I had a “My Favorite” moment in Algebra class yesterday, and it may come as no surprise that @Desmos was involved. My Algebra students are just getting started with exponential functions. Wednesday, they explored this ThingLink, talked to their groups about the things they’d discovered, and then we spent time having each group report one thing they had learned/noticed/wondered about exponential functions. (We also took the time to watch the Mythbusters video in the ThingLink – check it out!) Using some examples, we firmed up ideas like y-intercept, asymptote, domain and range, and they had a few homework problems to try.
Thursday, students had a typical “homework huddle” to compare and discuss their work as I circulated to check their work. In the spirit of this post, I’d created a very short and sweet @Desmos #ActivityBuilder task to follow-up. This is the first time I’ve taken advantage of the new “you-can-have-a-graph-and-open-ended-question-on-the-same-slide” feature that Desmos recently added… and I made sure the box that says “Show students their classmates’ responses” was checked.
This was nothing flashy – just a couple of exponential graphs, and open-ended questions asking students, “What is the y-intercept?” “What is the domain?” etc. You can see the activity here.
What you can’t see is how my students reacted to this activity. The conversations that happened were awesome! Mind you, we’d just “reviewed homework” and yet… many students still had questions. Asking students if they “get it” is almost never effective… asking students to DO SOME MATH instead is almost always effective. It forces the questions out of them, and in this case, really got them talking to one another within their cooperative groups.
The “MY Favorite” icing-on-the-cake was seeing their reactions when they first saw the “Show students their classmates’ responses” feature. They loved it! It was so neat that three random classmates’ answers showed up after each student submitted his/her own answer to each open-ended question, and often this prompted a revision in thinking (and in the submitted response).
After all students had just about finished this quick check (I had the teacher dashboard projected on my smart board so we could all see student progress) I clicked through student answers to each prompt and addressed any last-minute misconceptions before starting a new lesson. Totally worth the 7-ish minute time investment.
Looking forward to Desmos (hopefully) adding an option to remove students’ names so responses from teacher dashboard can be made anonymous when projected in front of the class (…on the list for future features says THE Dan Meyer!)
UPDATE: The future has arrived!
— Cathy Yenca (@mathycathy) February 24, 2016