I wanted to create a low-floor/high-ceiling project to assess my 8th graders’ understanding of solving equations with variables on both sides. I wanted it to be rigorous and as cheat-proof as possible, which can be tough during distance learning. I used this halfway through Unit 4 of the 8th grade Open Up Resources curriculum.

Here is what I came up with:

1. Students create 3-4 questions about themselves that have numerical answers. Then, they create an equation that has each answer as the solution. Here is a photograph of my own example:

I’m planning to use their projects as Warm Ups during our next unit. Students will get practice solving equations and learn a a bit more about each other!

2. The second part of the project is asking kids to choose one of their equations (NOT THE BALANCE) and both show and explain how to solve it.

I felt that this project, more than others I have done in the past, gave me a really good sense of how well each kid understands solving equations. There was great variety (and fun) in their questions and equations. Some examples:

***The answer to “How many pairs of chopsticks do I use?” was an adorable: “One. I am very loyal.”

A few tips for implementing this project:

1. Prep students by doing Warm Ups like these in the weeks leading up to the project: SLIDES with Warm Ups. I only had time to do a few and know this project would have been better if I had time to do more.
2. Give kids some time (and inspiration) to come up with their questions. I didn’t do this and I got way too many questions about the number of siblings/pets/cousins they have.
3. Use an app like “PhotoMath” to help you check their work! 🙂
4. Emphasize that they cannot explain how to solve the hanger diagram. I didn’t and, as a result, didn’t learn as much about the understanding/mastery of kids who explained the hanger diagrams because they tended to be very simple.
5. My kids had 1.5 hours to do this, spread out over two days, and it seemed like the right amount of time.

Here are the materials:

Student Handout (Blank Project) (Includes a student-friendly checklist for success.)

Sample Project (I showed them my example before they started.)

Please let me know if you use this and if you make any improvements!