What is Desmos and How Can It Be Used for Teaching? Tips & Tricks (2024)

Desmos is the name synonymous with math graph-based teaching. This STEM-learning platform uses a web- and app-based platform to let students play with math in a way that creates visual results thanks to graphs.

Consequently, math can be taught in a way that moves beyond symbols and numbers to offer a graphical output, which can help make it all more accessible and engaging for a wider range of students.

Crucially, Desmos also helps take students from a basic understanding of graphs into far more complex possibilities. In fact, there is an annual Desmos competition that has entrants create complex and often beautiful artwork outputs using math to build the images in graph form.

What is Desmos?

Desmos is a graphic-based math tool that allows anyone to build advanced images using numbers and symbolic formations.

Desmos can be used as a STEM teaching tool to help students learn about equation plotting. It can also be used to teach how value adjustments lead to changes on the graphical outputs, helpfully using sliders to let students play around with this concept.

The use of colors and an unlimited number of mathematical expressions combines to create a tool that students can use to get really creative with. The end results can be complex and realistic drawings that can be saved to work on later or to share -- making it a viable in-class as well as homework tool.

How does Desmos work?

Desmos works as a web-based tool but can also be downloaded in app format to work on iOS and Android devices using touchscreen interfaces.

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Students can join using a class code for instant access, or teachers can sign-up to create classes and activities. The Desmos Math 6-A1 curriculum is available to use both in English and Spanish and offers a year-long program of teaching.

Teachers can browse by activities to find suitable picks to use in class or to set as homework. These include marble-sliding games that have students transform periodic functions by trying to slide marbles through points on a graph.

Desmos can also be used as a four-function calculator, a scientific calculator, a matrix calculator, and a geometry tool. Using the Desmos Classroom it's possible to set work and take students or the class through programs of study to help them learn and develop their graphical mathematical abilities.

What are the best Desmos features?

The Desmos Art Contest is a really great feature that allows students to enter a competition in which their mathematical creations can win as the most creative way to use the tool effectively. Lots of fun while still helping to teach at the same time.

What is Desmos and How Can It Be Used for Teaching? Tips & Tricks (3)

Desmos is a great way to teach modelling and data analysis as well as real-world mathematical applications. But at a more basic level it lets students graph equations in a way that provides instant results, making it empowering.

Students can also plot data points or explore transformations and analyze functions thanks to the easy way this STEM tool is designed. Solving equations is just a small part of the way this can help kids explore math in a fun and engaging way.

The ability to change graphs by manipulating the equations allows students to learn through play. This can also be done collaboratively to help develop social working abilities at the same time as math skills.

What is Desmos and How Can It Be Used for Teaching? Tips & Tricks (4)

How much does Desmos cost?

Desmos is a free to use resource and doesn't require anything but a login from you in order to setup an account to get started. This allows you, as a teacher, to create classrooms and add students so you can monitor their work with ease. It also has no ads and no tracking, making this a safe environment for all ages.

Desmos best tips and tricks

Have a class competition
Use the image competition idea-only in class to see what everyone can create and award winners for the most original results.

Go the year
Try following the complete full-year Desmos Math 6-A1 course, in class and in spare time, to get a complete and rounded result.

Take pre-made activities and customize to make each one suited to the class or individual students to help them progress creatively.

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What is Desmos and How Can It Be Used for Teaching? Tips & Tricks (2024)
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