Last year, our district pioneered using the Desmos Test Mode iOS app on STAAR (state) tests. You can read about that here.
For the 2015-16 school year, we knew that the Texas Education Agency updated its calculator policy to extend the possibility of using a tablet-based calculator not only for the Grade 8 mathematics STAAR test, but also for Algebra I, Algebra II and Biology.
While my Algebra students won’t get to use Desmos Test Mode for their STAAR EOC (end-of-course) exam until May, my Math 8 students completed their math testing yesterday. Students had the option of using Desmos Test Mode, a TI-graphing calculator… or BOTH tools if they preferred. Today, I gave my Math 8 students the same survey I gave to my Math 8 students last year.
I asked three questions:
- In general, which tool do you prefer?
- Name a few math lesson topics for which you like using the TI Graphing Calculator more than Desmos.
- Name a few math lesson topics for which you like using Desmos more than the TI Graphing Calculator.
Here are the results – while my sample size included more students this year (77 to be exact) the percentages are basically IDENTICAL to last year’s results.
Anonymous student responses can also be seen here —> Math 8 STAAR Calculator Survey 2016 Yenca if you’re curious about the topics they listed (I’m sure they’d appreciate it if I asked you to excuse some of their spelling errors…!)
I’ll be very curious to ask these questions of my Algebra 1 students post-EOC. As far as graphing topics in Grade 8 curriculum, we deeply explore concepts of slope/rate of change/unit rate and proportional versus non-proportional linear relationships. We only utilize slope-intercept form of linear functions, and we only solve linear systems by graphing. Grade 8 math is still somewhat of a sampler course – we do some number stuff, some geometry stuff, some algebra stuff, some data stuff, and some financial stuff. There are a LOT more topics in Algebra 1 for which Desmos is an IDEAL tool. I really think this graph will be quite different for Algebra 1 students… we’ll see!
Check back in May once we’ve conquered the entire Algebra 1 curriculum.