Can I Switch?

My Algebra 1 classes have been hard at work learning to solve equations. Even though our school is ridiculously tracked (5 levels of Algebra 1 – the other courses only have 3, still insane) I still have students in different places. I wanted to test students fairly and remembered a great technique! I made an array of problems to choose from:

The rows: equations, equations with distribution and equations with absolute value.

The columns: 1 point (green), 2 points (orange), 3 points (red)

The assignment: Independently complete enough problems to earn 10 points including at least one absolute value equation and one distributive property equation. (By including absolute value and distribution everyone had to do some multi-step problems.)

Some students were most comfortable doing all green, so they did that. Some students wanted to complete fewer problems so they went for the red (though those problems contain at least as many steps as three green questions). Several students started a problem and realized it might be too hard, so they asked “Can I switch?” You’re asking me if you can adjust to a place where you can show off what you know? The answer is absolutely yes. Students were quiet and working and couldn’t complain that the task was unreasonable since they chose their own task!

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