Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Developing Understanding with Desmos

It's hard to believe it's already the fifth week of school! As one teacher put it at lunch the other day, "the shininess has worn off."

Although, I don't feel like that's true for me! I honestly feel like I'm having an amazing year. It's not perfect (could someone PLEASE help me spice up Pre-Calculus? The kids wouldn't even buy into the "What is a sandwich?" activity! It's dreadful! How do I get them to loosen up and interact?! Anyway, that's another blog post!)

I am teaching Algebra 2 Honors for the first time this year. Though it is incredibly time consuming to have a new prep, I'm trying to be thoughtful with how I do things instead of flying through it to save time. I've been spending many of my 4am-5am's (while I wake up slowly and drink coffee) exploring Desmos activities.

In our first unit, I asked students a few time to draw a plausible graph for a situation. I was trying to get at how they do with taking a word situation and/or picture and being able to convert it into a plausible graph. It's not something I directly taught in that unit, but I wanted to see how they would do. It was a mixed bag! So, enter the desmos activity "Function Carnival." Students drew possible graphs for situations then they were able to "play" them and then adjust if their graph was wrong.

As I walked around, I noticed students drawing things that weren't functions. When they would "play" the graph, all of a sudden there would be two cars on the screen. Without me having to tell students, they were able to figure it out (sometimes their neighbor helped them too!)

Fast forward to this week, when introducing functions for the first time. We did "Function Carnival part Deux." It introduced the notation of functions and the general concept of function/non-function. I loved having a situation/context that I could refer back to - and will continue to refer back to!

In class, after the Desmos activity, we did an "Intro to Functions Handout." can you go wrong when it's "edited with love?"

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