I had the opportunity to attend CAMT (Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching) in San Antonio this past June. While at the conference, I learned so many things that I wanted to bring back to my classroom. I found myself focusing on two areas- instructional coaching and math technology. Instructional coaching will be the topic of many future blog posts, I’m sure, but today is all about math technology.

In Dan Meyer’s keynote session, he introduced us to some activities on Desmos.com, and I’ve been using them in my classes, and it’s been making huge impacts on student learning. I shared Quadratic Polygraph with a coworker, and it’s our new favorite toy tool.

I teach Mathematical Studies SL for the IB program at my current school. I decided to use the Desmos “Match My Parabola” guided investigation with them to introduce the concept of identifying a function by the graph. This is a topic that has been quite boring to teach, and feels like “chalk and talk” on my part. I really love to do inquiry based learning in class, and while they were doing this activity, I decided to toss the planned flipchart I had made and do a lead in with Desmos. They spent about a class and a half working through this, so I felt that they were ready.

I put an example screenshot from the textbook (pg 517-518) on the board:

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“Can you make your graph show this, based on what you’ve been working on so far? What would the equation be for this graph?”

“How about this one?”

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“And this one?”

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They discussed it and attempted to do it on their online graphers, and most were able to. Then I was able to lead into a discussion of how to do it if we didn’t have a grapher that would automatically change like the Desmos one. It was amazing! Instead of blank stares and lots of “huh?” they were nodding and writing down the method, and then one student was able to sum it up by saying, “So if you have the intercepts and a point on the graph, you can find any graph this way?”

HAPPY DANCE.

I left this class feeling a teaching high that I haven’t felt in a while. It was so great to be able to let students sort their way through a process and really have an understanding of the topic when we left.

Telling on myself from CAMT:
Before Dan Meyer’s first Keynote, loads of teachers were lining up to take selfies with him, so I thought “why not?” and joined the queue. When I got up to him I said, “I love your TED talk on statistics! I use it every year.” To which he replied, “I’ve never taught statistics in my life. But that sounds like an awesome talk to watch.” Oops! I went back to my seat and looked it up that it was Arthur Benjamin that I was getting him confused with, and then went back and told him that it was Arthur Benjamin I was getting him mixed up with. Dan’s TED talks are pretty awesome, too, but my jet-lagged brain wasn’t letting me remember names. 

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