Formative assessment over Identities

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SWBAT use fundamental identities to verify identities.

Big Idea

Through a quiz students will demonstrate their ability to verify identities.

Method for Assessment

45 minutes

For this unit I employ a different process for assessment.  Here is the Verifying Identities quiz.

After considering the best way to assess students on this topic for several years, I have designed a new method to assess the students' performance. My goal is to allow students to demonstrate their knowledge, even if they make a mistake early in the process.

At this point in my class, the students are still learning the identities discussed in class. I don't want verifying identities to be about memorizing a lot of rules. I want my students working to learn to use identities to show something is true, meaningfully. Along the way I want the students to understand the structure of the expression, use known identities meaningfully, and demonstrate mathematical practices. With this in mind, I have decided to allow students to use a reference sheet during the quiz. My guidelines for a reference sheet are that a student can include identities, but not examples.

Another technique I use on this quiz is to allow students to get a hint on a question. I sell hints for a point: if I give the students a hint, I deduct a point from their final score. I find that many times students are able to finish a problem once a hint is given.  The students respond positively to this policy. And, they use it thoughtfully. Students take the time to determine if they are willing to lower their grade for the hint, or, persevere to solve the problem without taking a deduction. 

To help me remember who I have helped I write the hint in red pen on their paper (see help on test example). On this student's paper, I gave assistance working with fractions. In this case, the finding a common denominator was a productive hint.

Teaching Note: Some of my students struggle when adding and subtracting fractions is necessary. This issue is a challenge for me in a PreCalculus class. But, I have many important topics to teach, so I try to make decisions that enable students to be successful in my class.