NOTE: The following post, with modifications, was submitted to the California Math Council ComMuniCator for the June 2012 issue with the title: “GeoGebra Promotes Equity in the Mathematics Classroom.“
I had been looking several years for good classroom mathematical modeling software; when I discovered GeoGebra, it was an memorable day. I sat with a laptop in my recliner and didn’t get up for three hours, just playing and exploring. Whatever I asked GeoGebra to do, it did with ease and precision. Since then I’ve used GeoGebra in all my classes, given several conference presentations and workshops for districts, and become a Resource Manager and Trainer for the California GeoGebra Institute.
GeoGebra is well suited to promote equity in the math classroom:

It is free, opensource software

No internet connection is necessary

No programming experience is needed

It is intuitive, userfriendly, and easy to use

GeoGebra has been translated into 52 languages

It can run on all platforms since it is written in Java

There is a version for new/younger learners and users

There is a worldwide network of support from a user forum

It creates multiple representations as equations, graphs, tables

It can be used from primary grades through college level courses
In spite of affordability (FREE) of this software, implementation of GeoGebra is still not widely seen. When a teacher uses a software tool, it is much more likely that students will use it. Here’s my story about introducing GeoGebra in my classroom: I started the program and let students view it using my LCD projector; then I asked a student to come up and sit at my desk. I instructed her to press certain icons to create a diagram, and within two minutes she had stopped listening to me and was running the program on her own – it’s that easy! After giving a basic introduction to the program, all my classes were then able to visit the campus computer lab and create, explore, learn, and play with the mathematics in multiple representations.
Students easily use calculators because they are familiar with the mathematics underlying the keys they press, and so I’ve been able to teach graphing calculator skills and mathematics concepts at the same time. It’s possible to do the same with GeoGebra, since there are few barriers to entry. Teachers accept and promote the use of calculators in learning many concepts in mathematics; we need to promote GeoGebra as well in a similar, but stronger fashion, since the potential for learning is much greater.
GeoGebra was designed specifically for teaching mathematics, and its rich multiple representation environment invites exploring and creating virtual models and simulations. There is a large international support system of educators and an increasing number of articles, videos, books, and readymade materials for classroom use. Those interested in the growing STEM education and collaboration movement will find this technology to be a welcome breath of fresh educational air. To give you an idea of the popularity of this software, there were more than 7 million visits to the main GeoGebra website, www.geogebra.org, in 2011; the visitors came from 226 countries and territories.
We need to provide free and open access to powerful mathematical modeling tools and strong mathematics curricula to all students and educators without regard to age or background. My verdict: GeoGebra is a sure winner, and I strongly encourage all teachers to get comfortable with this software so their students will be better able to develop mathematical minds with this easily accessible and friendly tool. Enjoy!