WUX up?!? Teaching Piecewise Functions remotely using Desmos

Today seemed to go really well. Students were submitting their Desmos Graphs in a shared Google Slide deck. After throwing piecewise functions, parent functions, and transformations at them in week 1 of online schooling, I thought it would be great to do something more interactive, more creative, and more collaborative with them than what I’d been doing so far.

I asked them to write the word WUX (a totally made-up word) using Desmos. We started out together and I helped them through W and U, with choosing a parent function, translating it to where we wanted it, applying a stretch factor to make it the shape we wanted, and limiting the domain and/or range to get the piece that we wanted. Glorious.

Once I got them started, I challenged them to go beyond the core piece of following my lead and to take some ownership of their project to change the location, the range, the colors, etc. I challenged them to help each other and ask for help. I want to get those conversations going. I challenged them to be creative and maybe do another word or their name.

I love these open types of activities. Kids will inevitably teach me something new or ask something that requires me to do some research. So, everyone is learning. It’s an opportunity to partner students and get to know them.

This was a super simple idea but was a great way to spend part of the period. I had students download their work and add it to a slide show. After 30-40 minutes and you have a slide deck with submissions for everyone. Here are a few of the graphs people made. We are just getting started with this and I’m hoping to see students enjoy the challenge of creating and customizing with Desmos.

Here’s a link to my Desmos graph and equations, if it gives you any ideas:

My graph and equations in Desmos: https://www.desmos.com/calculator/rvmna70gg5

And here’s a link to a (terrible) video I made about piece-wise functions, but it shows you how to do them in Desmos and how to use some of the sharing options in Desmos.

Video: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cYjw3XHfZO