Greetings, and happy Sunday, friends! I don’t know about you, but I’m really starting to feel the back to school pressure. Which is why I was so happy when the weatherman predicted a gross Sunday, because it’s much easier to convince the hubs that I need to spend a (summer) weekend working on school stuff when the weather is yucky. And it doesn’t hurt that we both shirked all adult-like responsibilities and went to the pool all. day. long yesterday. It was glorious! And then we acted like we were both 22 again and went out way too late last night with friends. Whoopsie! But all in all it’s been a very fun weekend; I even made eggs benedict this morning (first time ever)! You can start calling me Martha Stewart whenever you’re ready. 😉
Today, I want to talk about evaluating student work/products in an inverted math model, especially since it’s much less cut and dry than a typical word problem. Of course there are still answers that are right and wrong, but there’s a lot of information you can learn from your students’ work, even if their answer is ultimately incorrect.
Initially, I was using a simple check/check plus/check minus system to evaluate my littles’ work during this time, but I really felt like it wasn’t really meaningful for them or for me. And if evaluation isn’t driving future/forward progress then what’s the point? So I spent some time brainstorming and trying to think about what I really wanted out of my kids’ work, and how I could communicate it to them in a kid friendly way. I’ve always liked the idea of rubrics, but conversely also frequently had a hard time using them in a meaningful way in my classroom. And then I was paging through this unit that I bought from Deana Jump and DeeDee Wills and they had a writing rubric inside that was based on smiley faces, which I thought was really brilliant, and it was sort of like the clouds parted and I had this flash of teacher brilliance: I could use a similar evaluation system for the math work that I was doing with my kids. But one thing that was really important to me is that my kids bought into the rubric, also. So I brainstormed the things that I really wanted to make sure were included in the rubric, and then I sat my kids down on the carpet the next day for math and I told them that we needed to think about what the very best first grade mathematician work looks like, and what it looks like when you’re not doing your very best work and this is what we came up with.
After we made this chart, we had an epic dance party because we spent so much time on the carpet making it, then I laminated it and it hung up in our classroom the rest of the year. The next thing I did that I really think helped my kids have a clear understanding of the work at each level is that we evaluated some anonymous work together as a class. We went over what different mathematicians produced and I asked them what symbol they would have put on it, and then I showed them what symbol I actually gave it. We did this for about 2 or 3 days so that they really understood how to get smiley face exclamation point (which, by the end of the year, was one long word in our classroom–smileyfaceexclamationpoint). I really feel like this rubric helped my students be clearer about the way I was evaluating their work, and it gave us all a common language to use around discussing our mathematical work. It was great to see kids using the chart with their partners to think about what they needed to add to make their work even better.
For those of you wondering how I tracked the data across units, I’m here for you. =) I really tracked this data in 2 ways. I would create a chart in word of the problems we were doing each week, and all my kids names and then I would just put the symbol they earned in their box. This allowed me to look across the week and see if there was a student who really understood and should maybe be pushed harder, or if there was a student, or group of students who really didn’t seem like they were understanding our content that week. The other way I tracked it was numerically, in a grade book so that I could use these symbols to factor into my students’ math grades at the end of the quarter. I just used a 4/3/2/1 system, with the 4 being equivalent to the smiley face exclamation point, and the 1 being equivalent to the straight face. I didn’t use 3/2/1/0 because I feel like zeros can really wreck an average. But you are, of course, the boss of you.
Honestly, I had planned to talk about evaluation and leading a share/debrief in the same post, but I feel like this is already a super long post, so we’ll save leading the debrief for tomorrow. And last but not least I am working hard at making my debut on Teachers Pay Teachers, and I’ll be sharing the documents that I use in my own classroom to make this model work–planning guides, tasks that I’ve already written, blank rubrics for you to fill in, and maybe a quick how-to guide, if you think that would be helpful. I hope to have all of those documents ready to go by this Wednesday. If there’s anything else you’d like to know let me know! I aim to please. =)
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!