Assessment in MFM1P – Update

Here’s a short update on my grade 9 applied course. I’ll try to explain this as clearly as I can…bare with me.

An integral part has been our weekly mastery days. I’ve written about those days along with the tools that make them possible here. These days have been so important to our learning and we will definitely be doing them again next semester.

Allowing For Differentiated Learning and More Student Accountability.

Having these days allows students to have more responsibility in their learning not less! We are using a web based and app based tool called Freshgrade (You can read about how I set that up for mastery days here – this post will be mostly about the benefits). On our mastery days students have to scan through their portfolio and decide which learning goals (expectations) to improve on….then, they, the student, has to go and make that improvement happen (Each LG in Freshgrade has links to questions for them work on). So our mastery day is filled with students all working on different expectations from the course — according to their need. With the encouragement I give them they know it’s up to them to work towards mastery on each learning goal.

Student view of a learning goal to improve:

An activity in Freshgrade I’ve called a learning goal. Each one shows student achievement and next steps to improve.

Capturing Growth Informs Instruction & Assessment

The portfolio tool in Freshgrade is amazing. It captures and holds all of their work. It provides me great insight into their learning. As students work to improve their learning goals (expectations) they upload pictures of their work through the app. I get to see that work and provide audio or written feedback also through the web/app or in person. What I love is that I get to see all that interaction for each learning goal (expectation) forever. I can see the growth that my students are making. My old spreadsheet tool never tracked past work…only most recent. I love being able to see a student’s thinking progression as they attempt problems. It makes me as a teacher more confident about that student’s ability on the course expectations.

For example, this student uploaded a picture of their work on solving a proportion. They were confused on the nature of proportional relationships. After a comment and talking with the student they made corrections and re-uploaded. Their next step is to attempt a new problem to show consistency. That progression of learning stays in their portfolio for us both to see!

A student view of their portfolio:

Can’t see the video? Click through to the post

Capturing all of their progress and achievement in Freshgrade also provides me a ton of data. Since I set up the categories in Freshgrade to be the strands from the curriculum and each learning goal is assigned to one of those strands I get to see my class’ achievement on those strands. For example, If I filter the activities (learning goals) to only see the ones for linear relations I can see if we need to work more on linear relations. This has been great in the spiralled course. We can spend more time on what we need.

Gradebook view showing learning goals and student achievement.

I hope I explained our mastery day process clearly……now, onto an updated day-to-day plan for MFM1P.

Planning:

Each semester I’ve spiralled I’ve kept a spreadsheet that outlines my day-to-day. In the links below you can see those outlines in detail. I’ve included each semester on it’s own tab.

Webpage view of the outline

Get your own copy of the Google Sheet (You’ll need a Google account).

Sign up for a free Freshgrade account

Lesson Study & Big Ideas

For the last few years my school has been apart of the SSI (School Support Initiative). In small teacher groups we discussed learning gaps we see in our students and then implemented teaching strategies to shorten those gaps.

Last year we identified perseverance as a learning gap. We felt that our grade  9 and 10 applied level students gave up too easily. If an answer didn’t come to them right away they “packed it in” and didn’t really try. We also felt that, especially in math this “packing it in” was due to lack of confidence in their ability. We spent the year focussing on giving great feedback and using growth mindset language. We spent our release time money on mostly bringing in supply teachers while we conferences with students. We talked about where they were and gave them specific feedback to help them get better. We always talked in terms of constant improvement.

This year we are a cross curricular group: 3 math teachers, 1 science and 1 geography. We had a great brainstorming session on learning gaps. Although I still think confidence in math is a huge deterrent in producing quality work we decided our learning gap would be

“Student understanding of main ideas and the big picture”

Our group felt that students sometimes were missing the main idea during and after a lesson. Students might be able to get by memorizing what we were doing in class but missed the big idea.

In my class I wanted to see if this was a problem…. So we set out to get a pre-assessment. We needed to see who in our classes was getting the big idea and who wasn’t. I decided to use Andrew Stadel’s Filing Cabinet problem and not tell them in advance we were learning about surface area. I wanted to see if they could see past the filing cabinet and see that we are solving problems with surface area.

Act 1: The video

If you’re not familiar with this problem read about here or grab the full lesson on 101qs.com

Have a look at this solution….there is a 936 post it note answer in there somewhere!

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After we solved the problem I presented them with this slide

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Here are some of their responses.

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Our next step is Lesson Study! Every time we meet we will plan together an upcoming lesson for one teacher. Then we will all go and watch to see the student reactions and thinking during this lesson. This will be my first time going through this process and I’m pretty excited to plan a lesson with 4 other teachers. I am interested to go through this process to improve my teaching and improve student learning around the big ideas!

Exit book, feedback, and performance walls

This activity ties descriptive feedback, exit cards, and performance walls all together. Instead of doing an exit card at the end of every lesson students make a book to do the exit questions in. At the end of the lesson they complete the exit question in their book and leave it behind for assessment and feedback by me. While marking the questions I pick out a typical level 4 response, take a picture of it, print it out and display it on the performance wall. Students can view the wall during the unit to see “good” answers. Also, they will have a collection of typical test questions in their exit book to study from.

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