Scenes from AB: Help from the class

One question I often get from teachers in Desmos PD sessions is whether they can turn off the option for students to see other responses from the class when they submit a text or choice response.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 11.35.21 PMSo first off, yes you can turn it on or off. When using the text input or multiple choice, you can check or uncheck the box to allow students to see 3 random responses when they submit their answer.

Teachers will often express concern that students will just copy answers off each other. I hear that. Every choice a teacher makes in a lesson’s design (whether using technology or not) should have a reason behind it, and whether you check that box or uncheck it, you should know why that particular response should or shouldn’t allow that kind of feedback. 

My general strategy is that earlier introductory questions will allow for seeing the responses, and later, more challenging prompts may not allow for it. I also tell students that I am perfectly happy with them changing their response once they see classmates’ responses, but only if they understand why the revised response is better. I will describe times in the past where the whole class has a the same wrong answer all because a bad response spreads like a virus because a trusted student in the class had it first.

So that brings me to a brief observation I made this week in class. My Calc students were working through this activity on limits. In a stealthy manner, I watched a student complete screen 3 over.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 11.44.41 PM.png

He quickly selected “not defined” and when prompted, described how that open point tells us there is a discontinuity and thus g(0) is undefined. He hit enter and was shown something like this.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 11.49.39 PM

He immediately nodded his head and sighed an “oh right!” sigh. He changed his answer to “1” with this explanation.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 11.51.37 PM

One of my 13 mantras in class is that “mathematics is a social endeavor.” One of the reasons I have a Desmos sticker on the back of my car is that they fold that philosophy into Activity Builder and give teachers the option to let that student interaction weave into a student’s struggle.

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