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Teaching Math Blog

Tutor Sim: Feedback While Reviewing Functions

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The NROC tutor simulations can be used for individual review or whole class game play. As the student(s) answer a series of interactive multiple choice questions, the simulation first provides hints and then, at the end, suggests topics to review. With a little introduction and wrap up, the sims can be powerful review tools. This lesson plan uses the simulation from Unit Three - Tutor Sim: Snowboarding, which reviews the fundamentals of functions and their graphs. This lesson could be used with any NROC simulation. It describes the individual and whole class use of the tutor simulations.

Learning Objective(s)
  • Review concepts before an exam.
  • Identify areas for future study.
  • Review slopes, proportionality, functions and their graphs.

Assessment Type
This assessment can be one of the last formative assessments done while preparing for a summative assessment. If done individually, it can help a student self-assess their learning needs. If done with a whole class, it can be used at the beginning of a class session to help the teacher get a sense of what the class still struggles with.
Assignment Details
Before beginning this with your class, take the time to run yourself through Unit Three's "Tutor Sim: Snowboarding." I recommend you get some answers wrong on purpose, so you can see how the simulation reacts. Upon completion, you'll also see the feedback given by topic at the end.
The two timed lesson plans below assume a 55 minute class session in a high school classroom.
If students can work individually with internet enabled computers:
  1. 10 min– Warm Up. I have a warm up that I call, "Easy, Medium, Hard." Basically, as students enter the room I invite them to choose one easy, one medium, and one hard question from their homework and to write those three problems on the board for everyone to solve. After a few minutes working on the problems we share and discuss answers. If you have a trusted student or TA, it might help you to have them go around to each computer in your classroom and make sure the web page for the tutor sim is loaded and ready to go.
  2. 15 min—Have students get out their note paper and introduce them to the NROC Tutor Sim: Snowboarding then have them work through it at their own pace on their computer. I recommend that you require them to summarize each question (draw any graph given, write down key data and what you're asked to find), and to show both their work and answers (not just the letter of the answer). They need to work through the sim honestly (not just guess and check) because at the end of the tutoring session the sim will use their wrong answers to identify areas is which they are having difficulty.
  3. 15 min-- Having completed the tutor sim, students should copy down the suggested review sections as headings on a new sheet of paper, skipping 10 lines between each heading. They can then either fill those blank lines in with three example problems worked from their textbooks or with notes from going to and reviewing the presentations and problems from the NROC lessons dealing with the topic they had trouble with. If a student has no trouble, allow them to begin on their practice test or homework right away.
  4. 10 min—Gather the class together for a discussion of what topics are still giving them the most trouble. Provide some review on topics with which many students are struggling.
  5. 5 min—If you've not already done so, pass out any practice test or take home review sheet you have for students to complete. I often also offer 5% extra credit for 10 additional worked problems chosen by the student specifically to help them fill gaps that they realized they had today.
If one internet enabled computer and projector setup is available:
  1. 10 min– Warm Up. Do the "Easy, Medium, Hard" warm up described above. If you have a trusted student or TA, it might help you to have them get the projector setup and working while you help students with the warm up.
  2. 15 min—Have students in teams of four with one volunteer student running the sim for the whole class. As each question is presented, the teams should work together to solve the problem for a set amount of time. When time is called, the teams should show their answer to the student at front. Whichever answer appears the most, that is the answer picked. If your students like to be competitive, you can keep score. Require that the person writing down the answer switches with each question and remind students that all team members need to understand and agree on the answer.
  3. 5 min – Check in with the class about the topics covered with the sim and take a moment to summarize concepts and field questions. Now is a good time to pass out a practice exam or to introduce a set of review questions.
  4. 20 min—Allow the students to work in small groups on the review questions. If you've noticed a subset of students struggling on a particular topic, you can pull that group aside to work with you or on one of the NROC lessons. If another group finishes early, you can encourage them to play a math game from the section.
  5. 5 min—Check in with students before they go. Ask them to reiterate and summarize some of the key concepts on their test. They can write on a slip of paper the topic they plan to study most and one strategy (flash cards, choose extra problems from the book, work in a study note, review online) they can use to study their chosen topic.
Instructor Notes
  • Warning: The simulation does not have a back button. If needed, one can reload the web page and begin again.
  • Students will want to test the sim--meaning give wrong answers on purpose--to see what the sim does. Such curiosity is great! I would encourage students to do so AFTER going through the sim once earnestly.
  • If a student answers all sim questions correctly and has no topic that needed more work, they should show you the completion screen. You can then initial their paper so you know that they did not just skip that part of the assignment and can give them full credit.
  • One could make an assignment asking students to design their own tutor sim. Students could present the answer options as a flow chart and even look into creating a basic simulation using linked web pages.

If students worked individually, have them turn in their notes and problems from the tutor sim along with their completed practice test.
10 Point Scale: Tutor Sim Notes
2pts – Problems from the tutor sim are numbered and organized clearly.
2pts – All problems are written out with key data and answers shown.
3pts – Follow-up topics are identified OR student showed you they'd made no errors on the tutor sim and had you sign off on their paper before leaving that day.
3pts – All follow-up notes or problems (three per topic) are written out and solved correctly OR your signature shows they were not required to do the follow questions.
Total= 10pts

10 Point Scale: Practice Test
5pts – Practice test is complete, readable, and received. Work is clear and understandable. Give an approximate percentage of 5 points based on what percentage of problems meet this criteria.
5pts – Answers are correct. Give an approximate percentage of 5 points based on what percentage of problems meet this criteria.

Total= 10pts

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