#descon16 – A WHOLE day of Desmos!

One of the things that excited me about attending #TMC16 was the Desmos pre-conference.  Except that as TMC was getting closer, I couldn’t remember if I had signed up for the pre-conference. 🙂 Couldn’t find it in my email or anywhere.  Then I received the reminders via email along with my ticket as the event got even closer, so I knew I had registered and my excitement returned.  YEAH!

My district is going 1:1 chromebooks in the middle schools this fall, which is going to be a benefit and a curse as teachers learn how to build skills in their classroom in an online environment and find useful resources for students to use.  I think Desmos is going to be key for teachers because of its many uses and the awesome new features they shared with us today.

My FAVORITE PART – Desmos shared a new organization of the teacher.desmos.com landing page, bundles of topic based & sequenced activities with helpful notes on how they build upon each other, and the really awesome labs option which enables teachers to use the brand new customizable feature for the ever popular marbleslides activity and the BRAND NEW  create your own card sort feature. I kid you not, you would have thought it was Christmas the way we all freaked out over the card sort. Well, we also freaked out over the free Desmos socks, but I think the card sort wins overall.

Things you can do with the card sort:
*Drag and drop images from card sorts you already own that are paper copies or electronic copies.  (While this isn’t the BEST use of Desmos, it is the easiest way to get started with the sorts initially.This isn’t the best because you can’t edit and change easily when the cards are images. Creating them using Desmos would be the best, most modifiable option.)
*Gather data on the card sorts…think about doing a paper card sort…you would walk around and see how students were sorting the cards, but wouldn’t really know if ALL of the sorted the same way or if they all had the same misconceptions or the same successes. GUESS WHAT? Desmos gives you data! Like amazing, real time, USEFUL data to guide your lesson, to guide your teaching, to make you a better teacher for your students! It will show you the sorts with all the names of the students that sorted that way…just think of what you could do with that.  Data you didn’t have before and it’s real time in your face, ready for you to use. The impact this can have in the classroom the same day you use the sort is amazing.
*Share your sorts with other teachers easily by sharing the link.
*DUPLICATE a shared sort so you can modify it, enhance it and make it something to work for your specific students.  When you duplicate the sorts, they become YOUR sorts and show up under Custom so you can use or edit them as needed.

Of course, the teachers of the MTBoS that were in attendance started creating card sorts left and right and created a google spreadsheet to share the links to them so you can duplicate and use. Because we are going 1:1 this year, I can’t wait to share the card sort feature with my district teachers. I see it as a great way to introduce Desmos in a new light to get them using it more.

Desmos has also made its graphing calculator fully accessible for visually impaired and blind students. You can enable voiceover on your device (command + F5 on mac)*, Desmos will read the expressions mathematically (ex: reading sin as “sine” instead of s-i-n) and it will give students helpful hints where they are as they work through the expression (ex: saying subscript, superscript, reading the opening and closing of grouping symbols). It is also capable of playing through a graph left to right across the screen to give a pitched audio representation of whatever has been graphed. It sounds like music! So of course a handful of teachers took the task of recreating songs using Desmos. And if they can get so excited about it, imagine what your students would do to try something like that out, even if it isn’t directly content related.  Think of the exploring, learning, stretching and sharing students would do with each other as they work to figure it out.

*It doesn’t work on ipad devices and to get it to work on a PC, try using this http://www.windoweyesforoffice.com/ and let me know if you can get it to work. I can’t get the native accessibility options to work on my PC. For a Chromebook, Enable accessibility on chromebook. click bottom right (near account pic),choose settings,advanced settings,check enable chromevox.


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