### Final Project diverts attention from test prep and makes students and teacher happier

This term I am shepherding two classes of mostly juniors towards New York State’s new Integrated Algebra 2/Trigonometry Regents exam. Yucch.

Like most teachers, I am feeding them the State-supplied sample questions, and teacher-improvised sample questions. I am doing topical reviews, and straight up test prep. I am even running mock exams.

And, like most teachers, running straight, ugly test prep makes me feel lousy. Dirty.

I can’t avoid the test prep. But I can temper it.

Introducing the May/June final project.

#### Small animal graphs (other small objects may be approved)

Using your graphing calculator, create a graph that resembles a small animal (fish, bird, squirrel, crocodile – use your imagination). The outline should be formed by a variety of curves: parabolas, line segments, sinusoidal graphs, square root graphs, etc. Try to make the endpoints meet.

Turn in:

A hand drawn graph of your animal. You may want to label the endpoints.

The calculator window that the animal was graphed on.

And the list of functions, y1, y2, etc, that were used to produce the animal.

What do you think? I am horrible to divert from the prep they need to do well?  Or is there useful embedded stuff that will supplement the regular prep I am doing?

(I gave them an example, the profile of a bird’s head – head and back with a chunk of a cosine, beak with two segments, eye with two semi-circles, breast with a chunk of parabola….)

And I may post interesting submissions, if they are at all interesting.

1. June 5, 2010 pm30 6:37 pm 6:37 pm

I think it’s a good idea. Let us know how it goes. I left 3 weeks for review, and yow. Too much. So bored.

• June 6, 2010 am30 6:52 am 6:52 am

I’m hoping so. I had two weeks for review, and the kids would have reviewed every day if I had asked. I’m hoping that little things involved in playing with graphs, playing with the vocabulary, will actually cement a little knowledge.

I’m hoping that I haven’t wasted time. But I know that the task is engaging, and that in the end some kids will end up knowing a little more for it. I just hate being up against a medium stakes test.

2. June 6, 2010 pm30 4:53 pm 4:53 pm

This sounds great. I do US History – each of the past few years I had my top students reading a novel of their choice that captures American society at a certain point in time and write a paper about it. Sure, it might have cost them a few points on the test, but it actually gave them a taste of college level history work.

This year I have a new principal who cares way more about Regents scores so I didn’t do it. This was a HUGE mistake. My top students are bored out of their mind doing review, and I took a chance to learn something new from them.