One of the new ideas I encountered through modeling is the practical summative assessment. It seems like a great idea to invigorate the learning process, make testing meaningful, and still maintain high expectations.

My grade 12 math class is doing a bit of review of geometry, and the Pythagorean theorem in particular, so I took them outside for an activity. I marked off a 14 m segment at the edge of a pavement. The students worked in groups to create a straight line that forms an angle of exactly 90 degrees from the edge of the pavement.

The solution, of course, required the construction of a large right-angled triangle. The students used two 30 m measuring tapes to build the other two sides of the triangle. Activities like this require multiple hands — at least three students per group — which usually leads to one student taking over. Thus, I had the groups do this activity in a couple iterations, requiring rotation of responsibilities.

I liked that I was able to tie in the etymology of *geometry* by giving some historical context: we were land surveyors on the Nile floodplains, calculating the Pharaoh’s taxes. I’ll try more assessments like this in the future.