I've had iPads in the classroom since the fall of 2012. It started with 4 and now I have a pile of 25. What world changing things are we doing these days?

Honestly, no one would build an ad campaign around it. My primary workflow is rather dull.

I've played around with exporting student work and sharing photos. It served a purpose but at my current scale isn't practical. I tried collecting data in spreadsheets and sharing it, too many kids had nothing to do. I tried have them analyze a video. I tried having them model equations to pictures. In each case the time investment ratio was just out of whack. There were simpler ways to accomplish the same thing. Despite how easy it was to gather stuff via Google Drive, I could never find other uses for it. Despite how easy it was to have them try and teach themselves, it was just glorified handouts. I like for them to keep records of everything we do. I still love paper and pencil, marker and glue. Can we make that better?


It began last year with an Algebra II experiment. About midway through the first semester I wanted to spend a long time on graphing, and verifying that algebra you do with your pencil can be proven with a graph. It became a recurring theme in that class to take the most efficient graphing utility available and produce great work without spending forever plotting points by hand.

It was so easy. Graph it in Desmos. Arrange screenshots in Pages. Print. Glue. Repeat.

Could this enhance Pre-Cal projects? Also definitely. And nowadays they don't always need my iPads.

Entrusted with a different type of student, I wanted to give them more control of their display work. Let them experiment inside some defined parameters rather than follow a script. It has worked really well. When they don't need to graph and print, Desmos makes the best tool for trying to answer the question "how do you reproduce this?"

So no, we aren't taking photos (for math purposes anyway #hundredsofselfies), we aren't making movies, we aren't watching videos, and we aren't collaborating in Google Docs. But we are graphing stuff. We are adjusting parameters on the fly, plotting polar equations with ease, making our custom piecewise functions just so, and pretty soon, designing an absolutely giant collection of sidewalk drawings.

It's simple. It's versatile. It's out of the way. And that's cool with me.

AuthorJonathan Claydon