Resources Webinar - Using Desmos, Even At A Distance! - By Jemma John

Jemma John Before today I was confident in my knowledge of Desmos, I had used it throughout my degree and have even integrated some of the activities into my lessons.  

In Natalie Vernon’s workshop on using Desmos, I began to realise that my understanding of what was capable was barely the tip of the iceberg and from the first slide I began to develop my skillset.  

Natalie took us through a fun example first – Recognising that it’s always important to understand the activities you’re presenting from the students point of view not just the teacher’s. Natalie then used our answers to demonstrate the range of possibilities available to teachers on Desmos. Not least was the anonymise answers feature when showcasing our work (In this case seahorse sketches). I was particularly grateful not to have my name shown on that piece of work! 

I didn’t think my opinion of Desmos could get much better. We were shown activities that included creating graphs and inequalities; editing functions and tables; and creating histograms, boxplots and scatter graphs.  

Using Desmos with my students will let them demonstrate their learning and understanding without being held back by the irrelevant parts of that learning, like drawing axes or finding different colours to label graphs. The showcasing feature is really useful to pick examples of answers that are particularly good or show misconceptions that I’d like to address. One of the most impressive things to me however is how quickly Natalie managed to pick and show these answers – I’ll be choosing Desmos over a visualiser in the future! 

It’s great finding out about online resources that you know will benefit your students, however for me the most important part of teaching is being able to adapt to my students’ needs. Natalie then took us through how to build, adapt and design these activities using Desmos labs which allows me to really put my own teaching spin on it! 

Not only will the enthusiasm I gained from this workshop and Natalie allow me to improve student engagement when I am live teaching but also this is an effective tool for remote learning. I can check students answers and make their learning interactive. However, the small touch that I liked the most is a small grid asking how we were feeling before the workshop. In a time where teachers are unable to provide the smiles and care in person the small amount of care showed here went a long way. 

This scholarship workshop was a fantastic opportunity for me to improve my skills and keep busy when I’m not in school and it has made me look forward to going back to my students with more new and exciting activities. Natalie led a fantastic session and I’m really glad to have had this opportunity.

By Jemma John 



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