Assessing Mathematics Reflection – Blog About it PDR #4

Thinking back to high school, I can only think of being assessed in two different ways that were memorable: homework and written tests/exams.  Of this three, I would have to say the most memorable/vivid form of assessment for mathematics would have to be written tests/exams.  This brings thoughts mostly of good experiences that I have had with this form of assessment in my high school mathematics classes.  This is because in high school, I was one of those students who excelled at writing tests and exams.  Also, I never saw a problem with having such a limited variety of assessments because I never knew there were different ways to assess mathematics besides written tests/exams (and homework) until I enrolled in education math classes in university.

Online Portfolios

After the presentations in class on Tuesday, I realize now that there are two other ways that a few of my high school math teachers attempted to assess me: investigation and portfolios.  However, one of my teachers only attempted investigation once and the portfolios were very informal and not efficiently used.  It wasn’t until I had completed my presentation on portfolios that I realized one of my high school teachers had used this form of assessment.  This is because I had previously thought that portfolios were either only art portfolios or the professional kind of portfolios that contained your resume, cover letter, any awards/accomplishments, etc.  So basically, the type of portfolio that I could take into an interview, say for teaching, and show this to my future boss to help increase my chances of being hired.  Now, I am aware that there are different types of portfolios, including student portfolios, and what you can include can vary depending on what your purpose is and what you want your end goal to be.  A few other bits of information that I had learned about portfolios in a math class includes:

1. How you can use portfolios in math – create a portfolio for a famous mathematician, see a student’s thinking process and understanding, provide evidence to parents of their child’s learning and allow them to get involved with their students learning, and to upload assignments on (for online portfolios; this could include presentations, videos, and/or VoiceThreads).

2. What you can include in a portfolio – vocabulary words, videos/presentations, homework, tests/exams, reflections/journal entries, and/or any resources that the student found helpful with math.

3. Advantages – using portfolios in a math class can definitely be more advantageous than not in a math class.  These can be used for showing strengths and areas of improvement, best work, getting parents involved in students learning (for online portfolios), for checking students understanding of materials (through things like reflections), and they can be used as an end of unit/year review, assuming that homework and/or tests have been collected in this portfolio.

During presentations, I had learned about many more different methods of assessment, two in particular where I learned the most were: oral presentations and reports, and anecdotal records and checklists.

Oral Presentations and Reports

I already knew what oral presentations and reports were, but what I didn’t know about them is
1. When to use this method – when opinions need to be shared, at the conclusion of a research as a way of sharing findings, and after content has been explored or experienced.

2. When not to use this method -at the start of a unit or when time is of the essence.

3. Advantages of using this method – builds students communication and public speaking skills, allows creativity and personalization, integrating language skills, and it can be interactive.

4. Disadvantages of using this method – can be stressful for students who are shy, time consuming, can be biased and may not be completely accurate (teacher must mark everything at that time or he/she may forget something essential).

Thinking about this method, I’m not 100% convinced I would use this often in my classroom.  I suppose it is hard to tell until I become comfortable with the idea of it in math and can think of projects that my students can do that can include this method.

Anecdotal Records and Checklists

First of all, I had no idea what anecdotal records were (although I had a slight idea).  In Kelsey’s presentation, I learned that anecdotal records are written observations of what you see taking place in your classroom as students are working.  So, a few other things that I learned about anecdotal records and checklists are:

1. Advantages of this method – facilitate review of assessment and curriculum, provides cumulative information on student learning, and provides ongoing documentation of learning that may be shared with students, parents and teachers.

2. Disadvantages of this method – can be time consuming after class and requires planning and preparation.

3. When to use this method – use to assess the understanding of mathematical concepts and while students are working (both individually or in groups).

I would definitely use this method in my classroom.  In a way, I feel that it is something that we already do when planning our lessons and walking around checking on student work and understanding, just minus the writing notes down on a piece of paper or checklist.

 Purpose of performance-based assessment and  how they connect to ideas of assessment for/as/of/ learning.

From what I’ve learned, performance-based assessment checks a students skills and understanding rather than just checking if the student can compute a correct answer.  It can be used to check if students are at the appropriate achievement level and let you know that your class is ready to move on to other material.  Although many performance-based assessment methods can be time consuming, it is definitely worth the time to use because it checks these important things that simple testing cannot.

In my opinion, most of the performance-based assessment connects with the assessment as learning, although a few fit with assessment for and assessment of learning.  For example, entrance slips can be used as a diagnostic so it could be considered assessment for learning, interviews and anecdotal records and checklists check for student understanding throughout the unit/year, and rubrics and rating scales assess at the end so this is a form of assessment of learning.  However, any of these assessment methods can be manipulated to fit any of the assessment for/as/of learning; so really when you think about it, performance-based assessment connects with all the ideas of assessment and learning and it is definitely worth while to do as students can benefit greatly from this.

Conclusion

In my classroom, I would definitely use performance-based assessment to assess my students.  It provides much more detailed feedback that my students and myself can benefit from rather than just assessing students using tradition methods of testing and homework checks.  This assignment was definitely an eye opener of how different types of assessments can be used in math and for all of you math teachers out there, there are more ways to assess students than just testing! Don’t be afraid to try new things.  These assessment methods are definitely a great starting place at changing the perception of what a typical math classroom is.

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