I wanted a quick and fun way to assess students’ abilities to solve equations during the first week of school, so I made this “Solving Equations – Add It Up” powerpoint. Each group of four students will have one large whiteboard on their desks (purchased from Home Depot – panel board that is cut up). Each student will solve the problem in his/her quadrant, then the students will add all their solutions together to get one final number which they will write in the middle of the board. I will only look at that final number and tell a group whether they are right or wrong. If a group is wrong, they will have to look at each other’s work and figure out where the error has been made. During the activity I will walk around and monitor student’s progress, keeping notes on my clipboard for future reference.

If a group does not have 4 students, I will ask the student who finished his/her problem first, to also solve the 4th problem. If you do not have large whiteboards, you can still have students do this activity. Students can solve their problem on an individual mini white board or sheet of paper, and then combine their answers onto one sheet in the middle of the table.

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That’s a great idea! And it’s really applicable to all kinds of tasks. Thanks for sharing!

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Genius. It is basically the checksum digit of a barcode but for checking students. Saves tons of time AND makes groups have to work together to catch errors. You could easily extend this for quadratics by having students sum all the roots, or for equations by summing all of the slopes, etc.

Thanks, Andy! You can easily adapt this for many topics. Last year I made one for adding, subtracting, and multiplying polynomials that worked really well too!

When you say large whiteboards, how large are we talking about? Getting ready for beginning of school and I want to help my department out with implementing these kinds of group work strategies.

Terrific activity, by the way – this reminds me of some math competitions I have been to where there are relay races set up so one person’s answer becomes the second person’s input. Chaos theory at work here as one minor mistake early in the chain blows up the group’s answer at the end.

Hey Mr. Dardy, so, we’re talking pretty large whiteboards. I bought two panel boards from Home Depot that were 4 ft by 8 ft and had an employee cut each board into 3 pieces (4 ft by about 2.66 ft). I like this size because when I push four desks together, this piece pretty much covers the desks so the entire surface is writeable. There are a few teachers at my school who purchased the same board but had it cut into four or six pieces, so I think it all depends what you’re looking for!

I also love those types of relay races and I think the kids really do too. Good luck!

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