Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A full year set of 36 weekly Marbleslide Challenges!

Here is the full set of 36 Marbleslide Challenges I'll be using at my school this year:

Marbleslide Challenge Set

Important tip!

Before doing these challenges with your classes, I'd highly recommend running through at least one of the original Desmos Marbleslides activities with them (Lines, Parabolas, Exponentials, Rationals or Periodics):

Poster templates!(Update) 
Jessica was awesome and made poster templates for each challenge and for the weekly scoreboard. You can make a copy here.


These challenges should work for students of all levels from Algebra 1 onward (and they are even fun and challenging for teachers too!)  Each challenge should be possible to complete using linear equations, but can be solved more elegantly with higher level equations. If students aren't being challenged enough, encourage them to use fewer and more sophisticated equations.  The difficulty increases as the challenges go on, so you might want to leave older challenges open all year and encourage students not to skip too many.

Unlocking Challenges each week
You can use the teacher pacing option on the teacher dashboard to restrict students to the first 3 slides to start, then each week go back into the activity to unlock the next challenge using teacher pacing again.  Not sure how to use teacher pacing? More info here.  You could also just consider giving them the entire challenge set unlocked, and if you do let me know because I'm interested to see how that goes!

I give these as an optional activity for students to work on if they have some extra time in class or just on their own time.  You might even consider it as a fun optional alternative to certain homework assignments. You could not score them if it's too much work, but they love having their answers highlighted and the competition and you can just score the best few.  At the end of each week I make a quick scoreboard for the top scorers and post it with a screenshot of the some of the more interesting graphs. Here's how I score them:
  • 1 point for each star
  • 1 extra point if they use only 2 equations
  • 2 extra points if they use only 1 equation
  • 1-2 points if they have a particularly creative solution. This could be creative mathematically or artistically. 
  • 1 point if their solution is very consistent (If you watch a student's solution it might not work perfectly because there is some variation depending on your screen size.  If there's doesn't look like it get all the stars but your dashboard says they did, trust the dashboard)

You might want to consider giving out prizes for students who get all the stars each week.  Some teachers are giving out Desmos stickers this year, and I was giving out treats last year while school policy allowed for it.

You can hide students using the gear button in the teacher dashboard if you want to highlight or screenshot awesome answers, but make sure to not forget about those hidden students in following weeks!  If you have large classes, you might want to split them into different class codes to make things more manageable.

The Learning
What I loved about doing Marbleslides Challenges last year was that it gave some of my students the need and motivation to learn and explore all sorts of graphs and equations outside the regular scope of class. Last year I had students figuring out how to use and transform equations that they wouldn't learn about for years in regular school curriculum.  Every once in awhile I'd give them a tiny little piece of info to move them forward "Oh here's an equation that looks cool" or "Hey, it's a little easier to work with that function if it's in this form" and then let them figure out the rest.

If you have need help getting started or have any questions leave a comment here or tweet at me @SweenWSweens . Feel free to tweak things however you think will work best for you, and let me know what works and doesn't in the comments!

Special thanks to Julie who had the awesome idea of putting Marbleslide Challenges together in one activity and then managing the year with Desmos Activity Builder's teacher pacing option.  I loved the idea, and got these challenges together quickly for the start of the school year as a result!


  1. Thank you for putting this together!!! While you mentioned this being appropriate for Algebra 1 and higher because of the linear equations, I am going to open it up to my 7CC and 8CC students and see what happens. I "think" it will work for the same reasons you mentioned above...having students work to figure it out even though they won't learn the topic for a few years. I appreciate your time and we will see how the challenge goes!

  2. Thanks. I copied it and have it set up for my students, giving you credit of course.

  3. This is a great idea and great activity. Extra credit is always a big hit. These marbleslides are killer!