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Ideas for Getting Started
In the meantime, if you want to show off what you love about Desmos to your colleagues, this page highlights some effective intro-to-Desmos moves we’ve seen in schools and workshops, conferences and coffee shops. We invite you to work through these ideas in whatever sequence or combination you think best serves you and your colleagues. The list is neither exhaustive, nor intended as a script, so be sure to add your own passion and personality as you continue your planning.
INTRODUCE THE CALCULATOR
Spend a few minutes showing off what the calculator can do. Consider a combination of building simple graphs from scratch, and showing off a few pre-made masterpieces. As you make your selections, keep these questions in mind:
What do you love most about the Desmos graphing calculator?
What features do you and your students use on a regular basis?
What graphs blew your mind the first time you saw it?
After a few minutes, invite your colleagues to fire up a web browser, head over to desmos.com, and start graphing! With a little inspiration (supplied by you!) it's time for everyone to take a hands-on approach. We've seen a range of productive activities at this point, including free exploration, structured graphing challenges, or exploring how existing graphs were made. (You'll find some gems at desmos.com/art and desmos.com/math.)
Whatever approach you take, we strongly encourage loads of collaboration—both for troubleshooting questions and for sharing discoveries. And when you finish, make sure participants know they can continue their learning at learn.desmos.com/features.
FIND A GREAT ACTIVITY
Desmos is more than just a fantastic calculator. In fact, we have over 200 engaging, classroom-ready activities at teacher.desmos.com. Provide a brief tour of some key functionality (e.g., search and browse). Then invite your colleagues to take a tour of the site themselves.
If you're looking for a more specific (and potentially productive) outcome from your time together, consider arranging teachers into small groups and asking them to find 2-3 activities they could use in their next unit.
Want to take it to the next level? Use a team approach to find one Desmos activity for every unit in a given course.
CREATE WITH ACTIVITY BUILDER
If your goal is to help teachers get up and running with Activity Builder, we've seen positive results from the following approach:
Prepare a short Activity Builder ahead of time (we recommend 2-3 screens). Ideally, this shows off multiple screen types and also relates to one of your courses.
Provide your colleagues with the class code. Let them work through the activity with their "student hats" on.
Show off the dashboard, even if only for a moment. (For a longer exploration, see Explore the Dashboard below.)
Demonstrate how to use Activity Builder by re-creating the activity from scratch. (This is why it's important for the activity to be short and sweet.)
Invite participants to work in pairs to create their own Desmos-powered activities with Activity Builder.
That last piece (collaborative work time) is likely the most valuable, and may benefit from some added structure. Consider asking your colleagues to give an "Activity Builder makeover" to a problem from a worksheet, or a section in a textbook. You might even want to demonstrate this by selecting something from your own materials, conducting your own makeover ahead of time, and showing the "before" and "after" for inspiration.
EXPLORE THE DASHBOARD
The teacher dashboard is packed full of insight into what (and how) students are doing on any Desmos activity. Before leading an exploration of the dashboard with your colleagues, we recommend that you watch this brief video showcasing some key dashboard features.
And while you could simply share that video with your colleagues, we don't recommend that move in a live PD session. Instead, we've found the following approach to be far more powerful:
Give teachers a class code to an activity you've selected beforehand. Let them finish about two-thirds of the activity.
Direct their attention to the dashboard on your screen and show off some key features.
Facilitate a conversation about how teachers might use the dashboard during an activity, as well as after class.
Consider wrapping things up with a Q&A, or by inviting someone else to take the reins.
It's worth mentioning that the dashboard is design to facilitate more human interaction in the room, not less. When it helps you identify a struggling student, head over to help. When it surfaces a pair of interesting responses, use them to facilitate an impromptu whole-class discussion.