Category Archives: Assessment

Enhancing Growth Mindset in Math – Learning together

We asked:

How might we, as a community of learners, grow in our knowledge and understanding to enhance the growth mindset of each of our young learners?

As a team, we have completed Jo Boaler’s How to Learn Math: For Students and have shared our thinking, understanding, and learning.

Blending online and face-to-face learning, we worked through the Stanford units outside of school so that we could explore and learn more when together.

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Here are some of the reflections shared by our team.

As a teacher my goal is to help children approach math and all subject areas with a growth mindset. It is of utmost importance that my students truly know that I believe in them and their ability to succeed!

Everyone my age should know that you should never equate being good at math with speed. Just because someone is a slower problem solver does not mean that they are a weak math student. Rather, sometimes the slower math thinkers are the strongest math thinkers because they are thinking about the problem on a deeper level. Being good at math is about being able to think deeply about the problem and making connections with it.

When talking to yourself about your work and learning new things, reminding yourself that you can try harder and improve is critical to potential success.  People are more willing to persevere through difficult tasks (and moments in life) when they engage in positive self talk.  

Mistakes and struggling, in life and in math, are the keys to learning, brain growth, and success.

Thinking slowly and deeply about math and new ideas is good and advantageous to your learning and growth.

Taking the time to think deeply about math problems is much more important than solving problems quickly.  The best mathematicians are the ones who embrace challenges and maintain a determined attitude when they do not arrive at quick and easy solutions.  

Number flexibility is so powerful for [students]. I love discussing how different students can arrive at the same answer but with multiple strategies. 

Working with others, hearing different strategies, and working strategically through problems with a group helps to look at problems in many different ways.

“I am giving you this feedback because I believe in you.”  As teachers, we always try to convey implicitly that we believe in our students, and that they are valued and loved in our class.  However, that explicit message is extraordinary.  It changes the entire perception of corrections or modifications to an essay–from “This is wrong, you need to make it right” to “I want to help you make this the best it can be,” a message we always intended to convey, but may not have been perceived.  

Good math thinkers think deeply and ask questions rather than speeding through for an answer.

Math is a topic that is filled with connections between big ideas.  Numbers are meant to be manipulated, and answers can be obtained through numerous pathways.  People who practice reasoning, discuss ideas with others, have a growth-mindset, and use positive mathematical strategies (as opposed to memorization) are the most successful.

We learn and share.

#ILoveMySchool

Lesson and Assessment Design – #T3Learns

What are we intentional about in our planning, process, and implementation?

  • Are the learning targets clear and explicit?
  • What are important check points and questions to guide the community to know if learning is occurring?
  • Is there a plan for actions needed when we learn we must pivot?

On Saturday, a small cadre of T3 Instructors gathered to learn together, to explore learning progressions, and to dive deeper in understanding of the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

The pitch:

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Jennifer and I fleshed out the essential learning in more detail:

  • I can design lessons anchored in CCSS or NGSS.
    • I can design a lesson incorporating national standards, an interactive TI-Nspire document, a learning progression, and a formative assessment plan.
    • I can anticipate Standards for Mathematical Practice that learners will employ during this lesson.
  • I can design a learning progression for a skill, competency, or process.
    • I can use student-friendly language when writing “I can…” statements.
    • I can design a leveled assessment for students based on a learning progression.
  • I can collaborate with colleagues to design and refine lessons and assessments.
    • I can calibrate learning progressions with CCSS and/or NGSS.
    • I can calibrate learning progressions with colleagues by giving and receiving growth mindset oriented feedback, i.e. I can offer actionable feedback to colleagues using I like… I wonder… what if…
    • I can refine my learning progressions and assessments using feedback from colleagues.

The first morning session offered our friends and colleagues an opportunity to experience a low-floor-high-ceiling task from Jo Boaler combined with a SMP learning progression.  After the break, we transitioned to explore the Standards for Mathematical Practice in community. The afternoon session’s challenge was to redesign a lesson to incorporate the design components experienced in the morning session.

Don’t miss the tweets from this session.

Here are snippets of the feedback:

I came expecting…

  • To learn about good pedagogy and experience in real time examples of the same. To improve my own skills with lesson design and good pedagogy.
  • Actually, I came expecting a great workshop. I was not disappointed. I came expecting that there would be more focus using the TI-Nspire technology (directly). However, the structure and design was like none other…challenging at first…but then stimulating!
  • to learn how to be more deliberate in creating lessons. Both for the students I mentor and for T3 workshops.
  • I came expecting to deepen my knowledge of lesson design and assessment and to be challenged to incorporate more of this type of teaching into my classes.

I have gotten…

  • so much more than I anticipated. I learned how to begin writing clear “I can” statements. I also have been enriched by those around me. Picking the brains of others has always been a win!
  • More than I bargained. The PD was more of an institute. It seemed to have break-out sessions where I could learn through collaboration, participation, and then challenging direct instruction, … and more!
  • a clear mind map of the process involved in designing lessons. A clarification of what learning progressions are. Modeling skills for when I present trainings. Strengthening my understanding of the 8 math practices.
  • a better idea of a learning progression within a single goal. I think I had not really thought about progressions within a single lesson before. Thanks for opening my eyes to applying it to individual lesson goals.

I still need (or want)…

  • To keep practicing to gain a higher level of expertise and comfort with good lesson design. Seeing how seamlessly these high quality practices can be integrated into lessons inspires me to delve into the resources provided and learn more about them. I appreciate the opportunity to stay connected as I continue to learn.
  • days like this where I can collaborate and get feedback on activities that will improve my teaching and delivery of professional development
  • I want to get better at writing the “I can” statements that are specific to a lesson.
  • I want to keep learning about the use of the five practices and formative assessment.

We want to see more collaborative productive struggle, pathways for success, opportunities for self- and formative assessment, productive conversation to learn, and more.

As Jennifer always says … and so the journey continues…

[Cross-posted at Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

 

SMP2: Reason Abstractly and Quantitatively #LL2LU (Take 2)

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We want every learner in our care to be able to say

I can reason abstractly and quantitatively.
(CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2)

But…What if I think I can’t? What if I have no idea how to contextualize and decontextualize a situation? How might we offer a pathway for success?

We have studied this practice for a while, making sense of what it means for students to contextualize and decontextualize when solving a problem.

Students reason abstractly and quantitatively when solving problems with area and volume. Calculus students reason abstractly and quantitatively when solving related rates problems. In what other types of problem do the units help you not only reason about the given quantities but make sense of the computations involved?

What about these problems from The Official SAT Study Guide, The College Board and Educational Testing Service, 2009. How would your students solve them? How would you help students who are struggling with the problems solve them?

There are g gallons of paint available to paint a house. After n gallons have been used, then, in terms of g and n, what percent of the pain has not been used?
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A salesperson’s commission is k percent of the selling price of a car. Which of the following represents the commission, in dollar, on 2 cars that sold for $14,000 each?
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In our previous post, SMP-2 Reason Abstractly and Quantitatively #LL2LU (Take 1), we offered a pathway to I can reason abstractly and quantitatively. What if we offer a second pathway for reasoning abstractly and quantitatively?

Level 4:
I can create multiple coherent representations of a task by detailing solution pathways, and I can show connections between representations.

Level 3:
I can create a coherent representation of the task at hand by detailing a solution pathway that includes a beginning, middle, and end.   

Beginning:
I can identify and connect the units involved using an equation, graph, or table.

Middle:
I can attend to and document the meaning of quantities throughout the problem-solving process.

End:
I can contextualize a solution to make sense of the quantity and the relationship in the task and to offer a conclusion.

Level 2:
I can periodically stop and check to see if numbers, variables, and units make sense while I am working mathematically to solve a task.

Level 1:
I can decontextualize a task to represent it symbolically as an expression, equation, table, or graph, and I can make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations.

What evidence of contextualizing and decontextualizing do you see in the work below?

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[Cross-posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

SMP2: Reason Abstractly and Quantitatively #LL2LU (Take 1)

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We want every learner in our care to be able to say

I can reason abstractly and quantitatively.
(CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2)

I wonder what happens along the learning journey and in schooling. Very young learners of mathematics can answer verbal story problems with ease and struggle to translate these stories into symbols. They use images and pictures to demonstrate understanding, and they answer the questions in complete sentences.

If I have 4 toy cars and you have 5 toy cars, how many cars do we have together?

If I have 17 quarters and give you 10 of them, how many quarters will I have left?

Somewhere, word problems become difficult, stressful, and challenging, but should they? Are we so concerned with the mechanics and the symbols that we’ve lost meaning and purpose? What if every unit/week/day started with a problem or story – math in context? If learners need a mini-lesson on a skill, could we offer it when they have a need-to-know?

Suppose we work on a couple of Standards of Mathematical Practice at the same time.  What if we offer our learners a task, Running Laps (4.NF) or Laptop Battery Charge 2 (S-ID, F-IF) from Illustrative Math, before teaching fractions or linear functions, respectively? What if we make two learning progressions visible? What if we work on making sense of problems and persevering in solving them as we work on reasoning abstractly and quantitatively.  (Hat tip to Kato Nims (@katonims129) for this idea and its implementation for Running Laps.)

Level 4:
I can connect abstract and quantitative reasoning using graphs, tables, and equations, and I can explain their connectedness within the context of the task.

Level 3:
I can reason abstractly and quantitatively.

Level 2:
I can represent the problem situation mathematically, and I can attend to the meaning, including units, of the quantities, in addition to how to compute them.

Level 1:
I can define variables and constants in a problem situation and connect the appropriate units to each.

You could see how we might need to focus on making sense of the problem and persevering in solving it. Do we have faith in our learners to persevere? We know they are learning to reason abstractly and quantitatively.  Are we willing to use learning progressions as formative assessment early and see if, when, where, and why our learners struggle?

Daily we are awed by the questions our learners pose when they have a learning progression to offer guidance through a learning pathway.  How might we level up ourselves? What if we ask first?

Send the message: you can do it; we can help.

[Cross-posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

 

SMP5: Use Appropriate Tools Strategically #LL2LU

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We want every learner in our care to be able to say

I can use appropriate tools strategically.
(CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP5)

But…What if I think I can’t? What if I have no idea what are appropriate tools in the context of what we are learning, much less how to use them strategically? How might we offer a pathway for success?

Level 4:
I can communicate details of how the chosen tools added to the solution pathway strategy using descriptive notes, words, pictures, screen shots, etc.

Level 3:
I can use appropriate tools strategically.

Level 2:
I can use tools to make my thinking visible, and I can experiment with enough tools to display confidence when explaining how I am using the selected tools appropriately and effectively.

Level 1:
I can recognize when a tool such as a protractor, ruler, tiles, patty paper, spreadsheet, computer algebra system, dynamic geometry software, calculator, graph, table, external resources, etc., will be helpful in making sense of a problem.

We still might need some conversation about what it means to use appropriate tools strategically. Is it not enough to use appropriate tools? Would it help to find a common definition of strategically to use as we learn? And, is use appropriate tools strategically a personal choice or a predefined one?

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How might we expand our toolkit and experiment with enough tools to display confidence when explaining why the selected tools are appropriate and effective for the solution pathway used?  What if we practice with enough tools that we make strategic – highly important and essential to the solution pathway – choices?

What if apply we 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions to learn with and from the learners in our community?

  • Anticipate what learners will do and why strategies chosen will be useful in solving a task
  • Monitor work and discuss a variety of approaches to the task
  • Select students to highlight effective strategies and describe a why behind the choice
  • Sequence presentations to maximize potential to increase learning
  • Connect strategies and ideas in a way that helps improve understanding

What if we extend the idea of interacting with numbers flexibly to interacting with appropriate tools flexibly?  How many ways and with how many tools can we learn and visualize the following essential learning?

I can understand solving equations as a process of reasoning and explain the reasoning.  CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSA.REI.A.1

What tools might be used to learn and master the above standard?

  • How might learners use algebra tiles strategically?
  • When might paper and pencil be a good or best choice?
  • What if a learner used graphing as the tool?
  • What might we learn from using a table?
  • When is a computer algebra system (CAS) the go-to strategic choice?

Then, what are the conditions which make the use of each one of these tools appropriate and strategic?

[Cross posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

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“The American Heritage Dictionary Entry: Strategically.” American Heritage Dictionary Entry: Strategically. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2014.

Visual: SMP-3 Construct Viable Arguments and Critique the Reasoning of Others #LL2LU

We want every learner in our care to be able to say

I can construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3

But…what if I can’t? What if I’m afraid that I will hurt someone’s feelings or ask a “stupid” question? How might we facilitate learning and grow our culture where critique is sought and embraced?

From Step 1: The Art of Questioning in The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School.

By learning to insert feedback loops into our thought, questioning, and decision-making process, we increase the chance of staying on our desired path. Or, if the path needs to be modified, our midcourse corrections become less dramatic and disruptive. (Lichtman, 49 pag.)

This paragraph connects to a Mr. Sun quote from Step 0: Preparation.

But there are many more subtle barriers to communication as well, and if we cannot, or do not choose to overcome these barriers, we will encounter life decisions and try to solve problems and do a lot of falconing all by ourselves with little, if any, success. Even in the briefest of communications, people develop and share common models that allow them to communicate effectively.  If you don’t share the model, you can’t communicate. If you can’t communicate, you can’t teach, learn, lead, or follow.  (Lichtman, 32 pag.)

How might we offer a pathway for success? What if we provide practice in the art of questioning and the action of seeking feedback? What if we facilitate safe harbors to share  thinking, reasoning, and perspective?

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Level 4:
I can build on the viable arguments of others and take their critique and feedback to improve my understanding of the solutions to a task.

Level 3:
I can construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

Level 2:
I can communicate my thinking for why a conjecture must be true to others, and I can listen to and read the work of others and offer actionable, growth-oriented feedback using I like…, I wonder…, and What if… to help clarify or improve the work.

Level 1:
I can recognize given information, definitions, and established results that will contribute to a sound argument for a conjecture.

How might we design opportunities for intentional, focused peer-to-peer discourse? What if we share a common model to improve communication, thinking, and reasoning?

[Cross-posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

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Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

SMP3: Construct Viable Arguments and Critique the Reasoning of Others #LL2LU

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 5.14.27 PMWe want every learner in our care to be able to say

I can construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3

But…what if I can’t? What if I’m afraid that I will hurt someone’s feelings or ask a “stupid” question? How may we create a pathway for students to learn how to construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others?

Level 4:
I can build on the viable arguments of others and take their critique and feedback to improve my understanding of the solutions to a task.

Level 3:
I can construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

Level 2:
I can communicate my thinking for why a conjecture must be true to others, and I can listen to and read the work of others and offer actionable, growth-oriented feedback using I like…, I wonder…, and What if… to help clarify or improve the work.

Level 1:
I can recognize given information, definitions, and established results that will contribute to a sound argument for a conjecture.

Our student reflections on using the Math Practices while they are learning show that they recognize the importance of construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

Jordan says “If you can really understand something you can teach it. Every person relates to and thinks about problems in a different way, so understanding different ways to get to an answer can help to broaden your knowledge of the subject. Arguments are all about having good, logical facts. If you can be confident enough to argue for your reasoning you have learned the material well.jordan quote

And Franky says that construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others is “probably our most used mathematical practice. If someone has a question about a problem, Mrs. Wilson is always looking for a student that understands the problem to explain it. And once he or she is finished, Mrs. Wilson will ask if anyone got the correct answer, but worked it a different way. By seeing multiple ways to work the problem, it is easier for me to fully understand.”

franky quote

What if we intentionally teach feedback and critique through the power of positivity? Starting with I like indicates that there is value in what is observed. Using because adds detail to describe/indicate what is valuable.  I wonder can be used to indicate an area of growth demonstrated or an area of growth that is needed.  Both are positive; taking the time to write what you wonder indicates care, concern, and support.  Wrapping up with What if is invitational and builds relationships.

Move the fulcrum so that all the advantage goes to a negative mindset, and we never rise off the ground. Move the fulcrum to a positive mindset, and the lever’s power is magnified— ready to move everything up. (Achor, 65 pag.)

The Mathy Murk has recently written a blog post called “Where do I Put P?” An Introduction to Peer Feedback, sharing a template for offering students a structure for both providing and receiving feedback.

Could Jessica’s template, coupled with this learning progression, give our students a better idea of what we mean when we say construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others?

[Cross-posted at Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

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Achor, Shawn (2010-09-14). The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Kindle Locations 947-948). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.