3D Desmos Designs

About a month ago I wrote about how I use Desmos Des-man to introduce an algebra graphic art project. I have done this project for several years now, but this time, I added a special twist… After making a design in Desmos, the students used Creo Parametric to create models of their designs which they 3D printed!

Step 1: I taped four sheets of graph paper together so that students would have a large work area. They chose a theme and started drawing. The only requirements I gave: there had to be at least one image per group member with at least 8 equations (at least 2 quadratic and 2 absolute value) and 2 inequalities

Step 2: Students divided up the drawing and started determining the equations. Some students physically cut their image apart so they could work on it at home.

Step 3: Students took turns inputting their equations into one Desmos calculator. This took a bit of time since the students could not all be the same calculator at once. Most of the groups would save the Desmos image as a PDF to google drive, and then share that file with their group members.

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Step 4: All of my students take an Engineering class where they learn how to use Creo Parametric. I also took a PTC STEM Certificate Program this past semester where I learned the basics of 3D modeling. I had each student start with a basic rectangle and they uploaded their Desmos image to the rectangle. Then they traced the outline and extruded the lines. That’s it! Some students who are very comfortable with Creo decided to add special features and colors.



Step 5: I printed the designs using our Stratasys uPrint machine and the students created 3-Dimensional Displays to showcase their work.

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Some groups did not complete a 3-Dimensional Display, so I will be turning their designs into magnets!

My students were so engaged in this project and so proud of the models they created. It felt so natural to have them continue working with their Desmos designs and turn them into actual 3d prints. One aspect of the project that I didn’t stress with the students this year was the scale of their models. Next year I will have students determine a group scale, so that each component of the image fits together better.

I feel very lucky to have access to a 3D printer at school, and I will be looking for new ways to bring 3D printing to my students naturally. If you have any ideas, please share!

My Take On Desman

One of my favorite course projects is the Graphic Art Project. Students will design an image on graph paper, write all the equations for it, and type them into Desmos. To intro this assignment, I have students complete my own version of the amazing Desmos Des-man activity.

Instead of having students create their own Des-man, I ask them all to recreate this picture:

The main reason I start by having all students create the same face is because this is a review activity for us. At this point in the year, students have learned to write equations for linear, absolute value, and quadratic equations. They have also studied domain and range restrictions. I want them to practice these skills, and not just guess/play with the sliders/numbers to see how the equations transform. Each student is given this sheet to show any work they did to find the equations:


The Teacher Desmos interface allows me to see very quickly who gets it and who needs help (see above). Some students will play around and choose their own colors, or add additional inequalities. When they are all done, we move on to Part 2, and I let them create their own designs. This year we are trying something special for the final product and it is still in the works… so, to be continued!

Stations Labs

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To review for major assessments, I like to set up stations labs around my classroom. They usually take about 40-60 minutes for most students to complete, though some students end up finishing some stations for homework. I make one master answer key and keep it on me during the activity. The students check in with me after completing each station so I can give them immediate feedback. If they work is completely correct, I either sign my initials or stamp their sheet, and they move onto a different station. It can be a little chaotic but I like knowing where each students stands as the period progresses. I make the students move around the room (although many would like to stay in one seat) so they are active and get a chance to work with different students. Hope your students enjoy them too!

S-L-O-P-E Stations Lab:

W-R-I-T-I-N-G Equations Stations Lab (previously written about here):

S-Y-S-T-E-M-S of Equations Stations Lab:

F-U-N-C-T-I-O-N-S Stations Lab:

A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E Value Functions Stations Lab:

Q-U-A-D-R-A-T-I-C Functions Stations Lab:

(Some formatting errors have occurred due to uploading to Scribd, hopefully they can be fixed when the documents are downloaded!)

Favorited Tweets #2

Last year I described some the tweets I had favorited here. After another lull in blogging, I thought this might be an easy way to jump back in. Here are some recent tweets that I favorited, forgot about it, and now want to document.

1) Math Coherence Activity from Achieve the Core: This activity would be great for teachers on a PD day. Teachers must place the standards in the correct progression order without looking.

2) Row Games: Kate describes them very well in her blog post, and when Rachel was looking for one on properties of Exponents, Lisa directed her to this folder with a plethora of them!

3) This awesome graph/activity from the Shell Centre written about by Megan and tweeted about by Cliff.

4) CueThink: This tweet below from Caryn Trautz and this blog post from Andrew Stadel were my first introductions to CueThink.

Norma Gordon from CueThink has since presented at the Global Math Department and you can find the webinar here. It’s an app that will change the way our students communicate, problem solve, and receive feedback. Check. It. Out.

Big Dreams Small Steps

Last week I had the privilege of visiting High Tech High in San Diego as part of a 12 member team from my district. It was Exhilarating. Eye-opening. Invigorating. Rewarding. Productive. Positive. And because of that, I’m scared to go back to school tomorrow.

This string art is a representation of each member of this [High Tech High] team as well as you, the community. We are all capable of creating great changes.

This string art is a representation of each member of this [High Tech High] team as well as you, the community. We are all capable of creating great changes.

How do you accurately share these emotions with colleagues who didn’t make the trip? How do you turn all of these emotions into change? It was overwhelming to experience, and there were definitely moments of questioning: How are we going to do this at our school?

Our students are not electing to be here. Our teachers didn’t sign up for project-based learning. We don’t currently have technology for all. The list could go on and on, but these are complaints instead of solutions, and I’m not ready to hear them. They shouldn’t matter. They don’t matter.

I’m not naive. I know that we have to be realistic about our circumstances. But realism shouldn’t correlate with negativism. I love my district. We do many great things here. And we will continue to do great things. But we have to be willing to make changes along the way and admit that we always can and should be striving to get better every day.

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Sitting around the fire pit after touring HTH Chula Vista, we debriefed by sharing small, immediate changes that we know we can make. You have to start somewhere. My first change: making our projects have a more meaningful impact on our community. As our student tour guide stated, “Why would you even do a project if it doesn’t mean anything?” It was a theme heard constantly during our visit and one that will have a strong, positive impact on doing projects for our students.

“You need to have the courage to mess up,” shared one HTHCV Biology Teacher. Although a part of me is fearful for the work that lies ahead, I know that we can do it, and I know that we have to do it… Together.

Becoming a Better Teacher

Originally posted on MPS Mission to High Tech High:

Watching other teachers teach is one of the best, if not THE best, form of professional development. Visiting countless classrooms at both High Tech High campuses reminded me of many great instructional practices that I need to use more in my classroom, and gave me many new strategies to begin to implement.

1) Several teachers had playing cards taped to the corners of the student’s tables. During class, the teacher pulls a random card from the deck and that student answers the question or shares an opinion. The goal is to increase student participation and include everyone. It works better than pulling Popsicle sticks because playing cards give a teacher more options. In addition to pulling one card for a particular question, the teacher can say, “Turn and talk with your neighbor about _________, red cards speak first.” During group work, “Can all diamonds please grab the materials for your…

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Global Math Department TweetUp Boston




When: Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 4 pm

: Cornwall’s Pub, 654 Beacon Street, Boston MA

What: Connect or reconnect with math tweeps, share practices/experiences/tips, play pool/board games, MATH!

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