You can use these as "Do Now" activities, exit slips, or short take-home assessments. If you need to provide content-area writing samples for state ELL assessment programs or student portfolios, this is a painless way to collect them. Here are some examples I've used, grouped by purpose:
Explaining how to do problems or defining vocabulary:
- Explain the rules we learned this week for solving equations in your own words.
- How do you make a table of x and y values into a function? Give at least one way.
- Explain the difference between a dependent and independent variable.
- Pick one word off the Word Wall and explain what it is (or give an example).
- What questions do you still have about this unit?
- What did you learn in Algebra this week? How can you do better next week?
- Name at least one thing you need to do better in Algebra I this six weeks. Explain why.
- What happens if you fail Algebra this year? How many credits do you need to pass to 10th grade?
- What would it take to get you motivated to do your work and pass the TAKS? If you are already motivated, how do you stay that way?
- How did I do this week in math class? What did I do well? What do I need to improve upon?
- What's the good part about using graphing calculators for our work? What's the down side?
- List all the ways you use math while you're NOT at school.
- What do you think is the hardest thing to do in math? Why?
Be sure to discuss the topics as a whole group, especially to accommodate those who may be better at expressing themselves out loud. Then, you can encourage and guide those students at how to put their good ideas into writing. It might seem daunting, but every second you spend working on literacy is just as valuable as any content you teach.