In my state there are a couple of ways to meet the graduation requirement for math. First of all, students need three credits of math. From there, they can either pass the SBAC test, have a high enough PSAT score, OR they can graduate by completing passing Work Samples.
Work Samples are given twice each year, and one thing that I’ve found is that math is not what typically keeps students from passing them. It’s that they forgot to clearly communicate their plan, or forgot to state their answer as a complete sentence, or they didn’t reflect on their answer at the end. There’s so many little places to go wrong along the way.
To help them get used to the process, I decided that this year I would start doing one mastery task each unit as a partner quiz-grade, probably toward the end of the unit as an in-class review activity. I made a poster to put up on the wall for students to reference whenever they are doing these mastery task quizzes. I’m hoping that by doing this with a partner, more valuable conversation will happen to help deepen a student’s understanding of the topic. Additionally, as students start getting used to this process, the work sample will become much less daunting. Instead of having a 40-box rubric to follow along (that’s what the state provides, yikes!), they will have this process ingrained in them, which encompasses the requirements of a passing or exceeding score.
Lastly, I know I have had to give several proposals about how to solve a problem while I was working in a research lab in college, and this is typically the format that my presentations would follow. If I were to give a presentation trying to sell someone that my way was the best way, this is the sequence I would follow and I believe it would suit many professions, not just the inherently mathematical ones. I want students to get into the habit that good work needs to be backed up, and, regardless of what they are doing, good writing will need to go along with it.