So I planned a day of practice ... which my students needed. It wasn't a waste at all. We had plowed through two long lessons on factoring and completing the square with very little independent work. If the procedural learning is going to stick I knew students needed to work more problems on their own.

I describe our day of practice here.

Near the end of class, I used a formative assessment strategy called "Give Me Five" from

*Mathematics Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning*by Keeley and Tobey. I chose the strategy because it required no prep work, and would provide for me some feedback on students' thinking.

I simply asked students, "Reflect on your work today. What procedures are becoming easy for you? What procedures are you finding to be difficult still?" I paused a minute (a longer pause would have been good). Then I asked for responses. At first students seemed reluctant to share aloud. Then one student said, "Today's practice helped me. I get it now." Another said, "I like the kick it method of factoring!" Another said, "I still struggle with completing the squares when fractions are involved." Several other students responded. The impromptu reflection provided some insight into students' thinking. I knew before the exercise that students need more work with fractions but their conversation during the reflection confirmed it!

I'd like to practice this short reflective pause at the end of class more often. I want to students to be comfortable sharing their thoughts about their math understanding.

PS ... if you don't own the book, this website has many of the strategies with descriptions!

I like the Give Me Five strategy and use it about once every two or three weeks. When I first started using this formative assessment strategy, I over-used it. The strategy's effectiveness for me is based on two factors - 1) quality of question(s) I ask to provide access for all students and more than shallow contributions and 2) timing the use of the strategy so students are familiar with it, but don't "get tired" of it.

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