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Alice Keeler

How to Personalize a Desmos Lesson

Desmos Classroom is a game changer for interactive teaching and exploration. Go one step further with personalizing the lesson with the students' name. Here is a how to personalize a Desmos lesson.
How to Personalize a Desmos Lesson

Desmos is more than a calculator. It has a lesson facilitation tool that honestly can be used by any subject teacher, not just math teachers. teacher.desmos.com allows you to create custom activities from scratch. You can also take a pre-made lesson and modify it. I like to modify the lessons to include the students name. To personalize a Desmos lesson with the students name you need to do a tiny bit of work with the Computation Layer (CL). Here are the directions:

Screenshot of the dashboard of a Desmos lesson. Shows buttons of anonymized, pace, sync to me, and pause. Tiles of the lesson slides are visible along with a list of student names and their progress on each tile. How to Personalize a Desmos Lesson

How to Personalize a Desmos Lesson

You can capture a students name by asking them in a free response box. Use this information to personalize the titles, directions, and feedback throughout the lesson. Click here for sample.

How to Personalize a Desmos Lesson is shown in this screenshot where the question asks for student name and then it says hello alice, please go to the next page when alice was entered as the name.

1. Go to teacher.desmos.com

Log in with your Google account. Teacher accounts are FREE.

2. Choose “Custom Activities” on the left.

In the navbar on the left hand side click on “Custom Activities” and then click on “Create a New Activity” in the upper right. You can also customize any current lesson in this same way from the directions below.

3. Add a Free Response Question

On the slide, choose “Free Response” question type. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you name the free response component with a variable. I use “name.” Since the question is asking for the student to enter their name in the box, I deselect the “Show students their classmates’ responses.” checkbox.

Screenshot of Desmos activity builder with the free response button clicked on the left hand side selected. The named component in the free response box is named "name" and the checkbox is deselected.

4. Add a Note Widget

You want the note widget to appear after the student submits their name into the free response box.

Edit the Computation Layer

Notice on the note widget is an </> icon. This is the Computation Layer.

5. Modify the Content of the CL

In the CL you want to type
content:” “

Desmos gives you a friendly hint for this on the right hand side. Your text will need to be enclosed in quotations.

Now of course, you don’t want simple text, otherwise you would type that directly into the note widget. You want to make the note dynamic. Add ${ to start to insert a variable. I named my variable “name,” so I type name and press period. This gives me options for the widget named “name.” Choose “content.”

content:”Hi ${name.content}, please go to the next screen.”

Hide the Message

I don’t want the message to show up until the student finishes submitting their name. To accomplish this, add a new line to the Computation Layer.


This will say that the message is hidden if the variable is not submitted yet.

6. Personalizing Other Screens

Be on the look out for the CL icon. Click on </> anywhere you see it so you can add ${name.content} where you want to personalize with the students name.

One less obvious place to personalize is in the screen title. Notice on the left side next to “Teacher Tips” is a CL icon. This allows you to to do

title:” Hi ${name.content}, fun this experiment”

Desmos: A More Personal Experience

I hope this how to personalize a Desmos lesson was helpful!!

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