I’ve been blogging about an Investment Project I did in my Algebra 2 classes this past semester. Part 1 gave an overview of the project and shared my docs. Part 2 gave examples of student work and their feedback. This last blog in the series shares my reflections.
- I definitely gave the students too many deliverables in too short of a time period. The research took longer than I predicted.
- I also had the students complete some textbook work during the project. I was so worried about timing of my class and “coverage.” I would not do this in the future. We would only focus on the project and nothing else.
- I like the deliverables and don’t think I’d change any, even though some students disliked the final paper. I saw too many benefits from what I read in the work.
- I would extend the project by 2 days if I kept everything else the same.
- In class, I would make sure students wrapped up their work with 5-10 minutes left so they could journal before leaving for the day.
- I believe in depth over breadth, I need to remember that and live it in my classroom.
The Project Itself:
- I like the topic – it is something my students are interested in
- I wonder how to make the project more authentic and if that matters? Mutual funds don’t grow at the same rate for 50 years. They are also based on a share price, which I didn’t address. Is it ok that it’s semi-realistic and gives students a basic intro to investments and how exponential growth works?
- I like having students create what should be in the presentations.
- I wonder if I should have students co-create the rubric like I originally planned? If I did this, I think I might need to add 3 days instead of 2 days.
- I like having students have to “prove” why they should get top scores on the rubric and have to self-assess. I would change the rubric so that the top points are next to the topics (on the left) and the lowest points are on the right.
- I wonder if there is a way to include logarithms without teaching them logarithms? For example, I could have them determine how long it would take to double their investment by doing guess and check. We do that with a zombie problem I got from Julie Reulbach.
- I mentioned in Part 2 that my students were stressed because I was gone from class one day. I actually think this worked out perfectly. Good PBL is more about students researching and discovering instead of me being the person with all of the answers. This forced them to not rely on me as much. Yes, many of them were annoyed that day; I’m ok with that. In their final papers & presentations, overwhelmingly they talked about how the project was difficult and challenging at times, but they worked through it and learned so much. They learned how to persevere as learners. To me, that made it all worth it.
- I wonder how I can grade these faster? I spent way too much time grading – it took forever and wasn’t fair to my students. I think I need tips from my ELA and Social Studies colleagues.
- I really had a hard time giving up so much class time to a topic I would normally spend one day on. However, reading the student papers changed my mind completely. I was teary eyed reading their papers, so proud of their work. It affirmed to me how important this type of learning is for my students. I don’t think math classes can completely be taught with project based learning, nor should they, but it should be a part of the course.