All week long I’ve been asking Connor, my 9th grade son, what he has been working on in coordinate algebra. Here’s a snippet of a recent conversation:

- Me: So, Connor, what have you been working on in your coordinate algebra class?
- Connor: We’ve been graphing.
- Me: Graphing what?
- Connor: Graphing different lines.
- Me: What kinds of lines are you graphing?
- Connor: Ummmm…
- Me: Are they linear functions.
- Connor: Yeah, there are linear functions, but we also do curves…
- Me: Like what kind of curves?
- Connor: Umm… exponents
- Me: Ok. Anything else?
- Connor: Umm…
- Me: Hey, I want to show you something. . .

Versions of this conversation happened several times this week. Due to soccer practices, games, homework, and * Life* in general, we never got much past Connor’s last “Umm…”

Until yesterday! The conversation changed a bit:

- Connor: We did something cool in class today.
- Me: Oh, yeah? What was it?
- Connor: We had to build a picture using graphs of different lines. We built a shamrock.
- Me: That’s what I’ve been meaning to show you all week. Go grab my laptop.
- Connor: (playing game of war on an ipad) But I finished my homework.
- Me: Just take a look at this for a few minutes and see what you think.
- Connor: (heavy sigh)

Enter Des-Man from Desmos. Once he had gone through the tutorial, he was hooked. . . for a while! He engaged in this for about 2 1/2 hours. When he wanted to make something happen, but didn’t know how, he would come to me and ask. We’d figure it out together. The best part of this whole experience was when he realized he knew how to create something on his own and went to his math work from class as a reference.

Fast forward to 2 1/2 hours later, when Connor finished his Desman.

To see the picture in detail along with the equations Connor used to create this graph, click Connor Face Graph.

It didn’t stop there. I had some tabs open and clicked on one with the In-N-Out Burger task from Robert Kaplinsky. He was curious enough to work through it even after all of the Des-man work. So, I showed him more by clicking on the Open Middle tab (also from Robert Kaplinsky). I selfishly pulled up the task that I wrote in collaboration with Graham Fletcher called The Greatest Difference of Two Rounded Numbers. After making sense of the problem, and a lot of eye opening moments that led to phrases like “Oh, I can make it larger!” He got what he thought was the final answer and we validated his reasoning by clicking on the answer. A slight smile!

So, we’re looking at close to 3 hours of after homework math investigation that ranged from rounding numbers to graphing equations, and solving problems. Sounds like a great evening to me. Great conversations and fun while learning and reinforcing mathematics understanding! What could be better? Talking Math With Your Kids – High School Edition.

Feed the hunger of all ages!

More with Connor: Real Math Homework and Real Learning