Collaboration Tip 2: Don’t. Touch. Your. Computer!

The other day, I had the pleasure of running the Desmos Activity Builder, Nets & Surface Area: Rectangular Prisms, with Mrs. Keser’s 6th grade math classes.  I’ve updated the opening of the activity, since I first wrote about it back in 2016 (see previous post). The updated slides add more clarity on how to use the net tool and better prepares the students for the challenges.

An interesting class reaction was the impetus for this post.

Slide 1:  For slide one, students were instructed to enter the dimensions for the blue and red rectangles. When I checked the teacher dashboard, the first three responses where not only incorrect but also very different. The lack of consistency was a serious red flag. Multiple misconceptions were apparent..  Time for a conversation.

A two dimensional net of a rectangular prism

Slide 1 from the activity showing a 2-dimensional net for a rectangular prism.

As a whole class, we highlighted the given information and clarified the question.  Then I gave the following instructions, “I’d like you to take the next minute and talk with your group members to figure out the dimensions of the blue and red rectangles. Time starts now.”



Every single student turned to their computer and started typing!

I interjected, “Stop.  Hands off the computer. Don’t. Touch. Your. Computer.” Once I had their attention, I added, “For the next minute, you are not allowed to type.  You must talk with your group members.  I will let you know when it’s time to enter your answer into the computer. Time starts now.”

Conversations began.  Students pointed to their computer screens while sharing their thinking.  Others tilted their computer toward their group members.  Students leaned in to listen and see up close what their classmate was pointing to.  No one typed. 🙂

After a minute, students were given the signal to enter their responses. This time around the answers were correct.Red rectangle: 2 units by 1 unit. Blue rectangle: 3 units by 1 unit

You may be wondering why I didn’t use the pause button.  I could have but, I wanted students to talk about the image on their screen.  Although the pause button doesn’t black out the screen, it does cause the screen to go gray.  For this question, I didn’t want anything to interfere with the visual – therefore no pause button.


Side Note – Updated Screens

Slides 2 – 4:  These three slides were designed to help students the take note of the parts of a rectangular prism net, how the parts are connected and how the connected parts influence how a net increases or decreases in size.

Image of Slide 4. The title of the slide is, "What happens who you move the black dot? Enter your observations below."

Explanation:  The black and red rectangles expand one while you move the black dot but the blue square between the black rectangles moves but doesn't expand.


The black and red shape gets longer. The blue shape stays the same size and just shifts.






About jgvadnais

Instructional Technology Coach. Desmos Fellow. Google Level 1 Certified. SoCal transplant. New Englander at heart. Lover of yoga, dogs, green smoothies and coffee creamer
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