How I Use It
After finding out that the Desmos Graphing Calculator would be used on the SBA, I found myself intrigued how the calculator worked myself. I spent some time with just the calculator to start off. I then started investigating the teacher options, such as the applications and classroom tools they have created.
We are using the calculator as an option in our classroom for all students in each subject, Algebra I through Calculus and Personal Finance as well. We found a way to make it a kiosk mode so students can use the calculator on assessments. My students love the opportunity to use this calculator for all things: basic arithmetic, graphing, tables and other applications. Students enjoy the visual learning aspects of the calculator.
The teacher applications and classroom activities that are built to be used as additional learning material and support are very helpful. Currently I am using them after a student has learned a particular unit in their book to build on their learning and apply their knowledge to the assigned tasks.
Students are given the code for the particular class or task I have created for them to complete. They can log in using their school Google account, which saves their overall progress and allows them to go back to finish if they need to stop at any point.
Sometimes on some tasks it would not allow them to change their answers, so we would have to go through them individually through the teacher dashboard summary. That was the only set back in using this tech tool in our classroom.
My students who need accommodations found this activity to be fun and a different way to better understand the material they are studying. My students enjoy the "game" type aspects that these applications are created to be like. They are engaged and thoughtful in their responses especially as others will see their responses. This really helps hold them accountable for their overall understanding of the material.
When I ran it in a teacher led type of class, I can see at any point during the completion of the tasks where my students are and who may need additional support. I can use these as a formative assessment at the end of a lesson or even at the beginning of a lesson as a warm up for my students.
The calculator is quick and easy to use. My students are one-to-one with ChromeBooks and love the easy access to the calculator. It allows for teacher to create applications for their students as well in case you want students to learn something that you would like to connect to the current curriculum you are teaching.
I plan on using this tool moving forward in my future classes. There are new applications being made weekly and I cannot wait to have the chance to look through all of the options. Searching for applications on the teacher dashboard is easy. You can type in a simple word regarding the concept or procedure you would like the students to practice or investigate further and it will pop up with several different options for you. They even have Bundles that have pre-selected activities that build upon one another for clear connection for students to better understand.
To add these applications to my learning plan would be a simple copy and paste of a link or a code for your students to login. I can pick one to give my students an example of a practical application regarding the math they are learning. This is great to give support and practice for my students who are working independently.
In a teacher led format, I can bring it up on my screen with an entire class to log in quickly and efficiently during a particular lesson. We can pull up responses on the board after completion of a task to through all students responses all at the same time. This allows for a space for students to elaborate on their thinking and see what other students did and their approach to the task. I can create a code specific to that class only, that is not open to any other math students in other classes. I could also make a code just for an individual student themselves.
It also allows for your students to not know who turned in what by anonymizing their answers and responses, just in case you would like to build confidence in students responses. There are students who are nervous to answer questions thoroughly as they may have the wrong answer and they do not want their peers to know it was them in their responses.
There are activities you can have students pair up to complete, creating classroom engagement and the option to work with another student on a task.
The only thing I would like to see is a better way to reactivate the tasks so I do not have to go in or set times on when you want the link to be active for your kids. I would love to be able to make the code available from a certain date to a certain date. I can then reactivate after the date expires if I choose or set new dates. Students have to email me to let me know if they need a link to be reactivated when they are working independently on the material.
I plan on changing up the assigned applications yearly to make sure I have the best application available for my students in completing their understanding. I love this tech tool and look forward to building on my knowledge of the material available to me. My students love the opportunity to use technology in class as well. The "game" aspects of the tasks build a better sense of engagement for my students.