Tag Archives: professional development

Desmos Fellows Weekend

This post was started in November when I was on my way back from the Fellow’s weekend. It languished in my drafts until today. 

As I write this, I’m on my way home from a weekend at Desmos HQ where I worked side by side with other Desmos Teaching Fellows. The Fellowship is meant to build “community, mentorship, early access to our best ideas and technology” among the 39 members of the first cohort. It was a heck of a time.

What we did

We spent pretty much all our official time in the Desmos office either engaging in presentations from Desmos staff and collaborating with fellow Fellows. Folks like Shelly, Michael, Christopher, and Dan spoke at length about how they teach teachers to use the calculator and the Activity Builder. Folks like Eli gave us the framework of Desmos’s history, guiding principles, and outlook for the future. And we spent a healthy amount of time just chatting and getting to know each other.

What I learned


The doorbell

The Desmos staff is insanely talented. They have done an impressive job finding folks that not only excel in engineering and design, but really do understand what makes for good math pedagogy. Every member of their team could create an exceptional Activity Builder lesson. They also clearly want to make their product better at all times. The whole staff was around all weekend and were constantly being pelted with “little suggestions” from 39 teachers with feature requests. Not only did they gladly take it all in, but they would follow up with deeper questions about what else would make the calculator and AB better for students and teachers.

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PD Recap: Know your saws with Polygraph

For all the Desmosing I do with my classes, Polygraph may be the least utilized resource for me. It does an effective job of having students play around with a set of new terminology and fosters a sky-high engagement level. It’s not exactly something I can use every week, so at times I forget it’s there as a resource.

It’s also one of the tools Desmos has created that can turn the head of a non math teacher. Since it’s pretty simple to import 16 images instead of 16 graphs, can’t it could be used to classify artistic styles and techniques, cathedral architecture, maps, biological specimens, or whatever?

Last Friday we had a PD day where a few teachers taught simulated lessons with specific techniques or activities. Each was followed by a little reflection and Q&A session. I offered up a session on Polygraph so that the rest of the school could see why the math teachers were so bonkers over an online graphing calculator and perhaps find a use for it in their classes. Continue reading