Integrating Digital Technologies for Spatial Reasoning: Using Google SketchUp to Model the Real World

Integrating Digital Technologies for Spatial Reasoning: Using Google SketchUp to Model the Real World

D. Craig Schroeder (Fayette County Public Schools, USA) and Carl W. Lee (University of Kentucky, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4086-3.ch008


The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics include mathematical practices for modeling and also references to the appropriate use of technology. Several new dynamic programs can be leveraged using Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) to enhance the conceptual and practical knowledge of students. The authors used Google SketchUp to develop understandings of 3-dimensional shapes and models. In the successful project, middle school students were introduced to the program, given small challenges, and then, as a culminating project, asked to model rooms within their school. The result was an exact replica of the schoolrooms and a project that could be used for virtual tours. This type of project-based learning can be implemented in most classrooms, even those in which the instructor has limited knowledge of SketchUp. Students were actively engaged throughout the instruction and were able to work with their peers and develop practical mathematical skills.
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As we move into the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) era teachers are being asked to review and revise their instructional approaches to many common mathematical topics. Simultaneously the last two decades have seen a rapid advance in accessible technology for the masses. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) is an essential construct for teachers to successfully implement technology into their classrooms. Not only will today’s students emerge into careers that use technology, they will be required to assimilate creative thoughts and develop new technologies of their own.

Teachers often use new technology devices in the same pedagogical way they used the old technology devices—for instance, a document camera used in the same way as a chalkboard, or an iPad used to read a text rather than a hard copy. These uses result in no difference in the way students are pedagogically instructed and thus the same achievement levels in student learning result. Moving beyond these typical instructional styles requires creativity and the leveraging of technology to present “old” topics in a new, more pedagogically sound way.

The purpose of this book chapter is to provide a rich example of developing spatial reasoning in middle school students, especially the 2- and 3-dimensional relationship, through the use of Google SketchUp ( in a real world context.

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