions with applets. Applet-aligned learner worksheets can also facilitate more meaningful experiences for learners when applets are used during teaching or self-directed learning exercises.

The maths applet series is categorised by Grade level and is easily accessible via the user-friendly menu system of the TouchTutorTM package. A recreational category was added with a series of GeoGebra applets that consist of maths puzzles, demonstrations and popular mathematical constructions. This category was included to expose teachers and learners to the rich variety and creative use of applets to present and manipulate mathse in a visual and dynamic way.

The current applet series will form the basis of a research project in 2015 to determine its value (for teaching and learning) as part of the techno-blended model. A more comprehensive Maths applet series os planned for integration with the professional version of the TouchTutorTM package (due for completion by the end of 2015).