My grant team and I were working on ideas for our project (Practice-Driven PD). We’ve been thinking about how to create small suggestions for teachers to enhance their algebra instruction. This week our conversation was about using worked examples with students (if you want to read a great report on algebra instruction check out this one by Star and colleagues, it’s worth a read!). A worked example is exactly what it sounds like, some problem that you work out, either correctly or incorrectly, and share with students. We really wanted to think of good prompts for students to get students thinking about the solution strategy in a particular problem and then it came to me, let’s have students rate and review the worked example!

Today many of us are familiar with the rate and review process; it’s pretty much everywhere. Amazon, AirBnB, podcasts, etc. all have such features. I thought it’d be interesting to have students see a problem, and then take time to rate the solution strategy and leave a review to explain their rating. This can work with all types of worked examples. For example, students could rate and review correct solutions, incorrect solutions, a first step in a solution etc. Here’s are four examples of worked solutions.

Here are some potential ratings and reviews:

- Top Left: 3 Stars, they started off wrong by combining non-like terms but the rest was okay.
- Top Right: 4 Stars, it’s not what I would have done, I would have multiplied the 3 and 2 first, but it works.
- Bottom Left: 2 Stars, they already messed up because they didn’t multiply the negatives right, but they did do the -2 times x okay.
- Bottom Right: 4 Stars, it works, but why would you bother switching it around? It just takes longer.
- Bottom Right: 2 Stars, it is all technically correct, but who writes their 7’s like that?!? Also, I like the x’s to end up on the left.

Now, these, like our Amazon reviews, are pretty subjective. The nice thing is you get to see what and why students are thinking about as they review the strategies. Are they considering the accuracy? The efficiency? Something else entirely? Consider this problem for example:

I can see students giving any number of ratings and reviews for this solution. They may think it’s just fine, but I would hope many of them would rate it a bit lower because it is a very inefficient application of the quadratic formula. I would hope students recognize they likely learned what the square roots of 25 are! Having students rate and review, and taking a class average to see what you all thought as a whole can lead to rich discussions.

One more thing, I know the examples I’ve used are all procedural problems, but this could extend to more involved tasks, ideas for solution strategies, diagrams, explanations, etc. So what do you say, why not give Rate and Review a try with your class?