ICTM 2010: How do you know if they know?


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Presentation given at the 2010 Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in West Des Moines, Iowa.

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  • Put on your thinking caps today…
  • These slides, links to some commentary on standards-based grading, and suggested reading are all available on the website.  Feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more or have additional questions that were not answered today.
  • Typical “quiz.” Did this student do well? How do you know? When you hand back an assessment, what do students look for first? Assuming only wrong answers were checked, what incentive does this student have to improve?
  • Fingers in the air. Tell me where you’re at…
  • Lots of definitions out there. Here’s one. Notice the emphasis on “learning.”
  • Formative assessment is not just quizzes or reading probes. It can be formal or informal. It is not a one-way process. It should involve both students and teachers. Grading does not equal formative assessment. Formative assessment is diagnostic, points out strengths and weaknesses. Formative assessment is not something you “do.” It’s an ongoing process that should be embedded in your instruction. 
  • Through all of the books and articles I’ve read, these components are the ones most often cited. 1) Students must know where they’re going. 2) Students must receive dollops of feedback on how they’re progressing towards the desired target. 3) Self-assessment is the ideal. Once assessment is no longer something the teacher does and students take ownership of their own assessment (learning), that’s when you’re making progress. In the interim, scaffolding is necessary to balance teacher and student feedback opportunities.  4) Feedback isn’t just numbers or grades. Feedback must lead students to “what” they need to do to improve. Diagnostic rather than evaluative.
  • Too often our students just see numbers, percentages and grades and do not view assessments as learning opportunities.  Creating a "feedback mentality" in the classroom is essential to making many of the changes I'll mention later in this presentation.
  • Both know the same….but Suzy traditionally gets a lower grade, because she learned “later.”
  • Disclaimer: my system is not a “one size fits all” approach. I piloted this system for 9 weeks in two sections of Geometry last year and have continued using it this year with ongoing modifications.  You will need to generalize a bit to figure out how some of these strategies and techniques might work in your own classroom.
  • Quick feedback every day during students’ “practice problems” (formerly known as HW).  No longer does "getting the right" answer matter the most.  What incentive do students have to cheat?  Answers are now "free of charge" so that students can get feedback early and often and can instead focus on asking questions such as, "How did you get that answer?" and "Where did I go wrong in my solution?"
  • Discuss red, yellow, green system for turning in HW: students traffic light their homework assignments.  The reasoning is two-fold:  1) it helps develop a "self-assessment" mentality.  2) It gives me, the teacher, an idea of where the student feels he/she is at with those learning targets.  It also creates a "communication" culture where students can write questions about ideas/problems they're still struggling to understand.
  • (Discuss clear learning targets. Discuss how the quiz feedback looks. Discuss what students do when they get their quizzes back) This is just one example of a “formal” formative assessment. Ongoing group work, warm-up problems, practice problems, etc. feed the data machine of teaching throughout the day. BUT this change in assessment practices has also changed the culture of the classroom and how I teach.
  • Discuss 4 point scale, how it relates to coach/sports feedback, how it was communicated with students & parents - which leads to how it looks in the grade book...
  • New grade book. Notice the emphasis on learning. Using a 4 point scale allows learning to be measured over time. Discuss re-take opportunities for students: students may come in outside of class to be re-assessed on any learning target, but must first show that they desire to learn more by sitting through a re-teaching session, completing more practice problems, or any other way the student wishes to increase their level of understanding.   Do many students take advantage of this opportunity?  Not as many as the "this will turn into a paperwork mess" naysayers might think, but some do.  After all, we want students to "learn" - why wouldn't we give them opportunities to do so, even after the "test"?!
  • This “assessment revolution” has literally changed the way I teach. I hope today’s session has challenged you to do the same.
  • These slides, links to some commentary on standards-based grading, and suggested reading are all available on the website.  Feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more or have additional questions that were not answered today.
  • ICTM 2010: How do you know if they know?

    1. 2. How do you know if they know? Matt Townsley Math Educator Solon High School
    2. 3. Demographics check
    3. 4. For more information...   http://tr.im/formativeassess [email_address] Twitter : @mctownsley Blog : www.mctownsley.net
    4. 5. John Doe 3 Good job! 14 __ 16 http://tr.im/formativeassess
    5. 6. “ Assessment always has more to do with helping students grow than with cataloging their mistakes.” -Carol Tomlinson [ The Differentiated Classroom , p. 11] http://tr.im/formativeassess
    6. 7. How much do you know about formative assessment? Lykert scale: 1 – I know very little – that’s why I’m here! 2 – I know a little bit. 3 – I know some, but I don’t know everything. 4 – I know quite a bit and wonder if today’s presenter is going to challenge my beliefs. http://tr.im/formativeassess
    7. 8. Experts say…
    8. 9. “ Formative assessments are defined as any activity that provides sound feedback on student learning.” -Robert Marzano [ Classroom Assessment and Grading that Work , p. 111] http://tr.im/formativeassess
    9. 10. What formative assessment is NOT <ul><ul><li>A specific type of assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A one way process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The same as “grading” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Something you do “every Friday” </li></ul></ul>http://tr.im/formativeassess
    10. 11. Necessary components of formative assessment <ul><ul><li>Offer students a clear picture of learning targets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feedback at the core </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students engaged in self-assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide an understanding of specific steps to improve [Adapted from Black & William, “Inside the Black Box,” 1998] </li></ul></ul>http://tr.im/formativeassess
    11. 12. … from the students’ perspective <ul><ul><li>What knowledge or skills do I aim to develop? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How close am I? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What do I need to do next? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>[Brookhart, How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students, 2008] </li></ul>http://tr.im/formativeassess
    12. 13. Who gets a better grade? Bob : HW: 100%; Quiz: 100%; Test: 100% Suzy : HW: 75%; Quiz: 80%; Test: 100% Which student “knows” more? http://tr.im/formativeasses/
    13. 14. Enough theory. How does it work? http://tr.im/formativeassess
    14. 15. Flickr image used with permission: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dalonian/654769425/
    15. 17. Flickr image used with permission http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnmarchan/562116408/ http://tr.im/formativeassess
    16. 18. http://tr.im/formativeassess
    17. 19. http://tr.im/formativeassess
    18. 21. “ So, changing classroom assessment is the beginning of a revolution – a revolution in classroom practices of all kinds.” -Lorna Earl [ Assessment as Learning: Using Classroom Assessment to Maximize Student Learning , p. 15] http://tr.im/formativeassess
    19. 22. Q & A http://tr.im/formativeassess
    20. 23. For more information...   http://tr.im/formativeassess [email_address] Twitter : @mctownsley Blog : www.mctownsley.net