A few days ago, I returned from my second GaETC conference. Last year, when I attended this conference, it was the first time that I had presented at a national conference. I remember being so nervous yet excited at the same time. In the words of Lindsay  Titus, I was leveling up.  The world of GaETC21 was very different than GaETC22. Back then, I wore a mask all the time and I only took my mask off while presenting up front. All of my pictures were taken with a mask and every session had strict social distancing guidelines. I remember being so sad when I needed to send people away.

This year was very different. Those guidelines had been relaxed and I did not need to wear a mask. But more than that, I was different. As I presented my two sessions to packed houses, I could feel myself leveling up, After a year of presenting at conferences like this, I knew how to engage and involve my audiences. I gave them choices on what they wanted to focus on. I gave both sessions my all and I was overjoyed by the feedback by participants. If you attended one or both of my sessions, thank you. You made each session special because of your engagement!

Reviewing what are the ABCs of Transforming Learning are-

Two weeks ago, I shared a blog post called D = Design Collections and Artifacts of Learning.  This post shared two free online resources that can truly transform learning for our students.  They allow our students to become curators of knowledge and share it with the rest of the learning community.

This week, we will focus on E = Empower Math Discourse. Rather than focus on several applications, this week I chose to focus on just one mighty and powerful application, Desmos.  This post shares some of the amazing features of this program and how they can benefit learners at any age with mathematical discourse. I discovered this amazing resource while attending  a session on Desmos at GaETC21.. Who could have guessed the impact that attending that one session would have on me? I almost didn't even walk in and asked if this would even apply to my elementary learners. I am so glad I did walk in and Desmos has truly been an amazing tool for my students and me to build a culture of math discourse. 

E = Empower Math Discourse with Desmos

Before I can fully explain this amazing tool, I want to take a step back and share my #TechUpTheMath framework. Using this framework, I identify math tools that have at least one of three characteristics or VMI. They take the learning targets and infuse technology in such a way that it does one or more of the following:

Desmos is a great example of these characteristics. It helps students to clearly able to visualize the math concepts that they were learning about using the simulations.  In addition, due to the interactivity of Desmos, students were able to have increased interactions with their teacher and classmates as well.

What are Desmos' Classroom Activities?

With the Classroom Activity Builder, activities empower students to explore and collaborate on math together. It includes ready made templates and custom made activities that you can use right away. 

If you have ever used Pear Deck or Nearpod, think even bigger. Desmos has so many amazing ways to make learning interactive.  They include cart sorts, card matching, free response, sketching, polypads, challenge creator and polygraphs. 

There are tons of premade activities inside of Desmos, but you can also find tons of Desmos collections with a simple Google search. Search Desmos and Grade ?- add any grade and you will be amazed what you will find. I have used Desmos classroom activities grade 1 and up.

What are Desmos' Polygraphs?

One of my favorite Desmos activities are polygraphs. If you don't know what polygraphs are- think Guess Who with math. Each polygraph has 16 graphs or pictures. Students are randomly paired up. One student acts as the chooser and selects one of the 16 graphs to focus on. The other student acts as the guesser and asks yes or no questions to determine which graph was selected. As the teacher, you can see all the questions asked on your teacher dashboard. 

A great tip while doing this is to have a list of questions with math vocabulary available for students to view. I post these on a slide on the smartboard. Another great tip is to model this process for students. When I coteach with classroom teachers, I have them select a graph and we "play" against each other to help students see how to play. 

Even students as young as grade 2 can play this engaging math discourse activity.  With them, we have done polygraphs about 2D and 3D shapes.  My fifth grade students have done polygraphs about transformations- see image to the left. You can even make your own!

What Can You Do with the Desmos' Teacher Dashboard?

The Desmos teacher dashboard gives educators super powers. It  allows you to monitor your students' work, with a choice of 4 different views- snapshot, teacher view, student view, and summary view. This allows you to keep an eye on your students as they work.  

In addition, it also has a classroom conversation toolkit. This toolkit allows educators to  pace students as they work,  and only allow them  to access certain slides. This gives you the power to pause slides to get the students' attention. Plus, you can even anonymize your students with the names of famous mathematicians. The teacher dashboard also allows you to leave written feedback for your students.

Want to Learn more about Desmos

There are so many great resources to do so.