Math Mondays: Attention to detail

There is no question that deeper learning is the way to go, but reality sometimes warrants a need to pay attention to the details in problems.  The reality of exams is that students are asked to evaluate and calculate.  As math concepts become more complicated, the opportunity for "little mistakes" increases.  

A favorite activity which both addresses a specific math concepts and requires students to examine the details is what I call "Be the Teacher" (a free copy is available at the end of this post).  I use this activity for concept practice or for assessment.  


Here's how we do "Be the Teacher":

  • Write the test: I write a quiz or test as I would give for a concept.  The one shown here is on equations of the circle as part of our conic sections unit.
  • Complete the test as a "student":  I write in answers, showing my work, as if I were a student.  I intentionally make errors that are common amongst students such as switching the sign.
  • Students grade the test:  I give a copy of the "student" completed test.  Students review the exam and look for errors.  Essentially, students are asking as me and grading the assessment.  
  • Review grading with partners or whole class:  students compare their grading.  We usually do this in small groups or partners, but it can be done as a whole class.  In this way the errors are found and students discover areas in which they may not fully understand a concept.
The Benefits:
  • Students need to pay attention to all details in order to correctly assess the exam.
  • Students review their own understanding of an individual math concept.
  • Students say that they find this activity extremely valuable and are engaged.
A free version of "Be the Teacher" for graphing trigonometric functions is available here.

Math Mondays 
is a bi-weekly blog post (2nd and 4th Monday of each month) sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching math.  If you have questions or think there is something I should include, you can leave me a message in the comments section below or at the store in the question and answer section.

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