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Using Polypad in Desmos Classroom

Polypad and Desmos Classroom

Polypad is an open canvas for using virtual manipulatives to explore, create, and discover mathematics and can be used inside a Desmos Classroom activity. While virtual manipulatives have value for all ages of students, Polypad can be especially helpful for K-8 teachers who want to get started with Desmos Classroom.

Adding a Polypad to a Desmos Classroom Activity

Using Polypad in a Desmos Classroom activity is so easy. Start by inserting a Polypad component on the screen. From there, you can either create the Polypad from scratch or insert a Polypad from Perhaps you have one in your saved account or you found one from the Examples folder or from the Puzzles, Lessons, and Activities page. Either way, just copy the URL and paste it onto the Polypad inside Desmos Classroom. Learn more in this video.

Customizing a Polypad

Within Desmos Classroom, click on the gear in the left panel to access the settings for that Polypad and use the toggle to enter Authoring Mode. Here, you can decide what tiles will appear for students, what actions will be enabled for those tiles, and what is available in the toolbars. Click “Preview” in the upper right to view what students will see. Learn more about Authoring Mode:

Authoring Mode

Learn More

Getting Started with Desmos Classroom

Getting Started with Polypad

Tutorials and PD

Polypad Pointers: A collection of short videos to learn about using Polypad

Polypad Pointers

What’s New on Polypad - Monthly videos highlighting the recent Polypad updates

What's New on Polypad

What’s Next?

The Desmos Classroom and Polypad teams continue to work on a deeper integration of these tools. The features below are not currently possible, but the teams understand how helpful they will be to teachers and students:

  • Continued integration with Computation Layer and Polypad
  • Viewing students’ Polypad work in overlay mode. Currently, students’ Polypad work can only be viewed in individual response mode.

Share Your Ideas!

We always love to see how teachers are using Polypad with students. Please share across any of our social media channels! For questions and suggestions, email us at

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Amplify Desmos Math

Polypad and Desmos Classroom are part of the Amplify portfolio of math resources. Learn more about tapping into students’ curiosity and brilliance.

Amplify Desmos Math

Carrying Polypad Work Forward

Student work on a Polypad can now be carried forward to a Polypad on a different screen using Computations Layer. To do so:

  1. Name the initial Polypad in CL. For example, “p1”
  2. In the receiving Polypad, set the initial state as follows: initialState: p1.polypadState

What from the Polypad is carried forward? What is NOT carried forward?

All tiles and strokes are carried forward from the initial Polypad to the receiving Polypad. Any properties or settings changed on specific tiles either by the author in setting up the initial Polypad or by the student while interacting with the initial Polypad (like changing the label options on a specific fraction bar) are carried forward to the receiving Polypad.

Any Polypad customization options set by the author in the settings menu (the gear tab of the sidebar) of the initial Polypad are NOT carried forward in the receiving Polypad. If the author wants to have the same settings on the receiving Polypad as the initial Polypad, they’ll have to change the settings on both Polypads. This applies to all options in the settings menu, including those customization options in the “Select Tiles and Tools” mode. Examples include:

  • Global settings like Audio tools and other toggles in the settings menu
  • Toolbar options (like the color picker or text editor)
  • Pinching, panning and zooming
  • Tile specific actions (like cutting Polygons)
  • Categories of tiles available in the sidebar.

None of these carry forward from the initial Polypad to the receiving Polypad. This allows for different options on each, but the author can make it the same if that is the intended goal. Watch the video above to learn more about customizing settings within Polypad.

Viewport options

If the initial fullscreen Polypad is a Fixed Size or Notebook canvas, authors should set the receiving Polypad to the same canvas setting and adjust the width and height accordingly.

Using the Initial State

Any changes made on the Polypad initial state will update on the receiving Polypad as long as users don’t make any changes to the receiving Polypad. Once a user interacts with the receiving Polypad (moves tiles, adds tiles, deletes tiles, adds a pen stroke, etc), the receiving Polypad will no longer update and reflect any changes made on the initial Polypad.