equity Posts

Our Principles for Names in Our Curriculum

At Desmos, we want all students to love learning math.

All students.

We are working to create engaging, high-quality lessons to be widely used across the country, and we want all students to see themselves represented in our lessons. There are a number of ways to achieve this; incorporating names that reflect the students using our activities is one that we think is important.

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How We Reduced Bias in the Desmos Fellowship Application Process

At Desmos, we spend the majority of our day thinking about ways to support teachers. To refine our thinking and ground our decisions in the reality of classroom work, we created the Desmos Fellowship, a yearly application-based program from which we select 40 educators to join us for a weekend of conversations and mutual learning at our headquarters in San Francisco (all-expenses paid). There is no obligation beyond that, though many Fellows stay in touch.

Desmos employees are also growing in their awareness of their unconcious biases, particularly their biases towards race and sex. This post describes our efforts in reducing those biases in our Fellowship selection process so we can create a fellowship that represents the diversity of the teachers we want to support.

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Friday Fave for January 18

We learn through relationships and connections with each other. Teachers can build these relationships by valuing students’ ideas,making connections, and building on these ideas. As a result, students learn that they have ideas that are worthy of consideration, and they learn to consider the perspectives of their peers.

How do we get students to feel safe and share their ideas?

Desmos designs activities that are easy to start and difficult to finish so that all students can understand the task and contribute to the learning of the class. Tasks using this structure help ensure equity in the class since students are building mathematics that comes from their own understanding.

Anonymize is a Desmos tool that replaces students’ names with mathematicians’ names. When students work in a Desmos activity they can share their ideas and the teacher can use students’ responses to facilitate discussion while keeping each student’s identity hidden.

Animation showing how to replace student names in the teacher dashboard with mathematicians' names

On some Desmos screens, after a student shares a response, they get to see the responses of three of their classmates, and revise their own thoughts if they choose.

Animation showing a student typing a response and then seeing other students' responses

With the snapshot tool, teachers can record student work—either different strategies for the same solution or entirely different solutions—present this student work in collections to the class, and use the thinking of the students in the room to facilitate class conversations around the content.

Animation showing the process of capturing, organizing, and presenting student work snapshots

When students feel that their ideas are valued, they become more likely to share their ideas, leading to a increasing diversity of ideas shared in each lesson. Students’ ideas are this week’s Friday Fave.

Here are four activities for eliciting students’ ideas in your classroom:
Avi and Benita’s Repair Shop
Point Collector: Lines
Picture Perfect
Translations with Coordinates