Desmos Pet House: A Linear {and Not-So-Linear} Project

It all started with this tweet, and the rest is mash-up #MTBoS history.  Thanks to all who shared and shaped the final draft of this project!

Math 8 students set a firm algebraic foundation for linear concepts.  Included in Math 8 Texas TEKS are the following Readiness Standards:

  • 8.4(B) Graph proportional relationships, interpreting the unit rate as the slope of the line that models the relationship
  • 8.4(C) Use data from a table or graph to determine the rate of change or slope and y-intercept in mathematical and real-world problems 
  • 8.5(I) Write an equation in the form y = mx + b to model a linear  relationship between two quantities using verbal, numerical, tabular, and graphical representations 

Mom Brag: My colleague also used this project with his Math 8 students. Here’s my son’s creation!

To prepare Math 8 students for future linear studies in Algebra 1, Desmos Pet House, a math-meets-art-meets-coding project, began as a seemingly simplistic graph paper sketch.  However, the open task proved to be a “low floor, high ceiling” experience that whisked students into the world of linear functions, linear inequalities, restrictions on the domain and range, and even animations!  Desmos provides a platform for instant visual feedback for the algebraic “code” students wrote.  

The Project in a Nutshell:

  1. Students sketch a “pet house” rough draft using graph paper, labeling the slopes of all line segments on the sketch.
  2. After draft approval, students gain access to a Desmos activity where brief tutorials help them explore new graphing skills.
  3. Students recreate the draft “pet house” using linear function “code” in Desmos.

As my Math 8 students explored and discovered how the mathematics they wrote impacted the math-art they created, their hunger for more math extended the due date for the final project repeatedly.  They didn’t want to stop!  Thanks to the teacher dashboard in the Desmos “Activity Builder” platform, students could view one another’s projects in progress as they worked during class, creating a constant collaborative atmosphere of, “How’d you DO that?”

After exploring restrictions on the domain and range of linear functions using Desmos, students met the linear expectations of the “pet house” quite quickly.  However, the project didn’t end when students met the minimum requirements.  Rather, students wanted to include nonlinear elements in their houses, shade various regions with color, and even animate their pets!  Essentially, students had created their own “problems” when they designed their houses, and through research and experimentation, they solved the problems that they, themselves, had created.  Ownership win!

To access the project description, rubric, and Desmos Activity where students will ultimately create a “pet house”, visit this link.

To see project showcases for each class, check out the videos below!  Each video showcase was created exclusively on my iPad using Apple’s Clips app.  I took screenshots and screen recordings of student work from teacher.desmos.com, right on my iPad, and used this media to create the #ClassroomClips.

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