The creative team at Desmos continue to develop engaging lessons using their Activity Builder interface, found at teacher.desmos.com. While teachers I encounter have their own favorite activity, many desire to dive in and create their own. But building your own activity, testing it, and hoping it works with your class can be an intimidating task (pro-tip: making your own activity is really hard!). But there are a few simple ways teachers can use Activity Builder as a mechanism for formative assessment. Here. I share 4 quick and easy ideas – you can check them out and observe their structure at this link.
SELF-CHECKING GRAPH MATCHING
I used this often with my Pre-Calculus class in the fall, and the concept works equally well with younger students. Simply start a new Activity Builder screen, and enter the equation you’d like students to provide. Place the equation in a folder, which you can hide so students won’t see it when they encounter the screen. Finally, by making the graph with dashed lines, students can easily see if their submission matches the requested graph, and can adjust accordingly.
Here’s a neat Activity Builder hack you may not know about. If you have an existing Desmos graph, copy the URL from your graph to the clipboard. Then, in an Activity Builder screen click the “Graph” button and paste the URL into the first expression line – and PRESTO, the graph is imported into an Activity Builder screen. I often collect student work by simply having them submit a Desmos URL. Consider taking samples of student works and create a virtual gallery walk. Let students view each other’s ideas, comment and make suggestions. Thanks to my colleague DJ for providing neat student graphs!
SELF-ASSESSMENT SLIDERS…AND OVERLAY
Have students assess their own learning with a moveable point. Provide an “I can…” prompt and let students consider where they fall in the learning progression. Hold a class-wide discussion of unit skills by anonymizing student names and using the overlay feature to take the class pulse on skills.
MY FAVORITE DISTRACTOR
Activity Builder allows teachers to build their own multiple-choice questions, with the option of having students provide an explanation for the choice they make. In “My Favorite Distractor”, students select an answer they KNOW is wrong, and explain how they know. This may not work for many multiple-choice type questions, but consider using this idea in situations where the distractors have clear, interesting rationales for elimination.
Have your own quick formative assessment ideas? Share it here!