Desmos: Reading Pacing, Data & Insights

I wrote about how EZ it was to create simple flashcards using Desmos, and mentioned that I was using it with reading. Here’s a bit more on getting that set up and what it all looks like from the teacher dashboard during class. You don’t need to use many features at all. Just go to Your Activities, Custom, then New Activity to start…

There are a lot of mathy options, obviously, but I only use a) Image for grabbing a screenshot of existing text, b) Text Input for making a glossary, and c) Multiple Choice/Checkboxes for simple tasks and a little bit of data. You’ll also notice the Card Sort option at the bottom for making flashcards. Up at the top is where you add pages to the activity. That’s it!

When you’re done, get a Single Session Code under “Assign:”

Then click “View Dashboard” to get the link to send students, as well as see the teacher side of things:

Keep in mind that “a little goes a long way.” In my activity with just 5 pages from my purple person who purples novella, most students were only about halfway through after 10 minutes or so, which you can see from the teacher dashboard screenshot below. Of course, that’s probably because this was only their 20th class of first year Latin, but I wouldn’t want to spend more than 15 minutes on this kind of independent activity anyway, so creating much more would’ve been a waste. To that point, I’ve seen teachers pressured to “get through” what they created—BECAUSE—they created it, not because it’s what the students need at the time. N.B. the “anonymize” button was clicked and is showing random names—great for screensharing progress to whole class, as well as showing you fine folks what it looks like.

Data & Insight
Since I included complete glossaries, I wanted to know how students were using them. Hence, the multiple choice/checkboxes. In this screenshot (also with anonymized names), you’ll see that most of the students have been reading outside of class, referring to some of the glossary words. Safe to say that those other 8 students could be reading more, which is not at all surprising.

In this screenshot from the next text page, students were asked to check-off words they needed the glossary for. You’ll notice that many students were tripped up by “suddenly.” Luckily, not one student had to look up “is.” Top five verbs for the win, right?! Anyway, these kind of “read & ____” quick tasks are giving me way more insight than any comprehension questions I would’ve come up with. For those, I do real time Quick Quizzes, utilizing the polling feature of Zoom if I don’t need a record, and a simple Google Form if I do.

To check this out as a student, give it a try:

To check this out as a teacher, click these:

6 thoughts on “Desmos: Reading Pacing, Data & Insights

  1. salve, magister p!

    Would you be willing to share a link to a Desmos example activity to give me a better idea of how this, and your flashcard blitz activity come together on the teacher-prep side of things?

    ¡gratias tibiam!

  2. Well, this is a neat tool that I shall be adding to my bag of tricks!

    Are you familiar with Quizizz? I like it for vocab practice or to give tests. I like that it is easy to upload images, so you can stay completely in target language and images, no English – which I think is helpful. With the pro version, you can embed audio, which is neat as well… It’s a little simpler than Desmos – but still pretty handy!

    • I have heard of Quizziz, yes, and in writing about Desmos I know there are a handful of apps to choose from that all do the following, but are mostly teacher preference:
      1) real time teacher dashboard
      2) no new login for students
      3) drag & drop EZ activity creation

      I don’t give tests, though, and I certainly wouldn’t do it while remote. I’ve accepted that what we get from students might just come from Google or other resources. Images don’t solve that; it just makes it a longer process (e.g. students can still type into Translate vs. copy/paste). I’m not actually overly concerned with the use of English at all. English connects meaning, and I wouldn’t deny students access to it. In fact, I include full glossaries on the pages with texts so students have all the tools to read on their own. This is a core principle of comprehension-based teaching, though, which might distinguish from other kinds of teaching, such as “immersion.”

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