Technology to Support Student Learning

This week I dove into exploring technologies that support student learning and engagement inside the classroom. In Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom (2011), Renee Hobbs claims there are five communication compentencies central to learning across all subject areas (p. 12). Access to relevant material, the ability to analyze critically, focused creation, thoughtful reflection, and actively sharing their knowledge. Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2011) suggest that this culture of learning “thrives on change” (p. 37) which is true even in my short teaching experience. I began to think about previous lessons and how students engaged in these five competencies. I found a lesson that fell short in many areas so I began to search for ways to bring it to the 21st century.

“Digital media provides access to a rich source of information and play,”(p. 37-38) according to Thomas and Brown so I started by looking at the Top 100 Tools for Learning. I was happy to see that I had used many of these tools before. Then I came across Desmos Activity Builder and Mentimeter. Both I had heard about before but have not purposefully implemented with students yet. So I adapted an only less tech-savvy lesson of mine to step up to the 21st century technology enabled world with these tools.

This is an Algebra 2 lesson introducing absolute value functions. In Texas we use Texas Educational Knowledge Standards (TEKS) instead of CCSS. The content standards the lesson covers are:

AII.6.C The student is expected to analyze the effect on the graphs of f(x) = |x| when f(x) is replaced by af(x), f(bx), f(x-c), and f(x) + d for specific positive and negative real values of a, b, c, and d

AII.6.D The student is expected to formulate absolute value linear equations

Desmos Activity Builder is a great tool to enhance student engagement and learning into this content because of how interactive it is. Students will be able to use sliders in the activity to move the function and explore how key features displace the function from its parent form. All of the students will have access to an iPad to complete the activity on and a notebook to record answers. Desmos is a perfect tool for students to analyze functions and form conclusions based on their exploration. During class discussion student will be able to reflect on the experience and create their own functions. I am going to use Mentimeter, a collaborative poll/quiz tool, to give me quick formative feedback on my students. This will allow students to answer honestly and quickly so I know if we need to review a concept before continuing on to harder student created examples. I invite you to check out the before and after of this now tech-savvy lesson:

Old lesson worksheet: Here

Plan for the technology enriched lesson: Here



Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.


One thought on “Technology to Support Student Learning

  1. msdimariablogs says:

    I’ve had a question about how the students will be taking notes. If you look at the Desmos activity there are spots that reference students taking notes in their notebooks. At this point in the year the routine will already be set so perhaps that is why I did not make it completely clear on how exactly students will be taking notes in their notebooks.

    Our students have interactive notebooks where they gather information for each project and use it along the way. On activities like this one students can take more open notes, meaning they can organize them how they please but are expected to take notes. The notes will serve as a guide for them during the class discussion and it will be their main source of recall when we answer questions. Students however still need a bit of guidence when taking notes like this so there are specific places where the activity guides the students to make note of something in their notebook. That should serve as a small bit of scaffolding for their note taking.

    At the beginning of the year we spend a lot of time with students helping them to structure their notes. I show them on the board and also model taking them when others are presenting. Students follow along and learn to listen for key information to write down.

    These notes will be used for the discussion. There will be opportunities for students to share their predictions and talk about what they initally noticed and wondered about the function. Then we will talk about each variable and use the Mentimeter questions to guide this discussion. We will go over the practice problems given at the end of the Desmos activity and then students will create their own for the class to solve. Again all work done from this discussion gets added to the end of their notes. I will be looking for all of this work in their notebooks when I collect them for a notebook check.


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