Earlier this year, the 7th floor commons was abuzz with groups of math students presenting their videos, puzzles, posters, problems, and more at the Algebraic Expressions Project Exhibition.
The 7th graders worked toward these presentations throughout the last unit on algebraic expressions as part of the algebraic expressions choice project, during which students could choose to create any two items from a list of ideas, or even create their own. The possibilities were endless. The one requirement? Show what you've learned about algebraic expressions. This could include how to combine like terms, how to use the distributive property or why it works, how the rules of exponents work, how factoring undoes distribution and more.
On the day of the Algebraic Expressions Project Exhibition, students set up in the commons area to present their projects to visiting middle grade students as well as 5th graders and a few 9th graders too! Fifth graders got a taste of what's in store for 7th grade and learned about future math concepts, while also making connections to some algebra they are learning about themselves. Eighth and 9th graders got a review of skills they've seen in the past and offered encouragement for younger students.
For their projects, students chose to demonstrate their learning in different ways. Some challenged themselves by incorporating higher levels of difficulty in their work, while still including a range for a wide/reachable audience. Some students shared vocabulary with examples, others created challenging exponent problems, a few created presentations on common mistakes made with exponents and one student even coded a computer program to show the distributive property.
After students presented projects, we debriefed about what was challenging about teaching these concepts to others and the differences between the age ranges of their viewers. Several students came away with a newfound appreciation for teaching and mentioned the difficulties in attempting to show someone how to do something when they are unaware of what they know or don't know. Students saw how teaching the material actually helped them gain a better understanding themselves. Some especially enjoyed teaching their concepts to their deans and teachers that came through.
During our debrief, one student mentioned that a 9th grader commented on how much these skills really come up in future math classes and are important to understand now!