Today in class the grade 9’s worked through an activity created and shared by Desmos Teacher. Desmos is a free online graphing calculator that many, many math teachers and students make use of. It is available on all types of devices and pretty straight forward to use.
To help support classroom learning even further, Desmos has a “teacher” section with some pre-created activities. One of these activities is Central Park. Central Park helps students transition from from the place where they can look at an equation and determine what value of “x” works to create balance, to a place where they have a deeper understanding of how variables can be used to create equations that model complex situations.
The activity starts by drawing on students intuitive understanding of parking lots and balance. It then begins to use mathematical calculations. Lastly, it has students developing equations that work in a variety of situations by inputing the values specific to that occasion. This is where students really begin to stress as they expand their understanding of what equations and variables really are. During consolidation at the end of the activity, most students in the class understood the new concepts. We will conference with students who could use a quick 1:1 to revisit the idea on Monday.
These desmos activities work well in our environment because they are quick to set up (2 minutes) and work on any devices. The teacher simply “starts activity” and then provides students with the code given. They do not require accounts, students just use the code at http://student.desmos.com to start the activity. The teacher can monitor student work and we identified students struggling and worked to get them on track or paired up with another student to help.
The next activity I think we will try will be the Polygraph Line activity. Students pair up and ask questions to their partners about their line (slope, intercept, etc.). As they ask more questions they eliminate some of the possible graphs to determine which one it is. It looks like a fun game to practice the vocabulary involved with linear equations.