Earlier this year, I wrote a Desmos activity called Home Run Kings. Here’s the blurb from the activity page:
In this activity, students interpret quantitative data in order to predict whether Bryce Harper—a promising young professional baseball player—will break the all time record for most career home runs.
I like some things in the activity. I’m not so sure about others. I wonder if you’ll help me give it an upgrade?
I’ll start by adding some screen-by-screen commentary. After that, here’s how you can help. Let me know…
- What you like
- What you don’t
- What you’d add/edit/remove
Bonus points if you try this out with students and share a summary of their feedback!
A few words (and an image) to set the context.
I offer students a bit more context (in this case, a graph showing Harper’s home run totals for the first few years of his career) and ask them what they notice. While I’m interested in the full range of responses, I’m expecting quite a few students to focus on the big jump from 21 to 22 years.
Next up, I use a sketch screen to capture informal student thinking about the relationship between home runs and player age. One of the things I love about sketch is that students don’t have to worry about function families, equations, formal domain restrictions, or anything. Just sketch the relationship. (Side note: Don’t conflate formality with richness, here or in other activities. There’s plenty of fodder for rich discussion, uncovering misconceptions, and developing ideas in informal student responses—sketches and otherwise. Of course, building toward formality is a noble goal, but informality is a great place to build from. This concludes my soap box tangent.)
We’ll circle back to Bryce Harper in a moment. But first, a screen to draw out student observations on a pair of graphs showing full (and home run-prolific) careers. The heart of this activity is all about interpreting graphs in context. My hope is that this screen helps move students along toward that objective.
Here I bring Harper back, with five other players’ career totals shown. I’m concerned that there’s too much going on visually on this screen. Would you second that thought? Or push back against it?
Concerns aside… This screen asks students to use the graphs to pick a side and defend their answer. Actually, it asks them to play their own devil’s advocate and construct an argument on both sides. Too much for one screen? Again, I’d love your input here.
The reveal. Not as flashy as some other things I’ve seen online. All I could muster is a screenshot. Any thoughts on how to improve the reveal here? Or does this simple approach serve its purpose?
One challenge I’ve had in thinking through how Desmos activities might play out in other teachers’ classrooms is how best to communicate “Hey, a discussion would be really great right here!” We use teacher tips to that effect. (Successfully? I’m not sure.) But I’ve also tinkered with a discussion-prompting screen like this one a few times as well.
I’ve made a habit of including an extension or two at the end of Desmos activities to allow students who finish a bit earlier to occupy themselves with something related and worthwhile as classmates finish the core part of the activity. And to allow teachers to assign some followup thinking/exploring for home.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on that approach in general, as well as how it plays out in this particular activity. (Though, based on the screen title, it seems I had plans for a second part of the extension that I never got around to building.)
What did you like/dislike? What would you change? Thanks in advance for your comments below and on the Twitter.