Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Race to the Tree

A colleague's student teacher and I were trying to think up a way to hook our Math 1 students into wanting to solve a system.  An idea came, and we quickly whipped up this video:

(Clearer videos can be downloaded)
It took a few days before the students were confident enough to solve the problem, but during that time they kept asking about the outcome of the race.  The math works out nicely if you use two data points when both runners are in the scene.  Students can solve graphically, but the points are close enough that a range of answers will show up - hence the need for substitution or elimination.

My setup

Sunday, April 10, 2011


As I looked at the deficits that my current calculus students have, I worked with a colleague to compile a list of skills that our pre-calc students must master by the end of the year.  These skills form the "Brainventory" which is evaluated weekly, with each skill tested with 2 to 8 questions.  If a student scores poorly, he or she simply retakes that portion on subsequent Brainventories, and I overwrite lower grades with higher grades as students strive toward mastery.

For example, here is a student who has mastered factoring and logarithm (as far as I am concerned, anyway), but needs to improve his understanding of exponents.

This process has several benefits:

Students are highly aware of their own progress, and which skills need improvement

Assessment is both formative and summative - students use the Brainventories to improve and gauge their current understanding, and grades reflect that current level of understanding at all times.

There isn't so much "brain dumping" after a topic is assessed.

Assessment is differentiated, meeting each student's current needs.

It can be adapted to reflect concept mastery