The card sort component in the Desmos Activity Builder is awesome without question. It doesn't take a deep dive into twitter to see how many teachers have benefitted from the deep discussions and understanding these activities produce.
At it's core, the card sort is everything that is great about Desmos. It takes a classic activity, one that is already great on paper and uses the tech to make it better. Teachers can create each card by editing a graph via Desmos, by typing in math or text, or even by uploading their own image to the card. Answer keys can be created by dragging and dropping the correct cards together or can be left off to provide more open discussion. It's no wonder why the quality of the activities, combined with the efforts of champions like Cathy Yenca (twitter: @mathycathy) have led to an abundance of resources. Simply put, people love card sorts and LOVE building their own for their classrooms.
You can find a list of Cathy's activities here: https://list.ly/l/1EF5
The use of the teacher dashboard has always been a great way to provide feedback to students as they complete their activities. In addition to the green and red progress markers for each student, the teacher view will show commonly grouped cards an even the most commonly group incorrect cards (if you made an answer key). A skilled teacher can use these tools to show and hide progress from the class and use the class data to generate discussion that would not be possible without Desmos identifying common groupings. Here the tech, in my opinion does just enough to make these digital card sorts significantly better than their paper cousin without being overly helpful to students. A good card sort will create controversy and force communication rather than allow students to sit quietly at their own computers. Still, the greatest strength of the card sort lies in it's simplicity. All that is needed to provide feedback to your students as they complete their sorts is a projection device (projector or TV) and a view of the dashboard:
Recently, however, many teachers have been asking for a more student-facing approach to providing feedback through the use of the Computation Layer. This up to a few weeks ago was not possible, but as always Desmos came through with the people's requests and released two new features that can be used by anyone to provide feedback in the student view. Check them out here.
Before digging into the use of these new features I do need to say a few things. First, I still mightily prefer to use the projection of the dashboard over providing text based feedback in the student view. Not only is the dashboard feedback much more visually delightful, but it provides a great balance of guess and check vs. productive feedback and keeps the class centrally focused rather than staring at individual screens. Second, it is my opinion (and not necessarily that of Desmos) that if you are planning to use this type of student facing feedback that you enforce a 2 students to 1 computer as strictly as possible. Let's not lose the quality of discussion by allowing students to work silently with an answer key in front of them.
That being said, here are my observations so far:
- I am delighted to see the concern teachers have shown not only for preventing the new features as a method of guess and check, but as a detractor to deep thinking and discussion between classmates. quoting Bob Lochel (twitter: @bobloch): "I don't need card sorts to become instant feedback engines. And you are right that I would suddenly see all "green". Rather, I could see pacing students to a card sort, finding a few commonly-missed items, then let them reflect upon individual results."
- I am keenly interested to see what comes up as more ways to reveal this feedback are discovered. So far I have seen examples ranging from the use of a subtitle to display the number of correct cards, to keeping the feedback on a separate screen (to be paced to later) to providing a button that will reveal feedback only a given number of times. I can only assume here that it will take many hours in real classrooms to find the correct answer.
For now, here are three options that might be a start:
(Thank you @MeganHeine for the original card sort)
As of right now I am 0% confident that any of these will be close to good solutions, but I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else has to think! I also have another crazy idea that involves using aggregate. Try it out: