One of the primary principles at the heart of technology integration in the classroom is that the technology must fulfill an authentic purpose. The question must always be asked, “How can using the technology actually improve teaching outcomes or student learning”?
For math teacher Krista Edwards, Desmos fulfills both of these requirements, and then some. Desmos is a web-based graphing application which has allowed Mrs. Edwards to transform some of her lessons and make math learning more interactive and hands-on for her students.
This past summer Mrs. Edwards attended a workshop at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire which focussed on using Desmos in the mathematics classroom. Since then, she has introduced the application to several of her math colleagues and has used it on a regular basis in her classroom with students from Grades 7-12.
Desmos allows students to interact with mathematical concepts in a visual and student-centred environment. High school students can experience an immediate connection between the graphical and algebraic representations of a function by modifying different parts of an equation. Middle school students have the ability to investigate a variety of two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and transformational geometry concepts by manipulating dynamic sketches. The program encourages students to use appropriate mathematical language and allows them to work at their own pace through the activities. Responses can be shared with the class to facilitate conversations among students as they go through the learning process.
Mrs. Edwards can create a custom lesson with targeted activities either to introduce a new topic, review a concept, supplement a traditional lesson, or provide enrichment for students. The teacher dashboard allows Mrs. Edwards not only to see exactly where students are at in terms of the lesson, but she can provide immediate feedback and collect a massive amount of data about students’ understanding of the material. At a glance, she can see if students might be struggling with a concept and need further instruction, and modify the lesson accordingly.
For Mrs. Edwards, Desmos has been a game-changer in her classroom, allowing her to inject some relevant and engaging technology to help improve student learning.