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Cabri Geometry II Plus

  1. Published by Chartwell-Yorke

  2. Maths

  3. KS3,4 and post 16

KS3 Content Evaluation by Peter Thurlow

Cabri Geometry II Plus is an extremely powerful mathematical tool for use in secondary schools and beyond. Users can create dynamic constructions onscreen which can then be manipulated to test predictions and prove rules. The software also lends itself to experimental and investigative activities which would be virtually impossible with traditional geometry sets. Elements of the construction can be hidden or removed, text can be added and the onscreen work area has a useful interactive prompting system which helps students during construction work. Teachers are able to record pupil sessions for future playback and analysis.

Supporting Documentation
A comprehensive manual is included which covers using the software from beginner to degree level and, in this instance, a manual specifically supporting the use of the product in Key Stage 3 was also supplied. All concepts are supported diagramatically in the manuals, and the Key Stage 3 manual has a valuable section which maps suggested student activities to the Key Stage 3 curriculum objectives.

Technical Support
There are no sections on technical support in the manuals. Contact details for Chartwell-Yorke Ltd, the UK distributors, are provided although the website concentrates on sales. A better bet is the French site ( which has a good English translation and a support page with FAQs and worldwide online forum sections. Further contact information is available on this site but it appears you must then speak to the French support team. There is an automatic update button which checks for the newest version of the software and a support email address appears on the packaging.

Curriculum Relevance
Purpose of the Program
Applications of this software are wide-ranging. In this instance the support pack is aimed at Key Stage 3 and is intended to take the physical work out of geometric constructions, leaving the user free to adapt, predict, explore and discover the corresponding mathematical principles. When used along with the Key Stage 3 workbook this is a powerful tool for enjoyable learning, particularly where models can be manipulated and modified instantly onscreen. Calculations and algebraic functions can be processed and modelled as part of the activity, and it also enables students to clearly understand the concepts of plane transformations and the graphical representation of functions.

Curriculum Relevance
Cabri has the capability to satisfy all the geometric requirements for mathematics at Key Stage 3. It is an open-ended tool rather than a structured program, so the planning and control remains very much the responsibility of the teacher. The software tools give students the capabilities to work with a virtual geometry set and a programmable calculator at the same time.

The supporting documentation provides stuctured activities which cover Key Stage 3 expectations for lines, angles and shapes, properties of circles, transformations and constructions and loci. Within the software itself the tools go way beyond Key Stage 3 (almost to the point of confusion) and all the necessary constructional capability is present.

Analysis of Contents
There are no images used with this software. The language is predominantly mathematical, and where instructions are given in the supporting manual these are instructional rather than contextual. The level of language used is appropriate for Key Stage 3.

The software installs easily and quickly.The work area is clearly laid out and tools are easy to use with plenty of onscreen help available. Clicking and dragging of onscreen items is consistent and menus are logical. I was unable to detect any instances of software failure or bugs. The main manual is comprehensive although some of the developmental diagrams are complex – a clear head is required!

It is possible to change settings so that the screen is easier to read and fewer or extra tools can be made available on the toolbar. I could not find a 'profile' option as such, where individual settings could be saved, but it is possible to save preferences to file.

This is a very powerful tool which enables geometric concepts to be easily experimented with and understood. Whilst the accompanying materials suggest it has a place in the primary curriculum I certainly feel that Key Stage 3 is the earliest appropriate place to start, and even then there is a sense of using a 'spaceship to go shopping' as the capabilities of Cabri II go way beyond GCSE. However, the key feature of this software tool is that it enables learning through exploration, which makes it a desirable addition to any maths department's armoury.

KS3 Classroom Evaluation by Peter Garner

Installation & Access
Cabri Geometry II Plus installed on all the computers without any problems. The settings on the monitors did not need to be altered. The software does not have an integral uninstall program but I was able to uninstall it without difficulty by using the Control Panel. The software responded immediately to commands without any delay.

Planning Classroom Use
What This Product Offers
Cabri Geometry II Plus provides an opportunity for all students to readily create quite sophisticated geometrical shapes. These shapes can then be dynamically altered to facilitate the teaching of even the most awkward concepts. The software provides the classroom teacher with a medium that is far more readily accessible than the traditional compasses, paper and ruler method that can be so time-consuming.

The product enables even the more dexterously-challenged student to produce quite sophisticated work and at the same time helps that child to gain an insight into a challenging concept.

The members of my set found the title's capacity to generate intricate shapes and then subsequently manipulate them very attractive. This prompted them to work far more diligently and with a greater attention span than otherwise would be expected with a traditional paper exercise.

In addition, the classroom teacher has access to an excellent tool for use in their classroom teaching. It becomes quite straightforward to create impressive drawings that can be used in the teaching of a whole class via the use of a data projector.

Purpose of Using This Product
The title was appropriate for most of the shape and space component of the National Curriculum for Mathematics. The key teaching and learning objectives of the lessons were to cover the following attainment targets: 'Understanding and using properties of position, movement and translation'; 'Pupils should be taught to enlarge shapes by different scale factors'; and 'Determine the locus of an object using a given rule including the devising of instructions for a computer to produce desired shapes and paths.'

The control icons in the title have both a written label and a pictorial symbol. This enabled those members of the class that are working in their second or even third language to readily access the correct part of the drop-down menu.

Virtually all members of the class were able to launch the software without significant guidance from the class teacher.

Classroom Experience
Classroom Organisation
The members of the class were required to bring laptops to the series of lessons and were seated in their normal order within the classroom. It was a simple matter to pass a copy of the software round the classroom so that the students could independently install it on their laptops' hard-drives. Rather than have the classroom go off task whilst this was being carried out, I arranged for some traditional pencil and compasses work to be carried out.

I introduced the software using the classroom's built-in data projector to take the children through the work I wanted them to do. I provided them with a series of worksheets to complete, some of which were my own and some from the book that accompanies the software. A misconception became evident and this was dealt with centrally, using the data projector to overcome this difficulty. I found it very motivational to have students come to the front of the class and use the whiteboard to show their peers how they completed an awkward problem.

Context of Use
The title fits very readily into the Key Stage 3 curriculum and provides students with a medium for carrying out work that has previously been taught traditionally. In the case of later topics, it was used to build on topics that had originally been introduced using the software itself. However, it was necessary to get the students to carry out a simple piece of work initially, in order to familiarise themselves with the controls and icons that Cabri needs to generate its geometric drawings.

It was very easy to explain to the class why we were utilising the software in the series of lessons. The pupils' ICT experience fitted quite seamlessly into my planning and subsequent teaching of the topics.

Following our use of the title, the class were set an end-of-topic test and a series of homeworks which indicated that they had progressed significantly further than might have been expected.

Ease of Use - Design & Navigation
The pupils were introduced to the software by watching a demonstration using an overhead projector linked to my own laptop. They were also provided with a guide sheet to enable them to access the relevant drop-down menus in order for them to carry out their drawings. Initially there was some confusion between commands but after a relatively short period of time, the class became quite competent with the title's controls. I suggested to the class that if they got into a total muddle they should simply start again, as unlike the equivalent paper exercise, there was no loss of resources or waste generated.

The program is easy to access as one page has numerous drop-down menus, making it quite straightforward for students to select even the most challenging tool within a maximum of two clicks. The icons provided were quite helpful in allowing students to select the correct button. The 'Save' option was readily accessible and reliable. The Help facility was concise and helpful. I always instructed the students to activate Help, as once selected it provided a one-line description of the function they were about to select.

Monitoring & Assessment
The main way in which I monitored the progress of the class was to inspect the students' work that had been produced using the program. In addition, I monitored the students through the normal question and answers session with the questions differentiated to the various bands of spacial ability.

For one prep, students were given the option of completing the exercise using the software or traditonal pen and paper methods, and to their credit the majority chose to utilise the software and, I suspect, spent a longer period of time producing better quality work.

Feedback from Pupils and Other Staff
The general reaction from the class to the software was most favourable, once they had overcome the initial familiarisation period. Although we carried out some serious pieces of work using the software, even now it is not uncommon for a lesson to start with a chorus of "Sir, can we do some fun drawing today on the computer?".

Ease of Use
I found it quite straightforward to master the elements of Cabri Geometry II Plus for classroom use. However, there is a learning period for students using the software and it is advisable to get them to carry out a simple piece of work initially, to familiarise themselves with the controls and icons of the software. If, for example, you choose to revisit a simple concept like showing the angles in a triangle sum to 180 degrees, then the software will still make this a worthwhile learning experience. Each function is a maximum of two clicks away from the main screen, so it was quite easy for the students to carrry out the requisite instructions. The printed Key Stage 3 instruction book which accompanies the title is most helpful and was frequently used as a source of clear worksheets for the students.

Classroom Experience
Cabri Geometry II Plus was used to provide an alternative means for the students to carry out a wide range of shape and space work. They progressed from a straightforward analysis of the sum of interior angles to creating translations involving, for example, negative and fractional scale factors through to fairly sophisticated loci work. Once the students had mastered the software they were keen to use it and seemed to take pride in producing work of a better standard than would have been possible with traditional pencil and compasses.

Although this evaluation only covers Key Stage 3, the software would be suitable for use at Key Stage 4 and above.