Reflection: Roller Coaster Polynomials - Section 3: Group Assessment: Roller Coaster Polynomials Project


As my students are adapting to the Common Core and learning to become better mathematicians, I am finding that my lessons are taking much more time than I originally planned. I battle with myself over which lessons to keep and which to dump. I want to do it all, but there just isn’t enough time! I wish I could keep my students all day long and really explore the mathematics in a great depth. I want students to have a deep understanding of the topics we explore, but yet I also want them to be exposed to a variety of topics and want to dedicate plenty of time to each topic. I also feel district pressure to ‘cover’ every topic so that my students can perform on district and state assessments. Time is my enemy. To win this battle with time, I must create more. So for this polynomials project, I decided to just that. This project became an optional out of class extra credit project.

Students had two weeks to do it and could create their own teams of three. I didn’t love the idea of students creating their own teams, because who knows who really ended up doing the work? But it also didn’t seem fair to assign teams that may not be able to actually meet or where some students were motivated and others weren’t. I also didn’t like the idea that it was optional. Most students didn’t even try it. But I also didn’t feel right requiring students to do this assignment. Many are struggling to just complete their nightly homework.

Then in reality there ended up being an even bigger concern: cheating. I believe some of my students found the answer key online. Their answers were just far too perfect and identical to the key. I will not assign this out of class again. I caution you against making the same mistake. This project can easily be found with a quick internet search and there are many answer keys floating around. Next year, I will either have students do it in class, or not at all.

 A few of my students’ authentic responses are below:

Student Work Example 1.pdf

Student Work Example 2.pdf

Student Work Example 3.pdf

Student Work Example 4.pdf


  Extra Credit Project
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Roller Coaster Polynomials

Unit 2: Polynomial Functions and Equations
Lesson 13 of 15

Objective: SWBAT demonstrate their knowledge of polynomials functions in a real world context.

Big Idea: Working in teams, students use their polynomial knowledge to analyze and describe various roller coasters.

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roller coaster pic
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