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Formative Assessment – Something to think about

As we are investigating assessment for learning in the math classroom, one of the things that comes to mind is how are we communicating that constructive feedback to the learner so that they can modify their thinking with the purpose of improving their learning? Research shows that providing feedback that moves the learner forward is a critical part of formative assessment. How do we create a culture of intrinsic learners in our math classrooms? Formative assessment is a wonderful way for educators to identify gaps in learning the developmental concepts of math and to help guide instruction, but what are some strategies you use in math to encourage students to think about their learning and to self-assess?


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Video Notetaking

Today, I posed a problem solving pattern question to my class and gave them manipulatives. So, taking into consideration Tanya’s great comments, I decided to grab my class’ iPad and record their process. I reminded myself more than once: “Don’t give in to their frustration”. I let them get frustrated! I recorded their process and conferenced with groups! I wrote on tables with whiteboard markers and reminded them of the question. It was a very meaningful process and now I have notes to inform my teaching for next week. It took very little record keeping, no clipboard, or difficult to decode notes, no distractions and forgetting what I observed. Have you tried that before? What were the challenges? What successes have you had with it?


formal/informal assessment

In math journals students were asked : “If the difference between two numbers is 20, what might those numbers be ? I   I have a clipboard I walk around with and check off at various times. I allowed them 3 mins to come up with as much as they could.  It was interesting to note who stuck to lower numbers such as 21-1 , 22-2 ,etc. and who automatically went to thousands and ten thousands (which is what we are actually focusing in on).  Midway through, I told them  to try to use numbers in the hundreds or thousands if they had used tens.  I noted when students got squirmy, looked around, SLOWED down in their computations.

Game-we played “Nombre cible” which allowed students to demonstrate their learning. It was easy to tell who had mastered the concept, who was learning and who needed some re teaching.

We also completed a rounding up activity, to the nearest hundred, thousand, ten thousand.  After much practice, students handed in 5 questions completed on a recipe card as their exit slip.  From here I could tell who had mastered the concept and who did not. The next class I did guided math with those who did not have this concept


Math Resource

I found this website earlier this month and shared it with the gr 2 team.

Virtual manipulatives website from McGraw Hill Education.  It is great because you can change the manips and make the cubes link together, and flip the two-sided counters to change colours too! (easier than using Smart Notebook!)



Guided Math

I just need to share one moment from Math centers and guided Math today. I was working with a small group (the students who hadn’t yet consistently demonstrated their understanding of increasing patterns), and began by modelling a pattern and describing the increasing rule. Next, I asked the students to copy the pattern, and make what would come next. As I talked with one student about how to make the pattern grow, she looked at me and said “Oh! Now I get it!”. While she hadn’t grasped the skill during whole class instruction, with this small group time, she had the opportunity to work with me and see exactly what I was doing to create and extend my pattern, and successfully copied my pattern and then created her own. One down, two more to go tomorrow! 🙂


Math Journals

This week we tackled Math journals (again). After reviewing how to set up the page, I gave the students one question “How many patterns can you make with a circle, a square, and a triangle?”. As I walked around the room, it was easy to see who had mastered the basics, who was peeking across the table to look for more ideas, and who was thinking creatively. The students were so quiet and worked diligently for 15 minutes or more! While some students created AB or ABC patterns, others had produced ten or more variations with multiple elements. It was clear by the number, and difficulty, of the patterns created who needed more practice, and who had a firm grasp on repeating patterns. Next we’ll see who has mastered increasing patterns!

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Math Resource

I just came across this great website for math resources. I thought I would share it. It has a ton of PDF files based on different strands and much more. It also has a page for Math based games and themes. It could be helpful in planning our Math Fun Day and for getting assesI just came across this great website for math resources. I thought I would share it. It has a ton of PDF files based on different strands and much more. It also has a page for Math based games and themes. It could be helpful in planning our Math Fun Day and for getting assesment ideas. Mathwire.com ment ideas.


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Pattern Assessments

Yesterday, I took Sara M’s suggestion and videoed my class performing their own action patterns.  They loved this idea and after I gave them their instructions (create any one action pattern with your partner and practice it to have it recorded), they set off to do their job with much enthusiasm! They all immediately got right down to it!  It wasn’t so much so that they were thrilled to create the actual pattern, but they were thrilled to know that it would be recorded on the iPad.  Once everyone’s video was recorded (it didn’t take very long at all because they did it in pairs), we watched the videos on the smartboard and attempted to guess and extend the patterns.

I used this activity as a formative assessment in mulitple ways:

-I observed the pairs as they created and practiced (who was leading, were they working together as a team)

-I observed the recordings and you could quite obviously see who had to watch their partner in order to follow the pattern and who could recite the action pattern no problem

-I observed the students as they were watching the recordings and made note of those students who could follow and extend the patterns

I’m happy to say that the majority of my class has met and/or exceeded our patterning outcomes!  🙂

Here’s the video that I posted to my teacher page as an example. Let me know what you think and how you might assess this…




This is the best kind of PD

This link is to a blog from DeanShareski (DEN). It reminds us that teacher action research is not clean and simple but critical in contributing to public discourse around education.


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Posting Videos

There has been quite a bit of conversation with some members of our group regarding posting our videos to Youtube and then connecting them to our weebly as we had planned. We can embed the video into the weebly but if students click on the youtube logo it takes them to youtube and all the suggested videos. The concern is that some of these suggested videos may not be appropriate. We cannot override this link or eliminate the suggested videos on the site. I have a suggestion but I am certainly open to any feedback you may have. What if we upload videos/photos directly to our teacher pages? One of our aims of the inquiry group is better home-school communication regarding teaching, learning and assessment in math. It would address this goal. It’s slightly less convenient for our inquiry to have videos in separate spots for data purposes but it doesn’t impede student communication of learning or connecting with home.