The power of Desmos

Last year I posted about how we could replace the ti-83 calculators with Geogebra because of the ability to have multiple screens open and be able to do more regression models.  I am not discrediting Geogebra, but I feel that Desmos has been great because of it’s ability to be used on multiple platforms.  This year Desmos has come out with the ability to also complete these regressions and combine it with the original power of Desmos, manipulating in real time.

Having students able to use Desmos on their phone, a school iPad, or a school computer/laptop has been vital for our investigations as we do not have a one to one ratio of tech to student.  It was also great to hear some of the students say “Oh, so I can do this at home?” Also seeing them use their phone for a productive app has been a good transition from all simple games they like to play instead.

I have not used it for all the regression models, but found that it worked really well with teaching about a line of best fit to the grade 9 academic class.  They were told vaguely to graph a line that best fits the data and then we compared it to the one Desmos created.  The students then created the (correct) rules for applying a line of best fit to any model.  It was a great visual to see that it did not have to pass through the origin, and that it does try to place an equal amount of points above and below the line.

Below I have some samples of what it looks like to have the regression models.  I was able to copy data straight from google sheets which was very efficient and easy instead of typing data.

I have also started using it for investigations with linear relations and so far it has helped students with manipulation of the information and visual representations. It is a learning curve as most are used to having information presented to them and then complete the tasks with their new information.

Linear Regression

Quadratic Regression

Exponential Regression

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Teaching Resiliency

This year I have taken over a class after a month and a half of being taught by another teacher with a different mentality and different teaching style.  It has been a tough three weeks for both the students and myself, but for the most part we are all getting used to each others tendencies.  Included in the Growth Mindset approach to my teaching, I am trying to help my students (both that I teach and coach) about resiliency.

In the mixed level math class the students had a test from the last teacher that needed to be done when I walked in.  I immediately worked on diffusing the anger and outbursts that the students had towards doing a test after not being properly prepared.  We spent a few lessons ironing out any misconceptions, and my main goal was to instill confidence in their abilities.  I knew that most of the students would be successful but needed to have the right mindset to do so.

As I anticipated, there were students who were not thrilled with the outcome of their test.  I tried to talk to those students individually by letting them know that there is always a chance to improve and a chance to learn from our mistakes.  From that day on, I saw a big change in some of the students and saw them fight through the troubles they had before.  Just today I saw them face the challenges of the lesson with a positive attitude and with more courage to take risks.

I had a moment of learning resilience myself.  I had a few bad lessons where students were not focused and they had a bit of attitude towards what we were doing in class.  After having a bit of a hard time after school with what my next steps were I remembered what I told my students when they were struggling with things.  I feel like it is something that new teachers often forget, to live by the words we teach our students.  I know that after taking a step back and thinking about it, I was able to bounce back and realize that I need to show the same resiliency that my students showed.

Teaching A Split Class (in Secondary)

This summer I had the unique task of teaching summer school but my class was a split class.  I had a Grade 12 Advanced Functions group and  a Grade 10 Academic group in a single room.  At the start I was really nervous and feeling slightly overwhelmed at the task at hand.  Worrying that the students would not be working if I wasn’t watching them all the time and trying to think about how I would give each group of students the time that they deserved were the initial thoughts I had.  

The first day felt like a rollercoaster ride, simply because everything seemed to have just happened and I didn’t know how it had all worked out.  That night I made sure that I went on to plan the day out better and to make sure I had structured my day to avoid that feeling again.  Once the structure was set out by myself, the students felt more at ease and higher learning took place for most of the students.  The next week and a half went much better although I know that if I am fortunate enough to do this again next year I will have a better idea of what to do.

 

Some of the big takeaways I found in this experience were:

– both sets of students developed their own routine in the classroom.  Students knew when particular tasks were to be completed and they scheduled their time around it.

– students developed a level of respect for one another within the first day.  When I was teaching one group the other would work quietly and not interrupt.

– Grade 12 students were given the opportunity to re-learn topics they may have not been as comfortable with (like factoring) without having to ask in front of their peers

– Grade 10 students could see the applications of the topics they were learning in the new context (I would also vocalize how the skills from Grade 10 were now considered to be skills they knew by Grade 12).

 

One of the big things I would like to do next time is try to create opportunities for the two groups to work together (have the grade 12’s teach the 10’s a skill, or even have the 10’s talk about what they are doing and work through problem solving).   I was wondering if anyone out there has had this experience and has any ideas on how to make it less of two separate groups and more of one whole group.

The Power of New Technology

Today I had the opportunity of supply teaching a history class that was completely self-directed.  The students were creating blog posts on a particular topic in World History.  The teacher left the link in the supply notes so that I could look at the posts if I was interested.  I found that because the class was working hard I found myself captured by the posts and topics that the students wrote about.  I even found myself reading these throughout the day because I was interested in the other posts that were available.  Some of the students shared their view on the EU, Terrorism, Torture, and Global Warming, based on the research they have completed to show their new understanding.  The class made me think about how much we have changed in terms of teaching and learning.

Teaching math I have found that I did not think of ways or redefining my class and then integrating technology into it.  I have mainly used it for substitution and modification (through the use of new apps so students can continue to learn outside of the classroom).  But from this class and the computer science class at my current school it has made me start to think about how to foster the power of blogging in my math class. I feel that this would be a fantastic way to have my students truly think about what they have been learning.

In my future classes I feel like I am going to use blogging or even forms more often so that we are using the power of technology to positively enhance student learning. I know that this year I have learned a lot about integrating technology and have tried to use it more often but I am still learning and growing like my students are when they learn something new.