This weekend I traveled with three math teachers from Atlanta, Georgia, to Lansing, Michigan for a Connected Math Conference at Michigan State University. I learned a lot! From sessions on formative assessments to reviewing fraction strategies to asking focus questions to strengthening algebraic thinking across grade levels, I walked away with tons of new ideas and things to think about.
My immediate takeaways are things teachers can use in the classroom right away… Here are my top 5:
1) Asking students to plot their own formative assessment scores throughout a unit. The presenter who shared this idea includes about 4-5 formative assessments per unit, each one based on a specific goal or two from the unit. Students are responsible for tracking their own progress and they are accountable for seeking assistance if their scores do not reflect mastery of the material.
2) The same presenter showed us this document that she uses during class to note observations on formative assessments:
3) On a review day, one teacher gives all her students the same problem to complete individually. The problem includes several major concepts from the unit. When students finish, they turn in this problem and begin working on a more collaborative review. While they’re working, the teacher flips through the problems from the start of class and briefly conferences with each student, discussing observable strengths and weaknesses from that problem. It gives every student some one-on-one time with the teacher before an assessment.
4) Desmos and Geogebra. These are fun, interactive, FREE online tools available through the web (although I think you can install Geogebra too). Desmos is a free graphing calculator that is pretty intuitive to use. Also, at teacher.desmos.com, you as a teacher can set up interactive lessons/games for students that build algebraic thinking. I may or may not have been playing some of the Desmos games while waiting at the airport to go home – they are that fun, I promise. Geogebra reminds me of Geometers Sketchpad, a powerful instruction tool that connects algebra and geometry.
5) Adding to my list of books/articles I want to read… These were referenced and/or explored to some extent at the conference and I am intrigued…
“Seven Keys to Effective Feedback” by Grant Wiggins
5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions, by Margaret Smith (our keynote speaker)
Embedded Formative Assessment, by Dylan Wiliam
Transformative Assessment, by James Popham
These are my immediate takeaways… more to come.