Note: This may sound like ranting (and it may be), but there are some serious questions at the end.
I gave my seniors an alternative assessment on piecewise functions. I told them that this would count for a quiz grade on piecewise functions. I handed out graph paper with the questions. I told them that I expected complete sentences. I assigned this on Tuesday (due on Friday). I told them to please see me before or after school if they had questions. On Wednesday, I asked if there were any questions on the assignment. On Thursday, I reminded them of the assignment and again asked if there were any questions.
There was a table with three different companies, listing the shipping rates charged by each for three different weight categories.The tasks:
1. Write a piecewise function for shipping x pounds with… 2. Write a piecewise function for shipping x pounds with… 3. Write a piecewise function for shipping x pounds with… 4. On the same set of axes, graph… 5 – 7 Asked questions about shipping choices.
Of the 36 (out of 46) that were turned in:
- 6 students did not have any graphs
- 7 students did not graph piecewise functions
- I stopped counting the number who did not use complete sentences
- I stopped counting the number who did not graph the functions on the same set of axes
Overall, many students did well and seemed to understand the concept, 33% earned a B or higher. Despite this, the stats were definitely skewed to the left – loooong tail. (I know, I can’t help it – I’m a geek and calculate stats for every major assignment). Overall, fourth period did considerably better than did eighth period. Fourth period also asked questions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday about the assignment. I need to figure out why there is such a discrepancy.
I am just amazed by the number of students who didn’t turn in the assignment or didn’t follow directions – and never came in for help. Are my expectations too high? These are seniors who are taking their fourth year of high school mathematics. They have taken Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. They are preparing for college next year.
Is it unrealistic that I expect them to take information, synthesize it, and deliver a product where they are asked to make interpretations? I know these are higher order thinking skills. Is this too much to expect from “average” level students? I hope not. If it isn’t, how do I not become overwhelmed when my expectations aren’t met?