Using Desmos in your Class Blog/Website

My BlogI love Desmos, so when I discovered how to use HTML code to add a desmos practice graph on my blog, I was ecstatic. If you are not familiar with Desmos and you are a math teacher, you need to visit the site!

I use my class blog for many things:

  1. Lesson Plans
  2. Syllabus
  3. Math Links
  4. Class Announcements
  5. Videos
  6. Quizzes and Tests
  7. Classwork
  8. Homework
  9. Anything else I can think of!

I love having a blog because it saves me paper, but the best part is when I have a sub. I put the plans on the blog and the kids know to go to it and find their work! It’s so nice not to rely on somebody to give the students the work. No excuses!

Recently, I was trying to figure out how to do something else with Desmos and discovered how to put a graph right on my blog. You can view it here if you’d like.

So if you are ready, let’s add a graph to your site!

As a teacher, if you haven’t created a Desmos account, that would be the first thing you should do. Next, create a graph that you would like to use or for the purposes of practice, use a blank graph. Go to the share button in the top right corner of the Desmos page.

Desmos 1

Click the share button. Copy the link (don’t click embed). Now you need to add some code to the beginning and the end of it, so it will work.

Type this: blog 4In place of the red sentence above, put the link that you copied from Desmos. You can play around with the dimensions of the height and width to fit you blog.


Now you need to know where to put this code. In the blog or website you use, find where you normally go to create a new post. There is usually a place to put HTML code. Here are two examples:

This one is from Blogspot:     blog 3

This one is from      blog 2

Paste your code and save your changes. Go look at the post to see if it worked!

I hope you are as excited about this as I am. I love learning new things and I love finding things that will help my students. Please let me know how it worked for you! Best of luck!



Angle Demonstration


Patty paper has so many uses. One of the very first lessons in Geometry is a reminder of the different types of angles along with the definition of an angle. In the top left corner of the picture above, you can see that two rays are drawn on two pieces of patty paper. One ray is called CA and the other ray is called CB. The students can clearly see the definition of angle when you do this. When  you put the two rays together at point C, you’ve created an angle. From here, I get the students to make the different types of angles: right, obtuse, acute and straight. Finally, I get them to tape the acute one in their interactive journal. This is great for all ages and it gets the point across!

This lesson is a part of my Point, Line, Plane lesson that you can find in my store. All my Geometry lessons are in my Geometry Curriculum. You can see both resources below. Check them out!!!

Geometry Curriculum
Intro to Geometry

Angel and Cowboy – Working with Inequalities

I came across the Angel and the Cowboy years ago. I did not create this, but I did add the bow tie. I love using this with inequalities. I have found it most useful when working with piecewise functions. The idea is that the hats and the face deal with graphing, the body is used for writing domain and range in interval notation form and the legs help with writing inequalities. All the pieces are related. Notice how all the Angel symbols are for NOT EQUAL and the Cowboy symbols are when things are EQUAL.

I found this slide from when I taught piecewise functions last year:

Let’s break this idea down a little further. If you asked your students to give the domain of only the left arrow, then they would see an open circle which is the angels face, so I call this an angel problem. The student would notice that the domain goes from negative infinity to -1. If you want the students to write this in inequality form, they would use the angel symbol and say: x < -1 or I allow my students to write: -∞ < x < -1. If you asked them to write the domain in interval notation form, they would write (-∞,-1). All symbols came from the angel!

Now let’s look at the right arrow. This is a cowboy problem (well not completely). The enclosed dot indicates that the problem is a cowboy problem, but since there is an arrow on the opposite end which represents going to infinity, this problem is also an angel problem. The domain in inequality form would be > -1 or -1 < x < ∞.  In interval notation you would write [-1, ∞). The second inequality answer and the interval notation answer contain both cowboy and angel parts. (Since you can never reach infinity, you can never equal infinity. That’s why I added the infinity symbol to the angel.)

Anytime graphing and writing inequalities is a part of a lesson the angel and cowboy can be useful. You may not need all the parts of the angel and cowboy. Interval notation is not taught until Algebra II in Texas, so when I’m using this in Algebra I, I usually just tell the kids that they will learn about the rest of the symbols later.

The solid and the dotted lines above the faces come in handy when graphing inequalities. If we are graphing y > 2x – 3, then the students will realize that the symbol came from the angel, so the line will need to be dotted. The one thing that the angel and cowboy do not help with is shading above or below the line. You could easily add the words above and below to the symbols on the legs if you wanted.

I’d love to hear from other teachers that have used this before. Let me know how you use it or how you have tweaked it. If you’ve never seen this before, I hope you will find this handy and you will be able to use it in your own classroom!

I’ve made a free poster of the angel and cowboy that is in my TpT store. If you are interested, please use this link and download this resource.     Cowboy and Angel Poster

Algebra II – Starting The Year

In Algebra II, it’s hard to decide how to start the year. I want to review, but I don’t want to keep us from moving forward. I need to know how much the students remember from Algebra I. My students were in Geometry last year. How much Algebra was incorporated into their Geometry class? I feel like my best bet is to begin by solving equations and inequalities. The activity that I will use, starts easy and gets progressively harder. The students will not be able to use a calculator because I need to know who REALLY knows how to solve equations without tricks or help. This activity is sold in my TpT Store:

 Solving Equations and Inequalities

Solving Equations and Inequalities

I really like this activity because there are options. I can make it fun by using the answer banks. The answer banks have the answers with an activity. A few of the activities have the students draw a picture. Another activity has the students fill in a movie title. There are progress checks along the way as well. I think that I will use the easiest page as a bellringer on the first day of class. I’ll have them work through as much as they can on the rest and send it home to be finished. I can use the progress checks as quizzes or as pages for their interactive notebooks. This resource will give me an idea of where the students are and will be a nice segway into solving absolute value equations which is what I plan on doing next.

Find What You Aren’t Looking For First!

I like to challenge my students. One way that I like to challenge them is through tricky diagrams and pictures. I don’t want every problem to be straight forward. I always tell my math students that sometimes you must find something you aren’t looking for in order to find what you ARE looking for. Since I teach 9th graders, I’m trying to get them out of the mode of thinking that all problems should be easy to figure out. I love watching them really think, but it tends to be frustrating when you have those students that want to ask you about every single problem or want you to stand at their desk and watch them so they can ask you questions. I’ve learned to give them a good 5 to 10 minutes of independent thinking time, then I’ll let them compare what they have so far with a partner. I’ll watch and listen to the conversations to gauge what to do next. If they are still struggling, I may give them a hint. Sometimes I’ll play the game where the only answers that I can give are yes or no. This will help them learn to ask good questions. Below are some examples of the types of problems that I’m talking about. If students get used to doing these types of problems, they will be excellent problem solvers and even though a problem may stump them, they will have the experience to know that if they stay after it, they can eventually figure it out.

This is from my Circles: Special Angles and Segments Resource

This problem is from my Law of Sines and Cosines Resource. 

I call this one, the Poodle Problem. It is in my Trig Unit.

This problem is from my Special Right Triangle Unit. 

The great thing about these problems is I’ve made them easy to grade. You know real quick if they’ve worked the problem correctly or not.

After a year of these types of problems, I’m hoping to see improvement in my student’s college entrance scores and EOC scores. I know that this will also help with their growth mindsets. I feel like this is definitely a win/win!

Law of Sines and Cosines

Real-life Examples of Solids of Revolution and Cross-Sections

I get so much out of creating lessons. When you deeply understand a concept, you can talk about real-life situations and the math behind it. I’ve never thought about it until now, but a revolving door is a perfect example of a solid of revolution. Taking a rectangle and revolving it around a pole, creates a cylinder. What a beautiful example!


The last time I was at an AP Calculus seminar, I learned that another awesome example of a solid of revolution is a honeycomb decoration used at parties. These are perfect examples because you can see the 2-D version before it is rotated. This is exactly what we want students to know. What does the 2-D version become with you rotate it? If they can visualize that, then they get it!


Another concept that goes hand-in-hand with 3-D figures is the idea of cross-sections. Everytime we slice an orange, apple, or a loaf of bread, we have created a cross-section. In Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus, we discuss cross-sections of cones. Depending on how you slice the cone, you can get a circle, an ellipse, a parabola or a hyperbola. 






A great hands-on activity for cross sections is to have the students create a shape out of play-doh. Take a piece of dental floss and slice the object horizontally, vertically or even at an angle. Be sure and have them make predictions before they perform the experiment! Students with phones can take a before and after picture so that other students can see. 






I enjoyed creating my Intro to 3-D Figures resource. It’s amazing how after teaching math for many years, that I can still pick up valuable insights and ideas. Math is infinite. There is no end to what you can learn! 

 Intro to 3-D Figures

Intro to 3-D Figures

5 Ways to Gain Control of Your Classroom!

At certain times of the year, you may feel like you’ve lost control of your classes. Toward the end of the year, you’ve become lax and the kids are getting too comfortable. Students are talking while you’re teaching. You have a hard time getting their attention. Phones are visible along with earbuds inserted. You are miserable and little worried about how you are going to make it through the rest of the year. I have 5 easy things to try to get you and your students back on track. You will realize how easy these things are to do and wonder why you haven’t done them all along. Sometimes even teachers lose focus and go into survival mode. Survival mode is a hard place to stay. Try these 5 things and I promise you will be happy and you can finish the school year with a confident attitude.

I. A seating chart is a must!

It doesn’t matter what grade you teach. Seniors? Juniors? 7th Grade? Doesn’t Matter! You need a seating chart if you’ve lost control. Look at the seating arrangement of each class. Have they started sitting where they want to sit? Are they too comfortable with the students around them? Do you have them in groups? Have you ever had them in a seating chart?

My suggestion is to put your classes in rows for a while and decide where you want each student to sit. Who needs to be in the front? Who can sit in back? Who does not need to be by each other? Strategize! The kids will moan and groan, but ignore it because you’re going to see good results from this seating chart. You’ll probably have a few kids come up to you and say that they can’t see from their new seat or they can’t sit by a certain person. You will hear some excuses, no doubt. For right now, just tell them to sit where you put them. (You are in charge!) If you see a problem with where some kids are sitting, YOU DECIDE when to move them!

II. Getting Their Attention!

Now that they are in their new seats, it’s time for a discussion. You are going to explain that they will not have their phones out, unless they have permission. You do not want to see the phones or see the earbuds or you will take them up and either turn them into the office or not give them back until the end of class. Now, if you say this, you have to follow through. The first person that messes up needs to be made an example. This will get the attention of everyone. Don’t budge on this!

The other thing you are going to tell them is that since you’ve had problems getting their attention lately, you will put your hand up when you need their attention. When they see your hand up, they put their hands up too until everyone has their hand up and mouth’s shut! (Seniors can do this! Adults can do this! Kids can do this!) Tell them that you will not talk over them and until they are quiet, you will stand and wait. If they choose not to listen, then you will hold the class after the bell. (Yes you can do this. You don’t have to hold them long. 30 seconds to a minute will get your point across.)

III. Walk the Class!

From this day forward, you need to walk the class. Don’t stand in front of the room and teach. Be everywhere. Talk to the class, then walk around and see if they are doing what you asked them to do. You can teach from any part of your classroom. Let students go up to the board. You don’t have to always do it. If you’ve never walked your class, you will be amazed at how this will change your classroom. Try to talk to each student at some point during the class period. Don’t hover over any student for long though. Keep moving and act like you are really checking out what they are doing. If you really want to put on a good show, get a clipboard and act like you are writing stuff down that you see. You can even walk around and put stars, stickers or check marks on things that you see that are good! You will have fun and the kids will too. All kids like stickers, smiley faces and check marks!

IV. Calling Cards!

Another awesome trick to keep your students on their toes is to randomly call on people to answer questions. There are random selectors on the internet, but I like to use index cards. It’s very easy to do. Put each student’s name on an index card. Shuffle the cards and randomly select students to answer questions. When I’m having kids work an example problem, I’ll warn them and say, “I’m going to randomly call on someone in a minute.” If you call on a kid that sits and looks at you because they don’t know the answer, still make them give you something. You can give hints, or help them out, but don’t let them get away without answering the question. All the students are watching to see how you handle the kid that says, “I don’t know.” This will get your students engaged, because they don’t want to be the kid that doesn’t have an answer. If students give me wrong answers, I still praise them. I don’t want anyone to be afraid to answer a question because they are afraid of being wrong!

V. When it’s Time to Go!

Be in charge…even when the bell rings. Did you know that the bell doesn’t release the kids? YOU DO! I tell the kids that they are not allowed to leave the room, until they hear me say, “Have a nice day!” I keep them in their seats until I inspect the room. Is there trash on the floor? Did they put up any materials they used? One trick, I’ve learned to do and yes it works with any age, five minutes before the bell I say, “I’m inspecting the room and the cleanest, quietest, straightest row will get to leave first.” This works great on that rowdy class that always leaves your room in a mess. I usually walk around and point out trash on the floor and other things that need to be corrected. When the bell rings, I’ll pick one row to go. I don’t release another row until the first one is gone. When I’m down to 2 or 3 rows left, I usually say, “Ok, everyone can go now.” If you do this a few times, they respond well. If there’s one kid talking and keeping their row from leaving, I’ll say that everyone can leave, but “Johnny.” I’ll let everyone go and Johnny stays behind. It’s entertaining to say the least, but I promise it makes a difference.

Don’t be miserable, take charge. It’s never too late. Trust me, I’ve made every mistake possible. I’ve learned that being FIRM is the key. I left many days, almost crying because my day has gone terrible, but it was my fault. Take control. Kids will respond as long as they see you are firm and fair. I hope the rest of your year goes well. If you would like a complete discipline plan for secondary students, see the link below.