Thursday, June 7, 2012

A different type of final exam...

My Math Analysis students took their "real" final exam before our CST tests in early May.  But, today was the official "senior finals" day and I told them they were going to have a small "part 2" of their final to finish the year.  Since my class is half juniors and half seniors, I told them all they would be finishing their final today rather than having the juniors take it on the "normal" finals day next week.

I prepped them by telling them the following:

Your final will include:
  • 1 identity
  • 1 proof
  • 1 graph
  • some limits
  • 1 area problem
Little did they know that this was all an analogy... They thought it would be a trig identity, a trig proof, a trig graph, actual calculus limits, and a Riemann Sum area problem.  They came prepared with Portfolios, Calculators, and studying done...

But here's what it really was :)  [document here]

After I handed out the first question (each question #1-3 was handed out separately and the students had 5 minutes timed to finish them), there was a little snickering, a little looking at me laughing, a little "what?!?!" in a good way... but they were writing FURIOUSLY and still took it seriously!

One Identity
    1. How has your identity changed over the course of this year?  What have you learned about yourself – as a person, as a student?  This does not have to be just focused on my class, but on your year as a whole.
One Proof
    1. Prove to me that you’ve learned something this year.  It better be good. J

One Graph- Model graphically your walk to the library to return your textbook.  A piecewise graph would be awesome.

Some limits- Our seniors have reached their limits.  Where are they headed next?

Area problem
You’ve been in this area (D-309) for the last 10 months.  The problem is, you’re moving on.  I hope you leave here feeling successful and confident about your time spent in Math Analysis.  I know that I worked you hard, and I know that my expectations for you were sometimes not what you would have liked because I wouldn’t let you settle… but I appreciate your hard work and your effort – and perseverance... (letter continued on document)  

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect... but I was blown away by some of their answers to the "identity" and "proof" questions.  Here are my favorites:

How has your identity changed?
  •  I've become more independent and have relied less on others. I learned that I can do anything I set my mind to.  I've learned to be more dedicated in everything I do and I enjoy my life much more because I know I will not be a child forever.
  • I have become more efficient, organized, and a better learner.  I learned that once I have set my mind to it I will try hard to do the best of my ability to finish and get something done.  I've also learned that if I don't approve of something I cannot always change it to get my way, but I have learned to adjust to it, which prepares me for life.
  • I used to be a more annoying student when I first came into your class.  I was very disrespectful, and honestly didn't care about my teachers or other students.  But thanks to Mrs. Kirch, I learned to listen to my teacher, listen to my fellow peers, and to be open to trying something new, like the flipped classroom (remember when I used to complain against it?)
  • Honestly, I feel like I have seen myself grow more responsible this year.  The main change occurs in my organization.  I feel like I am now able to fully understand my schedule.  Specifically, your flipped classroom has shown me that effort is a huge part of how much you learn.  If you put your full attention on an activity, it is easier and quicker to comprehend.  When you slack off, you waste time replaying and relearning because it hasn't stuck in your brain yet.  I feel a lot more confident when I talk to teachers this year as well, because they are so supportive.  I had many teachers who never got mad at me, but encouraged me instead.
  • I have learned to become a more responsible student through the trust I have been given through all my teachers.  In math especially, I have learned the value of integrity and how it defines a person.  I am who I am when no one is watching.  I have also begun to see what I am capable of doing when I just push myself and focus on my goals.  I have also learned that there is no reason to not get anything done. 
  • I have realized how fast life passes by.  This class has re-lit the fire I have for math and I thank you for that Mrs. Kirch.  I feel like a stronger and more independent young adult now and have so many new goals in life now.  Mrs. Kirch you have made me a better student by challenging me a lot.  Thanks for everything. I love you!
  • ...I know how to not be afraid of new things because there are people around us to help us.  I have changed my point of view of myself from confused person to someone who will keep trying until I get it right.
  • I discovered so much about myself throughout the course of the year.  I know that I shouldn't focus on just your class, but honestly, the revelations that I made that I can point out clearly are all from Mrs. Kirch's Math Analysis class.  I found out that I care about my learning enough to take the reigns of my own lessons. I make time for my education, staying after school if I have to, in order to ensure that I learned the material.  I have never been as grateful for a teacher before you.
  • ...I learned that to be successful, we had to strive to earn it.  Over the course of this year, I, as a student and a person, became more responsible and flexible...
  • My identity has changed in a mental way.  I have become much more smart and sophisticated as well as responsible.  I have learned that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to... I have learned from [my teachers and friends] many things that I didn't know that I didn't know.
  • I have become a bit more self aware of things.  I learned that I am capable of doing much more than I thought I was.  I learned that if I try 100% every day then I feel a lot better...
  • I developed more confidence in myself this year especially since I felt comfortable talking to Mrs. Kirch.  I learned to communicate with other teachers and peers. I also learned that not everyone is perfect; we all make mistakes, but the important thing to remember and do is to learn from those mistakes.  I learned to always keep my head up no matter what gets thrown my way because A LOT will try to break me down throughout my life.  I just have to fight through it and give it my best effort.  I will also miss this class.
  • This year I have changed my identity in a few ways by being a lot more helpful to people and just becoming a more independent person, unlike last year.  I have learned that being helpful is more helpful to myself than others because I gain a nice warm feeling while all they gain is whatever I helped them with. 
  • I've learned that I can do anything as long as I put effort into it.  Lying and cheating doesn't benefit you, it just hurts you.  Being honest is the best thing you can do.  Having integrity is one of the best qualities a person can have.  I have grown into a responsible and mature adult.
  • ...The internet has been a wonderful thing.  I have been able to work more with technology this year.  I learned that when I work with technology, I have become a harder worker when all the resources are available to me.
  • As a person I've learned that I can be more responsible than before.  The responsibility needed to stay on task with the flipped classroom and other things has been incorporated into my other classes and activities.  I've also learned how to take learning into my own hands and not have to always rely on a teacher.
  • ...I've learned that perseverance is one of the most important values you can have because no matter what issues or problems arise all you can do is persevere through it.  I've learned that things aren't going to be handed to you in this world and that you have to earn them through hard work and dedication.
 Prove to me that you've learned something this year:
  • I have learned many things throughout the entire year relating to math but I have also learned that integrity is key to who we are as people.  Sure I have learned that there are an infinite amount of limits on a graph but a limit does not exist on a jump discontinuity, infinite, and oscillating but I have also learned to be a responsible, hardworking student who can learn by herself.  
  • This year I learned how to manage my time wisely and that it is my job and responsibility to care for my own grades and everything I do is for the good of my future...
  • At first I thought you were very mean and I wouldn't enjoy your class.  I came to find out I was very wrong.  I didn't look forward to your class because you are strict but I learned that you are strict because you care and you soon became the best teacher I have ever had in my high school life.  I also learned that you are very helpful and you spend more time than needed on making sure your students get the best education they can. Therefore you are my favorite teacher and if I ever need help I feel I can come to you.
  • ...Most importantly this class has taught me skills that I know are important for my future.  I've never had more fun and struggles in my class before.  I learned that sometimes you have to get your hands dirty and do things yourself.  You can't be lazy... I learned to be more responsible. 
  • I've learned how to become an honest student. I know I'm a late bloomer and things have been rough in the past 6 months but I now know how to be honest.  Honestly, the bad habits where I had written on your desk and copying other people's work are officially over.  Thank you for changing me into an honest student Mrs. Kirch!  I've also managed to produce time management skills because of Flipped Classroom!
  • ...A cheesebucket is an affectionate insult... (inside joke)
  • ...But, the most important thing I learned in this class is: not to give up, because there are people who care (like you)
  • I have learned a lot this year in this math class because I still remember my parent graph song from Unit B.  The flipped classroom has made an impact in the way I view the learning process and that it takes time.  I now feel that "aww" type feeling and I crave it and it comes from success.  And in this class is where that craving began...
  • This year besides all my struggles in your class I have learned to be persistent and hard working.  From having you as my Algebra 1 class freshmen year to having you my senior year is a blessing because I can honestly say that I have learned math...making me reflect on my behavior as a student...I'm glad that I was able to have a teacher that takes teaching to a whole new level because she wants her students to succeed.


  1. I love , love, love this! This year was huge for them :-)

  2. LOVE this! This was so creative, I'm going to try to find a way to do something similar in my history class. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Thanks everyone! I'm really glad I decided to do this... It turned out really well and was beneficial for them and for me. Can't wait for next year!


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