Reflection: Student Communication Critiquing and Revising Arguments (Day 1 of 2) - Section 2: Part 3: Critique


A year ago, I really wasn't satisfied with this part of the project.  I thought there was a lot more potential here than was actually realized in class, both in terms of getting students to talk about their work, and in getting students to gain practice in identifying errors and suggesting corrections.

That's why I reworked the final part of the Linear Equation Project for this year.  As I described in another reflection at the start of the project, I added a new Part 1 at the start, so you'll see that what was Part 3 last year is now Part 4.  This is the only part of the project that was overhauled in more than just name.  Part 4 now consists of two Google Forms.  On Part 4a, students work with a partner and talk about their work.  On Part 4b, they work alone to identify errors in a series of linear equations.  (Feel free to enter gibberish in each answer box so you can scroll through each form.)

I am much happier with the results of this version of the project.  First of all, on Part 4a, I was surprised by how useful it was for kids to simply quote each other's work.  I asked them to "Give an example of a sentence where your partner uses one of the inverse properties," which led to great discussions and gave students another chance to look closely at the details of one solution.  It got me thinking that maybe citation is a prerequisite to critique, and that perhaps a reason my students have struggled with critique in the past is that they need more help looking through the work and figuring out what to critique in the first place.  I was equally excited about how effective it was to have students interview each other about the work.  Having great conversations about a math concept or problem is a skill, and this activity scaffolded toward mastery of it.

When students reflected on the project before submitting it, many noted how useful this part of the project was.  Look at this student's reflection, for example: he "learned to professionally criticize my partner without being rude," and "to not be as mad or upset at my partner" when receiving feedback.  Sure we're algebra teachers - but I'll take lessons like these over rote skills any day!

Part 4b was just as engaging, and I definitely plan on using a structure like this more often in the future.  Here is a spreadsheet of student responses.  The unexpected benefit here was that I got learn a little more about student dispositions toward math.  The "teacher voice" that some students take on while giving feedback to these fictional students can tell a lot about how they feel about math, making mistakes, and receiving feedback.  It's also useful to see when a student "honestly can't see what's wrong" with a solution.  That gives me the opportunity to remediate immediately, helping students to fill specific gaps in their knowledge.

  Student Communication: Going Digital With Part 3
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Critiquing and Revising Arguments (Day 1 of 2)

Unit 3: Solving Linear Equations
Lesson 11 of 12

Objective: SWBAT critique the work of their colleagues, and make revisions to their own work.

Big Idea: Critique and revision are two of the most important skills a person can learn in any field. They're also hard work. Here is a way to get started in Algebra 1 class.

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Math, Collaboration Strategies, Algebra, Linear and Nonlinear Equations, revision, critique, peer review, writing in mathematics, writing across the curriculum, reasoning and proof
  43 minutes
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