Requiring Teaching Items

Last semester I required my students to create three lessons on important course content. By asking the students to take on the role of teacher I raised the bar for their level of understanding on those three topics. The quickest way to discover where a student is faking it is to ask them to explain their understanding of an idea.

I allowed students to select their own topic from among a list of learning objectives. Some students chose a broad approach, while others zoomed in on a specific idea with specific examples. Overall these teaching items were quite popular, and students did a good job. The tasks were fairly open ended so there was lots of room for creativity.

Texting Lesson

The first teaching item was a texting lesson where students carried out a tutoring session in the format of a phone text.

The submission was typset using LaTeX at Overleaf. I sent the students to a page with basic setup instructions and then turned them loose. There was definitely a bit of a learning curve here. The LaTeX syntax was new to nearly all of my students, but they caught on quickly. During class I showed them websites that would help them to typeset the math such as or I specifically warned them not to wait until the last minute because they were sure to encounter some technical difficulties along the way. A few students got part way through the work and decided to start over because they couldn't figure out the errors, but for the most part I had very few complaints. Moreover, several students remarked that this was their favorite assignment of the semester.

Desmos Activity

The second teaching item was to create an learning activity at