Featured Resource: Desmos

Submitted by Sandy Ollerhead

If you visit Desmos.com, you will find a user-friendly and completely free online graphing calculator. But click on the “Classroom Activities” (or go directly to them through Teacher.Desmos.com), and you’ll find a plethora of amazing activities that you can use in classrooms from elementary to high school and beyond. And if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for in the activities, Desmos lets you create your own through their Activity Builder. You can either create an activity from scratch or take an existing activity and tweak it to make it just right for your particular students.

Activities are more than just online worksheets - they are designed to promote inquiry, allow students to make discoveries, and help gain a deeper understanding of a concept. They can even be used as a formative assessment at the end of a unit.

Here are two of my favorite activities:

Polygraph: Lines and the follow-up Polygraph: Lines, Part 2.

Polygraph is similar to the children’s game “Guess Who.” One student picks a line, and their partner asks questions to try to guess which line was chosen. Once the students have played a few rounds, part 2 is a follow-up activity that focuses their attention on the importance of using precise language to describe the linear functions. There are also polygraph activities for other types of functions as well as geometric shapes.

Marbleslides: Lines

Marbleslides takes the old “Green Globs” game to a whole new level. Students write equations for lines with the goal of having the marbles slide down their line through a series of stars. The game gives immediate feedback to students, allowing them to adjust their lines until they are successful. There are a series of levels that become increasingly difficult, the later levels requiring students to use restricted domains and multiple lines. There are also marbleslides activities for other types of functions.

A great place to start with Desmos activities is to use any of the “bundles.” Each bundle has a series of activities that are designed to take students from an investigatory stage through to concept mastery and application.

One of the many great things about Desmos is their clear commitment to working with classroom teachers. They are very open to feedback and are continually evolving and adding new features.

Do you use any of the Desmos activities in your classroom? If so, what is your favorite activity? Send your stories to atmim.murmurs@gmail.com to be featured in next month’s Math Murmurs.

© ATMIM (Assoc. of Teachers of Mathematics in Mass.)

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