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Tell Me Something True

I've always wanted to give a test to students that was just a blank piece of paper and they would get to tell me everything they know about a given unit of the course. I liked the idea of them getting to show me what they did understand, rather than what they didn't. Logistically, I knew this probably wasn't going to work as an actual assessment. But I started thinking more about how we could structure a task where students would have just enough of a prompt to get their gears turning, but then full control and creativity over what and how they demonstrate what they've learned. This is how the idea for "Tell Me Something True" came about. In the slide deck below, you'll find some very bare-bone prompts that students can interact with to tell us what they know!


How to Play

The class is split into two teams and each team should gather at one end of the room. A prompt will be shown with some information about a function, either in graphical, analytical, or tabular form. Students are then given two minutes of individual prep time to gather ideas. Teams then go back and forth saying “something true” (and AP Precalculus related!) about the given prompt. This could be a description of the function, an equivalent form of the function, any true statement that incorporates content from AP Precalculus.

For example, for the slide above, a student might say “g can be modeled by a quadratic function because there are constant second differences of -3 in the outputs over input intervals of size 2” or “g is concave down over its entire domain."

If a team cannot come up with “something true” in the given time frame (30 seconds max), the other team receives a point. You can then choose to move on to the next prompt or continue brainstorming ideas. There are MANY true things to say about each prompt.  


It is important that all players on a team take turns saying “something true”. There can not be one spokesperson for the group, or a few students doing all the thinking for the entire group. Students should feel free to jot down ideas while other players are talking and also brainstorm with teammates. In our class, we award bonuses for creative answers or ones that are pull in a lot of rich Precalculus content. For example, looking at the piecewise graph of f, one student said "This function would be invertible if the domain was restricted to [-4, 2]." Color me impressed.

You can keep track of which team won each slide and announce an overall winner, but we've noticed that students find the opportunity to one-up each other with clever statements as motivation enough. Ready to play?

Benefits of "Tell Me Something True"

  • The entire activity is based on what students know, not what they don't

  • Students often incorporate knowledge from multiple units when stating something true

  • The generative, open-ended structure fuels students' creativity and activates deeper thinking

  • Students can interact with the prompts at whatever level they're at, making it a great low-floor task and excellent for formative assessment

  • Students always come up with statements that I did not think of myself – I never cease to be amazed at some of the brilliant things students are able to share!

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