Desmos Card Sorts


While at Twitter Math Camp this summer, I learned that Desmos launched a new card sort feature on the site. I love Desmos! If you have ever heard Sara Vanderwerf talk about Desmos, you will also love Desmos! Check out her blog at I took this card sort activity idea back to my school and my mentor thought that it would be awesome for all of the teachers to see and experience. I thought that I would write a blog post to show them how to create their own card sorts.

First, go to the site. We need to make sure that you have a Desmos account. Choose Create an account from the upper right corner.

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You will then either need to create an account or log in with your google account. If you do not use google, choose a user name and password and enter your email address.Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 10.56.07 PM

Once you are in, you will need to make sure that your account has access to the card sort activities. In the upper right corner, click on your name and choose Desmos Labs.

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Once in, check the box to enable card sorts. (While you’re here you can also choose to enable marble slides, more on that another time!)

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Now it’s time to start making our first card sort. On the left side of the screen under ‘Your Activities’ you want to choose custom.

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Then in the upper right corner choose New Activity.

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Start by adding a title and click “Start Building.”

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You will end up at a screen like this one.

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From here choose Labs and then choose Card Sort.

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You are now ready to create your card sort. To help expedite this posting, I have created a video of me actually creating my card sort so that you can follow along.

After you create each of your cards, you will need to make sure that you add an answer key for each card sort you create. You can see the “Add an answer key” button in blue. Once you create it, you click the done button in the upper right corner.

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Once you have created your card sorts, you will need to create a class code. Students will go to to log into the card sort and sign in to participate. (There is an option to have students skip log-in and just enter their name.) Students will need a class code. It looks like this:

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Once students are in, it’s pretty simple to follow along. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or get it touch with the people at Desmos. They are awesome at answering questions!!



The 8th graders have recently been spending time learning to work with scatterplots. We reviewed scatterplots and what they looked like. The students are very competent in graphing points on the scatterplots. They had seen lines of best fit before but were struggling with the purpose of these lines.

We started with a review of some definitions. We talked about how the line of best fit could help us make a prediction of what to expect from the data. We then practiced drawing lines of best fit and creating equations for those lines.

I found an activity in the MTB0S about celebrity age guessing and making lines of best fit. I started by explaining to my students that I used to work at Valleyfair (a family amusement park in Shakopee, Minnesota.) I told them about my distaste of the guy that stood by the scale and tried to guess peoples age or weight. Basically he was/is annoying because he is constantly talking! I told them that I wanted to see if any of them could be the better guessers of age than he was. We went through a powerpoint of celebrities and students guessed the celebrities ages. They LOVED this! They also got into the idea of competing to see who would be the better guesser.

Once they had made all of their guesses, they spent some time entering their data into a table on Desmos. I they taught them how to create a line of best fit in slope-intercept form using sliders for m and b. We then exported their pictures to a padlet page where we could look at all the lines of best fit together. This was about all the time that we had, so we didn’t get to voting on who was the best guesser, but they still enjoyed working with Desmos and guessing peoples ages. It also made it so that they all had different answers to the problems and couldn’t copy what their friends answered.

I moved on to an activity from Math=Love about Best Line of Best Fit. We started with a desmos file that had a scatterplot already created on it. I printed this off for my students and they wrote directly on the paper to create lines of best fit. There was a five minute individual work time followed by some table time where they worked. The students had to create the equation for their line of best fit and since I only had one computer, I entered everyone’s equation in. This was a little time consuming since once I wrote the equation in and they saw it on the screen they thought they could make it better. I gave them some more time at their table to perfect their line of best fit and adjusted the equation in Desmos according to their specifications.

I was the only adult in the classroom so we did not have an unbiased judge, but some of the students got into the competitive nature of this activity. We displayed two lines of best fit and then had a discussion as a class about which line was better and why. We got very picky about which line we preferred. I also threw in some lines that were poor choices to see how they responded. (They rocked these problems!)

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Our Best Lines of Best Fit Contest (there were a couple more, but I forgot to click save.)

Our scatterplot unit ended with using some of the worksheets that I got off of teachers pay teachers that guided the students through creating equations of lines of best fit. These were nice because the students had to graph the points and then had to draw the line of best fit before deciding on the slope. Once they created their line of best fit, they had to use the line to determine what the data would yield for an unknown quantity. Here’s a link to the product by Mathink.

Thought for next year… my students tend to believe that the line of best fit has to have at least one or two dots on the line. This does make it easier for when they have to pick points that are on the line of best fit they can easily calculate slope. This is a challenge though since lines of best fit do not always have a point from the data set that lands directly on them.


Multiple Choice Grading Technology


While I do not like giving multiple choice assessments, my school requires a specific benchmark assessment be given every month. These assessments are multiple choice and I HATE GRADING THEM!!! It is painful to sit down and spend my time trying to grade these assessments and even more painful knowing that there is something else more valuable that I could be doing with my time.

I recently spent some time finding a scantron type of app that I could use to eliminate this task from my grading ritual. I found two options available that I could use easily in my classroom. There are more and I know they exist, I just haven’t had a chance to explore their features yet.


Platform: Any device that connects to the internet.

Pricing: There are three options with Gradecam.

  • Insight Basic – Free – limits teachers to 10 questions per assessment and does not include standard alignment or exporting options.
  • Insight Plus – $15/month a teacher – Allows up to 100 questions per assignment. This version allows you to align to state standards or common core standards. You can also export to excel, csv, or into some gradebook software.
  • Insight School/District – $2.50/year a student – All the features of Insight Plus and you can share assignments between teachers and create custom benchmarks.

I got a three month trial of Gradecam when I signed up and when I referred several other teachers my trial was extended. The feature that I like the most about Gradecam is that I can grade on every device I own. I can use my phone, my ipad, and I can use the camera on my computer.


Platform: You can only scan from a mobile device but you can access your results on the web.

Pricing: With Zipgrade you get access to the full range of features with the free demo. The demo allows you to scan up to 100 quizzes before being charged. Otherwise it is a paid app.

  • 2 months for $1.99
  • 1 year for $6.99
  • Or the Zipgrade VPP app is $12.99 one time and vaild forever.

The advantage of Zipgrade is the ability to tag either an entire quiz or a single question as assessing a benchmark or standard. This then creates a record of everything that the benchmark is assessed and a student’s ongoing progress toward meeting that benchmark. I love this part of the program. It is a bit clumsy right now but the data is some of my favorite data that I can access. I was in the process of creating a spreadsheet that I could use to track this information and I found the program that did it for me!