Introduction to Desmos Webinar: A Review

I attended a ‘Introduction to Desmos’ CPD event exclusively organised for the Maths Scholars. We had all been asked to create a Desmos account prior to the session and during the webinar Tom Button showed us all its lovely features that we can use in and out of the classroom. There are many teaching activities on Desmos including UK KS3, GCSE and A Level (Pure) Mathematics. We all took part in the UK GCSE ‘Marbleslides: Parabolas’ activity in which we had to create equations for parabolas so that the marbles go through all the stars. An example of the student screen is shown below, as you can see there are notes for the teachers and examples of sample responses.

It was a very engaging activity that was scaffolded well and reminded me I needed to revise parabolas!

After the activity we had a discussion as to how we could use Desmos as trainee teachers; a lot of teachers raised concerns that their placement schools do not have enough devices for students or that students are not allowed to use their phones during lessons. It is possible to set these activities as homework as students can access the task using a code or perhaps it could be used as a whole class discussion. 

My first placement school has a ‘bring your own device’ scheme for the year 8’s so I was lucky enough to try out the ‘Land the Plane’ activity as a review session on straight line graphs. Desmos has a pace and pause feature which is excellent as I could pause the activity for all the students when we were having a class discussion so that I could ensure everyone was paying attention. The students were all engaged, it was easy to see their responses and if a student was struggling, I was able to provide them with individual support.

A few more features I would like to mention is that most activities have accessibility notes so that teachers can ensure the task is accessible for all students. Some activities also can be translated into other languages, so it is accessible to EAL students as well.

By Wiktoria Frackowiak


You can find Tom Button on Twitter as @Mathstechnology and MEI at @MEIMaths

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