Online Teaching with Desmos: Self Checking Tasks

Howdy internet friends,

It’s been a while. That’s mostly because I haven’t really been overtly proud of anything new I’m trying this year. I’ll blame it on having spent most of the semester solo-parenting a toddler, but its really just that when life gets hectic this blog is the first thing I let go of.

That being said, right now everything is feeling very uncertain with the Covid-19 pandemic and I find comfort in helping people. So here it goes, I want to offer to the internet world something that’s been helpful for my classroom when I want to leave students with work, that provides feedback, when I am absent.

I do a lot of Card Stacks (see @MathEqualsLove blog post here) in class so students can practice new skills and get immediate feedback on how they are doing. Due to parenting a toddler and needing to be out often I started creating Desmos Activity Builder versions of these card stacks. I thought that perhaps people would like a template they can copy and edit to create their own.

Desmos Activity Builder Self-Checking Template: Card Stack Version

If you are semi-familiar with the computer coding access that you have in Desmos called Computational Layer, then you know the drill. Go ahead and edit away and be sure to adjust the input CL’s correct value.

If you’d like a tutorial, keep on reading:

Step 1:

Log into Teacher Desmos and click on the arrow by your name in the upper right corner.

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 1.22.27 PM

Step 2:

Check your Desmos Lab Settings. Click on the triangle by your name. Then click Desmos Labs. We need the Desmos CL box to be on (checked)

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 1.23.23 PM


Step 3:

Okay, now navigate to my activity here. We want to create a copy for you to edit

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 1.24.39 PM

And you will be redirected to a new window with the editing features of a Desmos Activity Builder.

Step 4:

I made the activity so you only need to adjust two parts on each slide to have the self-checking feature work. The first thing we need to adjust is the CORRECT ANSWER. Click on the gear by the input component.

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 1.25.44 PM

You will see a new window appear for editing Desmos Computational Layer code that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 1.26.16 PM

You only need to change the BLUE number. Please change the blue number 1 to what ever you want your answer to be for the question. Once you’ve completed the correctness edit, click Done. 

Step 4.5: UPDATE from 3/18

So as I am making an activity I’m realizing that I want directions in the note component. Here’s how to do that:

Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 2.28.39 PM

Then replace  the text “Enter 1” with what ever you want the directions to be for the students. Leave the code at the bottom alone.

Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 2.31.18 PM

Step 5:

Adding your question. This AB assumes that you will be taking screen shots of questions and posting the image inside of the graph component. So have all screen shots ready to go before you continue.

Click on the Graph Component

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 1.27.04 PM

And then add the image to the graph. You will need to re-center the image and scale so it can be seen.

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 1.27.35 PM

Click done once you are happy with the image. Congrats. You’ve edited one slide!

Step 6:

Do all of that again for all of the slides you want to use. If you don’t need 10 questions, delete the slides you won’t use.


Duplicate a slide, then you will need to adjust the LABELS on the components (note how mine said input9, you’d have to make an input11 for slide 11) and then update the numbers in the Cl for the NOTE (click the gear by the note) accordingly.


Have questions? Tweet me. @JennSWhite

2 thoughts on “Online Teaching with Desmos: Self Checking Tasks

  1. What if I want to have the students input an expression for their answer and not just a numerical value, what do i need to change the code to?


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