Desmos in the Classroom

I would like you to go to www.student.desmos.com and type in the class code: D7YNE5.  This card sort will help students convert between fractions, decimals, and percents.  In addition, students will visualize these representations using an area model.

This card sort is just one type of interactive activity that teachers can find or create on their own to engage students through the use of this online application. Not only can teachers get students to be more engaged but teachers can monitor and control the flow of the lesson from their dashboard. Teachers can see in real time what students are doing on the activity. This is not just a high quality graphing/scientific calculator! Of course, we do want our students to know the ins and outs of this calculator tool since it is the one used on the CAASPP (SBAC Exam). To get a teacher account, go to www.teacher.desmos.com To use the calculator, go to www.desmos.com And, it’s all FREE!!!

ren2Okay, a little background on my journey. This is my second year playing with this online application. I was exploring it last year and used it here and there with what I could find online to supplement lessons in my classroom. I did not learn how to create my own activities. I found it extremely limiting but wanted more because I saw the potential of such a program. This year, I went to my second training at the annual ETC Conference in Stanislaus. I took the wrong class because it was meant for 5th grade and I teach high school. However, I did gain lots by getting resources to libraries created by other educators for Desmos! I was excited about that. Still, it did not satiate my need to create my own activities. Finally, I went to another training that same day that was meant for high school or intermediate level. Once the instructor directed us that way, I continued. He did not give time for going beyond but I dived in and continued and played with all the tools till I finally understood what I needed in order to start creating. I created my first activity and I was so excited to bring it back to my classroom.

Ren1I went back to my classroom and I implemented lesson after lesson ranging from basic warm-up activities to two days in-depth analysis that had my students creating, modeling, and analyzing all in the program. Students were highly engaged, even the ones that try to get away with not doing work. Browse through the teacher page and tools and you will find many interactive, fun, and enriching activities for your students that are common core aligned.

I came across not just an application, it became a pedagogy. This is a dynamic resource that we can utilize to meet the needs of our students from many different backgrounds. The pictures below are my students’ answers and work. I have students with special needs and students who are newcomers to the USA as well. It is amazing to see the progress they have achieved this year just by reading their reflections.  Take a chance and take that leap. Discover. Ignite that fire in your students that captures their minds and makes them want to learn again. Do something different. I teach high school math but you can make anything yours, you just have to put in time and love.

Here are some screenshots of what my students worked on from my teacher dashboard. I anonymized everyone so they are all famous mathematicians for the day! 😊

 

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Google Classroom for Kinders

Google Classroom in the Kindergarten class? Yes!  This platform gives students the opportunity to create, collaborate, learn and explore. Students discovered that they were capable of creating digitally. I would love to get more K-2 teachers on board with using Google Classroom!   It is not as hard as you think!

Picture of students working with Chromebooks.

Kinder students can work with Chromebooks!

To begin with, procedures must be established.  My students first became familiar with their Chromebooks using Imagine Learning. This program uses their Google account to login. You can use other programs as well. Each child should have their account information on a card which is taped to their desk.  They only need to input the one to one correspondence for each digit in their passcode. The problem with Kinder is that some of them are not developmentally ready to achieve the one to one correspondence successfully. They either lack the fine motor skills or the hand to eye coordination. This problem can be solved by the students who were more advanced.   They can simply go around and help other students logon. The first time we used Google Classroom I modeled it on the overhead projector. I went through the steps a couple of times then had a student come up and model the procedure also. The first few lessons should be done whole-group in order to help each child become successful. They learn how to navigate the site and what the expectations are for each lesson.

It might not be all smooth sailing at first.  We had a few problems. Five of my students could not log in at all.  They kept receiving a message that said their account had been blocked by the administration.  After looking into their accounts I discovered that they did not return their GAFE forms. My Kindergarten colleague has had the same problem in her classroom so it might be quite common. We thought we had 100% returned. After looking into the GAFE forms 3 of the students in question did return their GAFE forms. We are not sure what happened.

My school is an I.B. school.  This means we use an inquiry-based curriculum. Students are required to ask questions and research answers. Usually, the Kinders have their parents complete the research and share it with them. Google Classroom is more powerful.  They have some ownership of their research and they absolutely love it!

Student using Google Classroom.

Kinder students are able to navigate to Google Classroom on their own.

For example,  we were studying Endangered Animals. For the first lessons, I linked some introductory videos to the Google accounts and let the kids loose.  It was easy for them to log onto their accounts as they had previous experience. I was not prepared for the results. Two of the video links I had assigned worked perfectly well on my computer but were blocked on the student Chromebooks. I learned that this is a problem that happens because students and teachers are on separate networks and go through different filters. I need to test the videos using a student Chromebook and student account. How could I have known?

I encourage all Kindergarten teachers to embrace Google Classroom, challenge your students, and provide a more meaningful online experience.