Desmos PD

desmosIt’s no surprise that I’m completely obsessed with Desmos and want to share it with teachers everywhere. This past year, I was given a few opportunities to run Desmos professional development for the teachers in my district, and in a few surrounding Massachusetts towns. Several people have asked me for my PD plan, so here it is:

General Structure:
Let’s Learn!
Let’s Play!
Let’s Teach!
Let’s Build!

Let’s Learn!
In the intro, I share some Desmos logistics and explain/show the difference between the calculator and activities (briefly touch upon polygraph vs activity builder vs card sorts (future PD, yay!), etc). I demonstrate basic calculator moves such as sliders, tables and regressions. But mostly, during this phase, I direct participants to Learn Desmos by finding a tutorial they are interested in and trying it out. Depending on time, you can also share the Desmos Scavenger Hunts and let participants work through them.

Let’s Play!
I choose a couple activities appropriate for the grade level of the participants, and we play! I tell participants to put on their student hats and imagine I am their teacher. I briefly explain the activity directions, give out the class code, and let them go to town. I stop at selective checkpoints to showcase various graphs or student answers from the teacher dashboard, talk about key vocab that I see being used, or to address any misconceptions I see, etc. Some of my favorite activities to choose are Polygraph: Parabolas and Marbleslides: Lines. These activities are obviously super fun, but also a middle ground for a range of middle and high school teachers in the same room. It’s always a struggle to make them stop playing so we can learn something else.

Let’s Teach!
This phase goes hand in hand with “Let’s Play,” and often, they overlap during my PD sessions. After playing one activity, we stop and analyze the activity with our teacher hats on. We talk about teacher moves that I made, implementation strategies, possible implementation challenges, and really analyze the teacher dashboard. I bring up past activities from my Desmos history and show participants some student work. It’s also during this phase that I finally show them the search engine on the teacher site and ask them to look up a topic they are teaching within the next day or two and see what they can find. Every single teacher has always found something they could potentially use that week.

Let’s Build!
I show teachers how to bookmark activities they find using the search engine, and then how to copy/edit them so they have a starting point. When there’s time, I walk participants through the basics of building an activity, and hopefully provide time for them to try making one with a partner. Unfortunately, this is usually the phase that gets cut out due to time constraints. One hour or afternoon is simply not enough to learn all of Desmos, but it’s definitely a start!

Please feel free to use this structure if it works for you, but make sure to adapt for your own personality/time constraints, and most importantly, find out what your learners want/need to know!

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10 thoughts on “Desmos PD

  1. Thanks Heather! This is great! I am working on a one hour section likely for mostly newbies and a mix of middle and high. I think this structure will work well along with scavenger hunts for more experienced. Trying to decide between a card sort, polygraph, or ? as the “lets play”.

    • Hey Nicole! If you can fit in about 10 minutes of both, I highly recommend playing polygraph first, and then doing a card sort. My goal is to give teachers enough preview/experience that most would feel confident enough to start implementing. Polygraph always seems to have that effect on people so its my favorite to start with!

  2. Great post. Polygraph is a grwat vocabulary builder. I used it for introducing Conics last year. Marbleslides is fantastic for function transformations play. I’m using card sort at the start of the year to get students talking about functions before formalizing lessons on parent functions. I’m so happy to be teaching with these excellent tools. What a great time to be teaching.

  3. Thank You!!!! I have a PD in a few days and the Scavenger Hunt is perfect for what I need to differentiate. I have a mixed audience from beginners to enthusiasts. This will work great!

  4. Oh Heather! I hope you get this. Please get this. Please have time to give me your thoughts. Did I say please? I’m dong a PD at the end of the month but giving it a trail run with my vertical team at my school TUESDAY! I HATE pd where they talk at you rather than teaching the way they are teaching you to teach. You know what I mean? To address that, I am trying to imbed the entire pd in a desmos custom activity. I’m going to revise based on your structure, but there are parts of mine I kinda dig. I would love your thoughts. student.desmos class code M6AN2. My PD is ONLY 45 minutes TOTAL. Some will have devises and internet access and some will not.I’m thinking I will do a business card with the address and code for those w/o access so they can run-through at home. It is geared toward middle grades DESMOS beginners to almost beginners.

    • Sara,
      I hope that your PD went well. I joined your section; it was great!! I’m doing a PD this weekend, and I really wish that I could use your card sort activities.

      Setting up the PD as a desmos custom activity is a great idea!

  5. Pingback: Desmos Activities – _peterprior

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