Four Ways For Students to Show What They Know

(that aren’t a traditional test)

This week I decided to be the “fun” teacher and give a project for a summative grade instead of a test. I teach a class that doesn’t have a state test at the end of the year and is a bridge course between Geometry and Algebra 2 to help strengthen (and remember) those key Algebra 1 skills that students need for Algebra 2 but definitely forgot since Algebra 1.

Our unit that we just covered was on exponents. So our summative assessment was a project in which students had to show me what they knew about the 5 exponent rules (I counted the 5 as product rule, quotient rule, power rule, negative exponents and zero exponents). I turned to good old google for a project and found one that I adapted for my own classroom and students. 

The project had four project choices to choose from, which I loved because it allowed me to give my students choice and an opportunity to get creative in a way that fit them best. I cut out some of the requirements from the original project, added in some of my own and thus was born my Unit 2 Summative Project.

What were the projects?

Project 1: Create a display. I let students choose between a paper display or a slideshow display on Google Slides. I have tons of colored paper, construction paper, markers and crayons in my room thanks to DonorsChoose so they didn’t have to buy or have any materials if they wanted to do it on paper.

Project 2: Create a storybook that has the exponent rules in it. I thought this one would be fun for students to get super creative and write me a story and weave in exponents, but sadly, none of my students chose this option.

Project 3: Exponent Rules Comic Strip. Students needed to create a comic strip (I gave them a 10 panel minimum thinking 1 panel with the description, one panel with the example for each of the 5 rules) and use humor, irony or drama in their story. I had one student who did this and his comic strip was drawn so beautifully. (He didn’t finish this project because he had also done projects 1 & 2 already because he didn’t listen to me when I said pick ONE to do)

Project 4: A Travel Brochure for Exponentland. Tell me the “rules” of Exponentland and then come up with funny punishments (school appropriate of course) that happens when you break the law. This one was my favorite because it had them think of common errors that students made when simplifying using exponents (adding both the coefficients and exponents for the product rule for example) I did have a few students do this one and they were hilarious! See my favorite “punishment” below:

Most students picked Project 1 to do because it was the one they had to be the least creative on. I did put in the rubric that they had to put all explanations in their own words and that the examples had to be worked out and original. This is where students lost the most points on the project. I told them that they could google for help, but many of them just screenshot examples from google and put it on their slides as their worked out example. I also ended up having to put this up on my board because of the amount of CALCULUS examples and definitions I was getting turned in. 

This made me really upset because how little do you know about exponents that you are screenshotting this:

And telling me that it looks familiar to things we did in class……

How long did the project take?

I gave students 2 full 90 minute class periods to finish this project. Most students were able to complete it the first day and used the second day to go over any feedback that I gave them and fix things to make sure they got the best grade possible. A lot of them spent the second day making their presentations “prettier” and more colorful because that was one of the requirements on the rubric. I decided on this amount of time because this is usually how long I use to review and test at the end of a unit. Since we had already budgeted in one full day to review and one full day to take a test, I decided to do a project and fit it into the already allotted time!

What would I change? 

Next year, I’ll be more thorough in explaining that I need *original* and thoroughly worked out solutions to the problems, not just screenshots from google for full credit. And also put up my “don’t use derivatives” sign much earlier. 

Overall, I think this is a really fun project suitable for high school students. I think that all of these projects can be adapted to any topic or course and I may try them again later in the year and make them choose a different project than what they did this time around for the second one to really force them to get more creative. 

Want a copy of the project choices or rubric I used?

Grab those here. It’s on google docs so you can make a copy and edit however you see fit. Grab the project choices HERE and the rubric I used HERE 

Have any questions or use this project yourself and want to tell me how it went? Leave a comment or feel free to email me: I’d love to hear from you!

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