Thursday, April 26, 2018

Push Students to Work like Mathematicians with Practice Standards

Practice standards come from assessments that measure progress towards one or more of the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice or other 21st Century Learning Skills. I typically assess these with with collaborative tasks or projects and grade them with a rubric. The tasks I use vary widely between formal performance tasks, group presentations, debates, modeling tasks, games of taboo and pictionary, error analysis, and more.

My rubrics also vary. The practice standard rubrics are out of 10 points, like my content standard rubrics, but the rows depend on the specific task students are doing and the skill I am trying to assess.

One thing that has become consistent is when I assess practice standards. I like to start units or topics with a collaborative anchor task that the rest of the unit can relate back to. I don't grade this anchor task, but I do give students feedback. Then, we go ahead with the regular lessons. Towards the end of the unit, I have students work on a task that is similar to the anchor task, and this time I grade it with practice standards.This has a few benefits:

  • Student's level of anxiety is lower because they have already seen a similar anchor task
  • The teacher can get a clear assessment of where they are at with the practice standards because content standards shouldn't be holding them back
  • A collaborative task can serve as a good review for a summative assessment 
  • Using similar tasks as bookends on a unit gives students a chance to reflect back and see how the mathematics they learned allowed them to dig deeper into a specific problem.

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