Equivalent Ratios: Desmos Challenge Creator


Recently a colleague expressed dismay regarding one of her classes.  Her students were not engaged and she was looking for ways to pique their interest. I had an idea. This post outlines the equivalent ratios activity created for her students.


Challenge Creator

Desmos has many activities that utilize their challenge creator technology.  Typically, students are lead through an AB and end with a challenger creator.  Lately, I’ve been tinkering with the idea of the AB is only a challenger creator.

The Challenge Creator technology allows the author of the AB to provide students with targeted choices that result in a personalized task aligned with the content standard.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 9.31.11 AM

This page indicates students will be creating their own challenge


The Activity

Screen 1 – Choice 1: Students had to select which items to compare.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 9.35.33 AM

Screen 2 – Choice 2: Students had to pick one of the two selected items. This choice, unbeknownst to the student, dictates which variable will corresponds to the x-axis and which corresponds to the y-axis.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 9.35.46 AM

Screen 3 – Choice 3: Students had to move the point to the desired location.  This screen determines the ratio to be used for the challenge.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 9.36.19 AM

Screen 4 – The Created Challenge:  Each choice had a part in creating the final task. They are presented with the opportunity to create equivalent ratios using the context of choice.

Notice that the Submit Challenge button is not activated. Students have to solve their personalized challenge correctly before submitting it to the Class Gallery.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 9.36.40 AM

Built-in Feedback: Students are clever.  We have to be one step ahead of them.  After a few failed challenge creator attempts, I’ve learned to build in checks and balances.  For this task, students can’t get away with entering the same ratio.  If they try, a feedback message will pop up ask them to create an equivalent ratio.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 10.10.21 AM.png

Students can use the graph to determine which ratio is incorrect.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 10.17.53 AM

The Submit Challenge button will only activate if the two ratios are equivalent and the Check Ratio button is pressed.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 10.14.39 AM

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 10.14.45 AM

Class Gallery

Once a student submits a challenge, she gains access to her classmates’ challenges.  Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 10.44.29 AMStudents can click on a peer’s challenge and create equivalent ratios for a new situation. In most classes, I ask students to record their work on a sheet of paper.  It allows me to better assess learning as I circulate the room.

Warning:  I’ve run Challenge Creators with and without anonymous mode.  Lately, I’ve been leaning toward anonymous mode.  I’ve had a few instances where students were hyperfocused on how many people were attempting or not attempting their challenge.  The focus was clearly moving away from the math and negatively affecting student learning.  During the 2 lessons where switched midstream from student name to anonymous mode, I addressed my decision with students (gr 4 and 2).  They understood.  Since I’m a guest teacher, I’m not able to do the required work necessary to establish long term understanding and acceptance of class norms.  Therefore,  I now start in anonymous mode.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 10.46.44 AMReflection Screen:

The last screen asks students to reflect.  Here are some of their thoughts.

What stood out to me:  The students

  • knew more about ratios at the end of the period than at the beginning.
  • enjoyed themselves
  • felt more confident about ratios
  • still, question their future understanding of math.

Positive:  My colleague’s students loved creating and solving their own challenge.  The next day, when I wasn’t there, her students asked to do it again.  Students who are not typically engaged in math were asking to create and solve math problems.  That’s a win!

Here’s the activity:  Equivalent Ratios – Challenger Creator.


Thanks go out to fellow Desmos Fellow, David Petro, for helping me refine this activity.  He blogs at ontariomath.blogspot.com.




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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