CL Newsletter, March 2022 - Ask the CL Team

Hey there!

A lot has been going on here at Desmos.

  1. We finished an entire middle school curriculum and couldn’t be more proud of it.
  2. We’ve started building our Algebra 1 curriculum and plan to have it ready in time for next school year! Interested? Schedule a call with our sales team!
  3. We’re growing! We’re about to begin reviewing applications for our open CL specialist positions and are excited about the prospect of welcoming some new team members.

Because these things are keeping us busy, we’re going to keep the newsletter short and sweet this month and answer some of your questions!

Q: What do you love about Desmos? Where do you see the company going in the next few years?

We love showcasing the brilliance students bring to the math classroom. We love finding ways to give all students more opportunities to flourish while learning math and hope that in the next few years, we do it better and more often.

Q: Why doesn’t the multiple choice component have an “itemSelected” source that returns an integer instead of having to check if each option is selected?

That solution is surprisingly tricky! Because choice and checkbox components are so closely tied, we’d end up with conflicting types between itemSelected (number) and itemsSelected (number list), which would cause ambiguity for any values down the line that depend on the source.

Q: Are choices one day going to have a matchesKey source, like card sort and ordered list?

Good news: Yes! Better news: That day is now! Check out the matchesKey source in the documentation.

Q: If you use the random number generator in a note to create a problem, would it be possible to have a button that would regenerate the numbers so that the students could get a new problem of the same type?

There are multiple ways to attach a random number generator to an input, button, or action. You can connect it to an input, randomGenerator(input1.submitCount), or a button, randomGenerator(button1.pressCount), so that every time the button is pressed new values will appear. The random number generator can help create repeated practice problems like these. Keep your eyes peeled for a future newsletter where we will dig deeper into this exact question!

Q: Could you give us some more simple examples of how to use the ticker to run animations?

Actions are a great way to allow the calculator to store changing information. Tickers allow the graph to execute those actions multiple times!

For example, you might have an action A->midpoint(A,B) that moves point A halfway to point B—throw that in the ticker and now you have a “follow” animation!

Or, take some inspiration from physics and update position by adding a changing velocity.

Q: I’m having trouble understanding how to use patterns to test for a match with even a simple trinomial. It’s simple if it’s all additions, but I want to allow subtractions and not force them to change all subtractions to adding the opposite.

This is such a fun problem! In short, if you know that a student must enter a trinomial, brute force might be the best solution. However, if you’re looking to parse a string of sums and differences of varying lengths, a bit of playtime with the the sum and difference pattern reveals how easy it is to separate the last term from each string (try it!). Repeating this process over what’s left each time (and adding a few extras to make it more robust) allows you to see each term separately.

Q: Is there any way we can have a CL training academy for intermediate to advanced users? I know it was mentioned in the past.

This summer, we’re going to offer our biggest and best Computation Layer course to date. It’ll feature a supportive community, a solid core of instructors, and a bunch of interesting guest lecturers, all working to help you learn more about Computation Layer, Activity Builder, and great teaching. Watch this space for more details.

We loved answering your questions and are disappointed we didn’t have enough time to include all of them. For those of you that we weren’t able to get to, we apologize, but know that you don’t have to wait to ask. Write in to our support team, visit, or get in touch with Jay or John directly if you ever have any questions. Nothing makes us happier than seeing your awesome creations come to life!