Two years ago I had both my Honors Algebra 2 and my Honors PreCalc classes complete a Desmos Art Project. The students used the various functions, inequalities, and equations they learned to recreate a picture. They had to use transformations and domain and range. I was excited to have students do this project because they could combine math with art & tech, plus each project would be unique. My biggest struggle was creating a rubric to grade the projects. I looked at several online, but never found anything I really liked. In desperation, because I needed SOMETHING, I created an absolutely horrible one that was based on the number of functions/equations they submitted; basically it was about compliance & behavior, not about learning. I knew the rubric was bad, but it was one of the moments where something is better than nothing. Here are the directions I gave the students. Here is the rubric. It’s awful, right? Here’s pics in case you didn’t want to look. You might wanna shield your eyes, it’s really bad.
I’ve long used Standards Based Grading and worked towards grades focusing on what students know, not behavior. But that project grade was definitely more about behavior. Ugh. This year, when I repeated the project, I was determined to have a better rubric. With the craziness of being a teacher and my perfectionism that results in procrastination, I almost ended up with the same one!
Originally, I did this project at the end of the year. The main feedback I received from students was it was the best way for them to learn domain and range. Based on that, this year I am doing the project early in Algebra 2. Therefore, my Algebra 2 students have recently started the project. I found Nat Banting‘s directions that he gave his students for a Desmos Art Project and lifted some of his language to add to my directions. You can find my updated directions here.
The biggest change is in my rubric. I moved to what is called a single-point rubric. The idea is basically you have a middle column that is the criteria for your students. The left side is blank for areas of improvement and the right side is blank for where the student excelled. This was my first attempt at this type of rubric and I’m liking it so far. I’m sure it could be better and would love feedback for how to make it better. I have 2 more Algebra 2 courses this year that haven’t started yet, so I can actually adjust this year for future classes!
I debated a lot about the Project Management row. It is still behavior oriented. Yet, when we look at the skills and dispositions our students need outside of school, project management is a skill that they need. I decided to make it a part of the grade, but a minor part. I may regret it later. From there, I focused on the key knowledge and understandings that I wanted students to gain from this project. (Note: our school has heterogeneous classes where students can opt in for Honors distinction, that’s why you see one line about Honors.) Instead of requiring a certain number of each type of function, I tried to focus on students showing their learning of each function, transformations, and domain and range.
I moved most of the behavior related part of the grade to Project Requirements. I decided that these aren’t being graded themselves. Either their project meets the basic requirements or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, I’m not grading it; I will put a zero in the grade book as a placeholder and the student needs to get the project up to meeting the basic requirements. As I explained to my students, if my boss gives me a project, it’s not acceptable for me to do it half way. I either meet the basics of the project or I don’t. If I don’t, that can impact my employment. Once the student has the requirements met, I will grade their project. The consequence for not completing an assignment, or for it being incomplete, is to complete the assignment so the student can learn.
Lastly, I require my students to self-assess on all work like this. I had a grad school prof require this, which annoyed me at first. However, I saw how helpful it was to my learning. Students will submit the link to their Desmos project on a copy of the rubric where they have self-assessed. They are to “think like a lawyer” and prove their case as to why they should be assessed on the rubric the way they are describing. One of our art teachers will be helping the students with printing and mounting their art work. It will be displayed for an Exhibition Night at our school!
If you have other ideas for a project like this or how to make my rubric better, please let me know! Have you used a single-point rubric before?