I went back to my session on "Just Enough intervention" to close gaps in students' knowledge, and we discussed pre-assessments. Like many other teachers before me, I assumed that we pre-assessed at the beginning of a unit or course then gave students the same test at the end of the unit. We discussed how reassessments need to be designed and administered.
Here is what I learned about giving and creating solid pre-assessments
- Don’t pre-assess on what students do not know becuause it does not give relevant information.
- Pre-assess on what students should have learned in previous years.
- One skill per question
- Short (one page)
- For students who have perseverance issues
- Double sided, lots of white writing space
- One skill per question (do not mix skills in one question)
- As little language as possible
- Completely low stakes (what you know and what you don’t)
- No penalty to doing poorly (other than knowing what you need to know)
- Know where deficits are extremely quickly
However, this is the most important piece of info that I learned. **If you are not going to do anything with the data, then do not give the pre-assessment.** Wow! What a powerful statement! That blew my mind when I heard this.
Then I went to Anna Vance's (@TypeAMathLand)session on Make it Stick. This is a book that is at the top of my list to read, but I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy. It's the very, very end of summer, and I am down to necessities. So, maybe here in a few weeks, I will get a copy. I took notes frantically during this session, and Anna did a great job summarizing the main points of Make it Stick while describing ways that we as teachers can apply Make it Stick in our classrooms.
I learned that we oftentimes are bad judges at what we think we know and what we don't. We discussed retrieval of info as well as giving students spaced and interleaved practice. I definitely want to have students do a better job of retrieval as well as designing assignments that are considered to be spaced and interleaved practice. I guess I should explain those terms. Spaced practice is where students are given a few days before being assigned the skill to practice, and interleaved practice is where students are given mixed types of problems in practice. Reflection is another important piece, and I think that having students reflect at the end of our lessons was a common theme at TMC16, and I, along with many of the attendees, need to do a better job of closing our lessons.
The last session was from Jonathan Claydon (@rawrdimus) on Hack it to Pieces. We took pieces of curriculum and searched for common themes and standards to group instead of doing the same progression in our courses. For example, grouping graphing together, equations together, etc. I want to eventually be able to do this, but with so much happening between TMC and school starting (Friday, July 29), I wasn't able to pull it off this semester, but maybe I can for the next semester.
I can't forget My Favorites and the keynote! I enjoyed Dave Sabol (@Dave_Sabol) discuss Math and Maps along with Voronoi diagrams along with the Jason Davies website. Check it out! I also enjoyed listening to Heather Kohn's talk on the engineering design process and how we are often guilty of not doing engineering projects in math class. Guilty as charged! I also liked Anna Blinstein's presentation on Feedback meetings. I would really love to try this idea as well, but I would have to really think about how to most effectively implement this. I also like Connie Haugneland's stories about Rwanda and Sam Shah's Explore Math.
Last but not least, I cannot forget Tracy Zager's Keynote. I liked how real she was with all of us and discussed how important it was for elementary and secondary math teachers to work together. The most important piece of her keynote was to not skip the close of a lesson.
After the conference, I went with a group from TMC to Minnehaha Falls and on a little hike to the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers.