Hi, my name is Mike… and I love using Desmos with students.
This is not a bad thing at all. I’m not giving up time with my family to spend on Desmos. It’s just that whenever I think I’ve exhausted all of the ways to use this fantastic tool with students, the Desmos team adds a new activity or game that I can and want to use right away! These people know how to keep us wanting more!
Now, for all of you teachers out there that haven’t engaged your students in this amazing math tool, let me move from a user to a pusher. 4 reasons why you should use this amazing tool with your students:
- It’s completely free! (not just this first time – all the time)
- It’s a graphing calculator that works beautifully online or as an app for students to Model with Mathematics – SMP 4.
This is a screenshot of how my son, Connor, used the Desmos Calculator to make sense of transforming quadratic functions.
3. When you sign up as a teacher (again, for free) you can assign activities and games (yep, they’re all free to use, too) to your students and you can check their progress from your teacher page.
So, beyond the graphing calculator – which is amazing on its own – as a teacher you can assign an activity to your students based on the content they are investigating. Try Central Park – it’s my favorite activity. (If you like, you can go to the student page and type in the code qqbm. I set this up for anyone reading this post. Feel free to use an alias if you like).
And as far as games go, check out Polygraphs. It’s like the Guess Who? game for math class. Trust me, your students will love it and there are polygraphs for elementary as well as secondary. The polygraphs are all partner games, so students will need to work in pairs. I’ve even made a few:
4. As you get sucked in to this tool, you may begin to think to yourself, “Boy, I really wish there was an activity for ______. If only knew how to create an activity for my students to use on Desmos.” That’s taken care of, too, with Activity Builder and Custom Polygraph (and, yep, you guessed it – they’re free to use, too)
And before you begin to doubt whether you can create an online activity or polygraph, the Desmos team has already taken steps to make this extremely teacher friendly. Before you know it, you’ll have your own Desmos activity published!
Finally, as a great end of year gift, Dan Meyer blogged about the latest from Desmos – Marbleslides. If this doesn’t get you to use Desmos with your students. . . well, I’m sure they will think of something else, soon. But seriously, try this out. I have re-learned and deepened my own understandings of mathematics by trying and reflecting on many of these activities and games, and then having my own kids do them (and then they ask me why their teachers aren’t using them – “Can you talk to them, Dad?”). The conversations will be happening this semester for sure!
But the best part about all of this is that students get to use the calculator to investigate graphs and compare graphs and equations/functions. They get to notice and wonder about what matters and what changes a graph’s slope, and y-intercept for linear functions and what changes the vertex and roots of parabolas. They get to investigate periodics and exponentials and rationals and so much more. They get to engage in activities and games that have components that ask them to reflect on what they’ve learned in the games and activities themselves. The students are doing the mathematics.
Then, in class, we get engage students in talking about the math they’ve investigated! How sweet is that?
You see, as great as Desmos is, it can’t take the place of great teaching. It’s a tool that can help us become better at our craft and help our students gain a deeper understanding of mathematics! Sounds like a win-win!
So, I guess I don’t have a Desmos math addiction. Addictions have adverse consequences and I see none of that here! I just have – as we all do thanks to Desmos – access to a powerful mathematical learning tool! Thank you Desmos. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!