Website review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2020

Desmos

Elegant graphing calculator and math simulations promote collaboration

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 41 reviews
Privacy rating
87%| Pass Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
6–12
Subjects & Skills
Math, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Free and easy-to-use tool that gives students a visual way to understand expressions, and teachers a powerful platform for instruction.

Cons: Without significant help, less experienced students might struggle when things get complicated.

Bottom Line: Part calculator, part interactive simulation tool, Desmos is a standout example of inquiry-driven math with super-smart instructional supports.

Desmos can be used in a range of different ways.  It can be used as a free graphing calculator, saving students from purchasing a $100 calculator.  Teachers can use it to make high-quality images for assessments and presentations. But the classroom activities are where Desmos really stands out. Teachers can use Desmos to help students connect mathematical concepts to concrete, real-world shapes and pictures. Starting an activity with your students is easy: Simply have the kids enter the activity code into the website. Prior to assigning an activity, try the student preview. 

Teacher moves are listed at the bottom of activities, giving specific ways you can coach your kids while they're working. Progress can be monitored using the teacher dashboard. Using this information, teachers can work specifically with students one at a time or pause the whole class if most are headed down the wrong path. Desmos can also be a powerful tool in leading math discourse. Use the Snapshot tool to capture specific student responses and sequence them in the best order to drive class conversation.

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Desmos is a free graphing and teaching tool for math available on the web as well as on iOS and Android. In addition to plotting equations, classroom activities are available to help students learn about a variety of math concepts. For example, students can learn how to transform periodic functions by trying to slide marbles through points on a graph. Or they can plug in their own equation and see what kind of graph pops up; sliders allow students to adjust values and see what happens. Users can also click directly on the graph to find the coordinates of points of intersection, maxima, and minima.

Desmos encourages students to practice math skills as well as play with math to express their creativity. Kids can enter an unlimited number of mathematical expressions and instantly see results graphed on the page. A variety of colors and features make it possible to turn graphs into complex and realistic drawings. With a free Desmos account, students and teachers can save graphs to revisit later. 

Desmos takes an inquiry approach to learning math. Students manipulate different parts of an equation to change the shape of a graph in an effort to meet a goal, such as sliding a marble through stars. Perseverance is encouraged since kids can adjust and try again if the graph doesn't look quite right. Other tools like ExploreLearning Gizmos also let kids manipulate graphs by changing the equation, but Desmos empowers students to collaborate with each other. Students can ask each other questions and try out challenges created by their peers.

Several features make Desmos a standout graphing option for students with varying math skills. Beginners benefit from the ability to use sliders as substitutes for undefined variables. This way, kids can actually watch the graph move and change shape as they click and drag the variable up and down. A feature that may appeal to more advanced users is the ability to graph tables and inequalities. Tables can be pre-populated with expressions or entered manually, and they let students graph groups of numbers at the same time.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Students will have a blast transforming their understanding of expressions into dynamic and colorful pictures and graphs. The easy-to-use interface lets kids jump right in.

Pedagogy

Students learn by doing and instantly see changes to their graphs as they manipulate values. The activities allow students to play and help them figure out how functions are graphed.

Support

Clear directions and tips are provided along the way, sometimes in many languages. Teachers can track individual student's graphs as they're working, and then use the Snapshot tool to use student work examples to teach concepts.


Common Sense reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Community Rating

(See all 41 reviews) (41 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Jeffrey M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Desmos ruins student understanding of basic math relationships. 12th graders with no ability to do simple algebra without it
Physics teacher. Desmos is ruining understanding of math. 90% 12th graders cannot manipulate 3 variable equations. F=m×a, students cannot solve for m or a. They do not understand that 6×7 means 7 groups of 6 or 6 groups of 7. Seriously, they don't. They can put numbers in desmos, but all understanding of relationships of numbers and ability to solve without technology are gone. I don't know why I don't see anyone speaking out on this issue.
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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
Profile information is shared for social interactions.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
Users can control their information through privacy settings.
Users can create or upload content.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Data are not shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
Behavioral or targeted advertising is not displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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