How not to bore your math students to tears!

Who I am

  • I am John Chapin
  • I teach Math and Computer Science at Freedom High School.
  • My email address:
  • My twitter handle: @Math_CS_Teach


  • Not to teach you everything about Desmos, but to get you going in the right direction.
  • 1/3 Desmos Calculator, and 2/3’s Desmos Activity Builder – Why Desmos?

  • It can get your students doing great math thinking:

    • Modeling math
    • Writing about math
    • Talking about math
    • Making predictions about math, construction arguments, critiquing others
    • Making links between the algebra and the visual graph.
    • Working collaboratively
    • Really all 8 of the common core math standards.
  • Low floor and a high ceiling.

    1. Low Floor –
    2. High Ceiling
  • It has advanced features for:

    • Calculus – Integrals and Functions
    • Math Analysis – Polar Graphing, Trig, Summation
    • Stats – Regression, Statistics, Tables
    • Algebra – Functions, inequalities, domain restrictions, points
  • You can use it to create amazingly interactive lessons very quickly

  • But, they cannot use it on an AP test or an SOL.  

    • True, they need to know how to use a calculator. But, this is not an either/or question. Desmos, does not replace the calculator, but it will enhance your lesson.

Part I – Desmos Calculator

Features that I use:

  • Show what the algebra looks like
    • It always seems like I am saying, “What do you think it looks like? Let’s check it out on Desmos.”
  • Double check homework
    • Solving two equations and two unknowns
    • Finding the x intercepts
    • Verifying regression equations
  • The colors and the ability to make a graph disappear.
    • You can easily graph multiple equations and hide them and then make them reappear.
  • Have them turn in the link instead of printing off the graph for their projects.

Jump in: Desmos Bingo

Part II – Desmos Activity Builder

Features that I use:

  • Use it to introduce a concept such as transformations
    • Convert some of your paper investigations into a classroom activity.
  • Use it to get your students to practice such
    • Trig transformations
  • Turn your paper investigations into interactive classroom activities.

Jump in: Be a student

  • Go to with Class Code – UX5H

Part III – Desmos Activity Builder – Build Your Own

Create your own:

  • Go to and log in
  • Create a new one (click on the icon under “Your Custom Activities”)
    • You can try to create the “Lines activity” from above.
  • Or Copy one:
    • Click on the red button “Browse all activities”
    • Click on “Learn More”
    • Click on “Duplicate this Activity” and start editing
    • Click on “Start a new session” and invite someone to complete your activity
  • Desmos “How To” Page

Steal 2

  • Pick 2 that have already been created that you will use for next year.


  • Tweet to @Desmos the link to your very first activity!

Part IV – Polygraph – Fun way to build math vocabulary

Other Links:

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