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  • Dr. Jennifer Chang Wathall

Free Online Collaborative Mathematics Learning Tool: Desmos!


Ever since the wonderful Dr. Dan Meyer took over Desmos as Chief Academic Officer in 2015 Teacher.Desmos.com has become a freely available, even more valuable and rich place where you can find wonderful resources to enhance math learning. Dan’s main goal for Desmos was to “produce the best digital math curriculum in the world!”. The team at Desmos are extremely forward thinking and innovative in their approach to math learning.

Desmos offers three main categories for math learning:

1. Online Graphing Calculator https://www.desmos.com/ which has the advantages of being very easy to use and intuitive. The syntax similar to writing math and it is fairly straightforward to create sliders. There options for different colors and you can graph derivatives, polar equations, parametric equations, conics and other relations, regression models, etc. with relative ease. Here is a link for a guide on how to use the online graphing feature https://desmos.s3.amazonaws.com/Desmos_User_Guide.pdf

2. Classroom Activities https://teacher.desmos.com/ are divided into five different types of activities:

a) Polygraph (Introduction/ Development)- teachers give a class code for students to participant and each student is randomly assigned to another students to complete the activity

b) Marbleslides (Development)- is a fun way for students to explore connections between the graphs and equations of lines, parabolas, etc.

c) Card Sort (Practice)- the recommendation here us for two students to one device to promote discussion

d) Modelling Math (Application)- activities that look at applications of mathematics

e) Interactive lessons with videos e.g. sketching what you see and then recording a video.

The classroom activities are organized in content bundles such as: Conics, Exponential, Expressions, Functions, Inequalities, Linear, Linear Systems, Modeling, Quadratic and Transformations. Most topics are generally for middle and high school learning.

3. Community Work http://learn.desmos.com/create allows educators and students to create and build their own activities to share on the web.

The benefits of the different functionalities of Desmos include:

  • Developing mathematics communication through collaborative tasks

  • Increasing peer and teacher interaction and as a result increased engagement

  • Enhanced learning of the concepts in mathematics

  • Easy to use so students focus on learning math rather than on learning how to use the tool

If you haven’t tried Desmos yet I highly recommend you have a go! I think it is important to give our students a variety of different learning experiences to develop conceptual understanding in the mathematics classroom.


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