I am going to let you all in on a little secret. You see, math and I…well, we just don’t have a very good relationship. In fact, you might say that we broke up a long time ago and have just never been able to reconcile. I am relatively certain math hates me, and believe me, the feeling is mutual.
Fortunately for me, in my recent years, I have come across a few teachers that not only love math, but are advocates for their subject and got me excited about the way they teach and the tools that they use. Anderson High School math teacher, Kristen Fouss (@fouss) and Trailblazer and Turpin High School math teacher Ben Schulcz (@BSchulcz) are masters of their crafts and both of them use edtech tools to reach all of their learners. If you want to learn about blended learning, using tech to differentiate, and dynamic classrooms full of FUN math (I can’t believe I just said that), then follow these people on Twitter!
In particular, Kristen introduced me to Desmos. Desmos bills itself as “the next generation of graphing calculator.” They also claim: “Desmos wants to help every student learn math and love learning math. But “every student” is a lot of students so we create digital math tools and let the Internet take them to anyone who wants them.” Wait a minute…love math? Like, for real and true? That is exactly what Desmos aims to do through their interactive activities that focus on math concepts like conics, expressions, functions, quadratics, inequalities and a bunch of other math stuff that I don’t understand.
Desmos has a library of activities that teachers can draw from for use in their own classrooms. Activities are easily shared out by creating a class code, and student responses are recorded for the teacher to view.
Here is an activity I assigned myself on Parabolas:
Yes, I know my math is wrong. I don’t even know what a Parabola even is. No matter though, because as I am working through this problem, my teacher sees this in her dashboard:
When I get stuck, my teacher can see where I am stuck and swoop in to save the day! Please, somebody, swoop in and save the day!
The activities are varied, fun, and truly explore the pedagogy and application of math. Desmos is not just limited to high school students. The platform is designed to be accessible to all learners and when you explore concepts and modules, the brains at Desmos have notes and postscripts that help you to identify which activities are appropriate for different grade levels or different types of learners. Lessons are marked as “Introduction,” “Development,” “Practice,” and “Application.” If you are unable to find an activity for your concept, you can even create your own using the Desmos tools.
Desmos has great teacher tools to help you, as an educator, understand the concepts and the best way to work through the activity by providing a teacher guide for each Desmos activity.
One exciting thing that you need to know about Desmos is that it is completely free! There are no hidden costs, no upcharges, and no desire to pinch your wallets since Desmos is paid for by partnerships with textbook companies and other organizations.
Another thing that you need to know is that the Desmos calculator runs seamlessly on any platform. You can add it as a Chrome app, an iOS app, or run it on your android. The calculator has also been chosen to be the calculator provided to Ohio students when they take the AIR test this school year (read the notice here), so the more exposure you can give your students to this amazing tool, the better!
There is already a community built around Desmos, and if you do a Twitter search using Desmos as a keyword, you will see how math teachers all over America are implementing this tool in their classrooms. Why don’t you take the risk and join them! You won’t regret it!