Friday, May 13, 2011

Call of Duty and Calculus

Recently, I have decided to challenge the definition of the word "test" in my calculus class. 


I would hand out 10-20 MC questions, 2-5 NR questions, followed by a long answer.

This year:

I gave my students the following three questions:

1)       Illustrate the knowledge of graphing a trigonometric function by using the function, and its first and second derivative.  The function, the first derivative, and the second derivative, when combined, must use at least three different trigonometric functions.

2)      Illustrate the knowledge of displacement and distance covered on a closed interval, using a trigonometric equation for distance.  The function, the first derivative, and the second derivative, when combined, must use at least two different trigonometric functions.

3)      Show a real life application of an angle changing with respect to time.  The use of a video, appropriate measurements and illustrated work must be shown. You must solve for the exact change of the angle at a certain time.
I gave my students time to work on the "test" in class, as well to hand it in as many times as needed to achieve 100%.

Students were allowed to create a rough draft, and keep handing it in until their question reached a level of perfection.

When students handed in their work, I never once wrote a mark on it, but only supplied each student with comments. 

Here is one of the videos I received from my students:

In the video, it is depicting a character in the game shooting a ballistics knife, and then running to it and picking it up.  The student calculated the rate of change of the angle with the knife and the ground, from the perspective of the point in which the knife hits the ground.

The work which was done:

The students researched the speed of the knife.

The students used integration techniques (which I have not even taught yet), since the knife is not falling at a constant speed.

The students counted the number of steps the marine ran to pick up the knife.

The students researched the average length of a running step and height of a marine.

More videos are coming in and I plan to upload them all.

It is amazing what was accomplished when I removed my assumptions of what a “test” must be.

A comment from a student who created the video, when I informed him of how I was using it on my blog to inspire other teachers:

"Lol Thanks! I'm glad they liked it! Hopefully it can help you inspire more teachers to try testing students this way because I feel I learned way more than I would have from traditional testing!"


  1. Once again, very impressive. I like it!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I'm wondering how long they had to do these projects. How much class time was devoted to them working and how much time did they spend outside of class?

  4. Thanks! I have just been writing a piece on gamification for my OU course and trying to justify Minecraft/CoD etc This has been very helpful, especially as a lot of the feedback on gaming is very negative.

  5. It would be easier with a throwing knife and XM-25 in MW3