# Welcome Back!

Two posts and this is officially a series, right? Off we go!

# Algebra 1 Assessment, Before

Let’s spend a little more time (how about 60 seconds?) looking at the second half of that old, filthy Topic 1 assessment:

That’s it. One measly simplification question. Nothing inherently wrong about the question itself, but…

# Algebra 1 Assessment, After

With the updated Topic 1 assessment, I wanted to address to potential weaknesses to the approach I took on the original. First, I felt like one question wasn’t enough to get a sense of student mastery of distribution. For students who have mastered this, each question takes between 5 and 20 seconds, so time wasn’t an issue. With that in mind, I added two more “standard” distribution questions and scaled their difficulty:

(If the “compact form” comment doesn’t make sense *and* you wish it did—rare combination, possibly—let me know in the comments.)

Next, I wanted to add a question that required students to think outside the box, even if just a little, and at the same time would provide them with an opportunity to explain their thinking. It’s not terribly profound, but since we didn’t even hint at factoring during the lessons leading up to this assessment, I think this rather bland factoring problem, when appearing in this context, actually demands some critical thinking on the students’ part. Enough yammering, here’s the question:

# Wrap Up

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Outrage? Share any and all in the comments!

# (Bonus Material: Confession)

The “original” revamped version of the Topic 1 assessment only included 7 questions. I added #8 just to spice up the blog post. Actually, in thinking about writing the post, I had an idea for how to—potentially—make this assessment even less terrible for next year. So it’s sort of a lie, and sort of not, with an emphasis on the latter, at least in/from the future. Errrr… Time travel. Brain hurts. 12:12 am. Time for bed.

## Comments 5

Michael

Quick question on the (2x + 7) + (2x +7) + (2x + 7)

It feels kind of artificial to have the parentheses here setting off the binomials that way. I think that you did this so as to lead the students more naturally to the compact answer of 3 (2x + 7) but I wonder about the presence of parentheses in a situation where they might not normally appear.

@mrdardy I hadn’t thought about the “unnaturalness” of the parentheses before. Your guess is correct; that was how I introduced the distributive property, as sums of groups of identical expressions. I’d be happy to share the original handouts (lesson and homework) in case you want to have a closer look. I’d love to hear more feedback and consider revising the lesson if you have any ideas.

Michael

That would be awesome. I’d love to see how it unfolded

@mrdardy It’s nothing fancy, but here’s the lesson (https://copy.com/0UIRCS47mSO0DpOa) and the homework (https://copy.com/3moH0mFLIyEtKrrf).

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