This can be a game changer for students with special needs who struggle with math. The Desmos graphic calculator allows students to interact with math equations through multiple representations. It is far superior to graphing calculators in terms of quality and ease of use and is free. The app for Smartphones is outstanding.

Here are features that make this calculator user-friendly and an outstanding instructional strategy.

Students can click on dots and the ordered pair will appear (see top photo below).

Students can change features of the equation and immediately see how the graph changes.

Students can collect data and create a graph and convert the data into “mathy” representations like equations (see top photo below).

This is a follow-up to a previous post about using comics to engage a student with autism. In the photo above the comics are on sale for $2 each which is a situation modelled by a linear function. The student finished this assignment independently, quickly and accurately (aside from the bars on the graph). (Note that he did not need the table at the top that shows the different number of comics.) In another previous post I explained the different levels of representation (CRA) with the equation being the most abstract. In this handout the equation was the last item addressed and was computed using the graphing calculator (Linreg function).

The following photo is from a warm up given prior to the assignment above. It addressed prerequisite skills for the intro to linear functions assignment. This student confused the x and y axes (you can see some of the points from his initial effort) and I used color coding to clear this up.The following photo is the student’s effort on a follow-up problem, which he completed correctly (and again did not need the table at the top).