Using Desmos with Primary Students!

Like so many math teachers, I LOVE Desmos! I tell everyone who will listen that they should be using it. I used it myself when I was in the classroom teaching middle schoolers. The graphing calculator is such a fabulous tool and the Desmos created activities are so engaging and awesome.

As I've learned more about activity builder and moved into a K-8 instructional coaching role, I started to think about how it could be used in younger grades. I love the power of card sorts for all levels, so having that option in Desmos really sets it apart from some other platforms that teachers might already be using like ClassKick and Formative (which I love as well!).

Recently, I was asked to model a few lessons in classrooms. I started in a 5th grade classroom, and it seemed like a good fit to use Desmos as part of an activity. I included a card sort as well as some open response questions. It went well! Next, I was headed to a 1st grade classroom. They were learning about telling time. This was out of my comfort zone, as I've never taught 1st grade or telling time! But, I immediately thought about a card sort and using Desmos. Want to see the full activity? Go to and use the code: JB4JE 

Teachers loved what they could see from the teacher dashboard. You can see "green" where kids are on track and "red" to let you know if there is something mismatched.

 I also added some images where students had to draw in the clock hands to show different times. Using the feature to show "sketch overlay" was awesome for this. Look at all the student responses for drawing the hands for 6 o'clock!

Teachers could quickly see that students were doing pretty well with this one!

They had a little more trouble with 3 o'clock. This was great information for teachers to have. It helped up make instructional decisions in the moment! We were able to check in with kids that were having trouble and bring mistakes to the group to try and figure out what each other was thinking.

Another benefit to doing an activity using Desmos is that you could restrict the slides that kids could be on and the "pause" feature. This is definitely a tool that I'm going to recommend to more primary teachers that I work with!