Guided Math {Chapter Eight}

I know I’m a newbie teacher but I feel that assessment has
taken on a different meaning and purpose in the last decade of
instruction.  When I was in elementary
school, which was longer than just a decade ago, you worked on a given topic for
a week or two and then took a chapter test. 
Nowadays, assessment is an ongoing process in which we as teachers are
always provided with information to guide our instruction.  I don’t know about you but I think that’s a
change for the better.

Before you can begin to assess students on their learning it
is important to give them “A Vision for Learning” according to Sammons.  She says that “people tend to be more
successful in any endeavor if they have in mind a vision of success for which
to aim.”  (Sammons, 231)  By showing students what you expect them to
learn or anticipate covering in a given unit allows them to know what is coming
and what they must accomplish.  The
trouble is….how do we do this?

Establishing Criteria
for Success:

Checklists: I personally
LOVE this idea but can’t quite wrap my mind around its use in mathematics.  You can consider this another ‘To-Do List”
item.  By using a checklist, students are
given the opportunity to look at list of steps or procedures and determine if
they have completed the problem correctly. 
In my opinion, we do this all the time with anchor charts.  We show students how to complete a problem
using a given set of steps but how many times to we give them a tool to
physically refer back to it and check off that they have completed each step?  How often do we require them to comment or
reflect on their process versus the checklist given?  These are quality ways in which we can make
sure that students are evaluating their own success. 

Rubrics:  I’ll be honest, I don’t use rubrics in my
room often and I can’t really even think of a justification or reason why.  I guess that means I have another thing to
add to my “To-Do List.”  Rubrics allow
students to see exactly what is expected as well as evaluate the quality of
their own work prior to submitting an assignment.  When using a rubric, you should always give
them to students prior to completing the assignment so that they know what your
standards are.  It would also be a great
idea to post the rubric in the room for reference throughout the completion of
the assignment.  Rubrics also allow peers
to work together to begin assessing and assisting one another develop quality
work.

The Value of
Descriptive Feedback:

Students who receive descriptive feedback throughout a task
are able to see what they complete correctly and what things need to be
corrected.  In this section I absolutely
enjoyed a metaphor about a coach and ball player that Sammons used to describe
the purpose of descriptive feedback.  “The
coaching is not given only at the end of an event, but instead, is given during training so that the athletes
are able to make adjustments to improve their performances prior to testing
them in competitions.”  (Sammons,
238)  DUH!  Do we usually coach our students BEFORE or
AFTER the game?  I’ve been in many
classrooms where the coaching is held off until AFTER the big test to give
descriptive feedback.  By that point,
students (especially my special education students) have repeatedly practiced
mathematical tasks incorrectly.  After
the assessment is too late to begin giving descriptive feedback.   When
giving descriptive feedback, Sammons suggests that it:

  *comes during and
after the learning

  *it is easily
understood

  *is related directly
to the learning

  *is specific, so
performance can improve

  *involves choice on
the part of the learner as to the type of feedback and how to receive it

  *is part of an
ongoing conversation about learning

  *is in comparison
models, exemplars, samples, or descriptions

  *is about the performance of the work—not the person

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