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Assessment in a Mathematics Classroom March 3, 2014

Posted by jennienorgaard in EMTH 350.
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Dear best friend,

I was just watching a video on high school mathematics and it was talking about how high schools are currently at the midst of a dramatic change for the way in which the approaches to mathematics should be. For example it is asking the students to begin to go beyond the mimicry/regurgitation and memorization in math classrooms. Instead they want students to start to investigate the complex problems they are given, communicate their ideas with their peers and teachers and to then become critical thinkers. I think this is a great idea that needs to be implemented as I clearly remember in high school how we use to all try and remember the process in how to do the problems prior to the exam. We never actually went beyond the process of how to do the problems in math class. I think this is mainly because we were marked only on homework checks, quizzes and exams. Due to this, memorizing was one of the best ways in order to get a good grade in the end.

Another topic that was discussed in this video was the idea that the way in which students are evaluated needs to evolve as well. For example, it talks about how evaluating groups is just as essential as evaluating individuals. The video talks about how this can be implemented through group tests. However, group tests are not a way to look for evidence of process. There are other ways to mark for group process such as participation quizzes. These look like group tests but the assessment goal in the end is different. This is because in a participation quiz the teacher is more interested in the quality of the conversations. Participation quizzes allow for the in-depth discussions to occur. I think this is important to do, as sometimes the quality of the conversation is more important than the process in how to do the problems. I say this because when teachers can listen to these different conversations taking place, this is a great way to assess your students based on what they know and how they are dealing with the problem. Whereas teachers cannot really assess their students as well based on the process in how they approached the problems. This video talks about more essential ways to mark for process such as in homework, class participation, class response, tests as this allows the teacher to see if the students are grasping the concepts that he or she is teaching.

The video also talks about how assessment doesn’t always result in a grade at the end. There are different forms of assessment such as assessment cards where students give suggestions on how to improve for their peers. This is a way for the students to go back and improve before handing in the final result. The video also talks about how it is more important if a student can go up to the front of the class and explain/present the questions they did in front of their peers. This is also more valuable than asking your students to do questions on a piece of paper and then hand it in. I also agree with this because I remember in high school how some students were scrambling last minute to try and get the answers for some of the questions from their classmates or from their friends. This way they are not learning anything at all. They are just copying the answers from their friends to make sure they get a good mark in the end and that it is completed. When really this isn’t very smart, as how much the students know will reflect on the exams that they write. This way if students have to go to the front and talk about the process they did for their questions, this ensures that all students are responsible for doing their own work and they are contributing to their own learning. This is also a good way for the teacher to assess the students when they go to the front and discuss their problem to their peers. This process also allows the students to ask questions to the presenters.

Lastly, the video talks about the importance it is for high school math teachers to change the different forms of assessment provided. The changing of assessment will offer students better instruction and build a greater self-confidence in their ability to do math in the end. I think in the end this will be very beneficial as it will start steering away from the idea of students copying assignments off their peers and not necessarily learning or contributing to their own learning in any way. I also think that if students are provided with more forms of assessment they could have a different view on mathematics if they are excelling at it.

I think that you should take some time and watch this video as it has a lot of information on here that could help you understand mathematics at a different level. It could help you get a better understanding of math instead of always just memorizing different concepts and finding math to be useless and not important in our lives. It is also more beneficial to actually see these different things being implemented in a classroom as opposed to just reading about it.

Another video that I watched was called Beyond Testing. This video also talks about how assessment is changing because how children are learning is also changing. It talks about how learning is now based on the process of making sense or making meaning of math, whereas learning use to be all about acquiring information. Students are now also expected to be able to make connections between mathematics and the real world. Due to all these changes, teachers have to change the way they assess their students on what it is they are doing and instead start evaluating their performances. I believe that this is really important as what students come up with for the final answer shouldn’t be as important as how they got there. By being more concerned about how the students got to their final answer makes it easier for teachers to assess the students. Not only is it easier to assess, but also teachers can see how they need to change their instructions if students do not understand how to do the problems properly and so on. After all, assessment is based on the different perspectives the students can have and not just about what percentage they get in the end. The video emphasizes that assessment affects and drives instruction. What we assess and how we assess communicate to a teacher certain skills, practices and knowledge that are very important. The video emphasizes that it is important to assess students in a variety of ways as they all learn in multiple different ways. I think this is extremely important as in high school we were only assessed through exams and quizzes. I don’t think this is fair at all considering the idea that not all students do well on exams.

The video talks about how we should begin to utilize performance based assessment more. This gives you more information from different perspectives, you can hear the students’ explanations of their ideas, you see how they can response to particular questions and you can see how they solve problems. By allowing for this type of assessment it allows for a more complete and balanced conception of students as well as promote equity in the classroom. Equity is the vehicle for being successful. So as a teacher you need to offer the opportunity for students to demonstrate what it is they know and you also need to be flexible so that you can recognize that there are different ways of demonstrating this knowledge. I agree with this, as I don’t think it is fair to be assessing students on things that they are not comfortable with demonstrating. For example, if students are bad at exams don’t assess them strictly on exams as that is not fair and doesn’t provide the opportunity for your students to demonstrate all that they have learned.

This video goes on to explain the four broad purposes of assessment. These include: monitoring student progress, making instructional decisions, evaluating student achievement, and evaluating programs. Assessment allows teachers to see if their students understand what they are learning and if they have to change their instruction to meet the needs of the students. It is important to involve your students in the assessment process. Assessment is also a form of improving teaching in the classroom. I think assessment needs to be utilized more and provided in a variety of ways in a classroom. I know this was not always the case in high school as there were rarely any forms of assessments apart from the exams.

This is another video that you should take a look at, as it can give you a better understanding of how assessment can be changed in a classroom and how it can be both beneficial for both the students and the teachers in the end. This video is also a great visual on how assessment can be used apart from the traditional exams. Instead this video streams away from the exams and uses a variety of different methods to assess the students. I hope these two videos and this information was enough to help you understand the importance it is for teachers to provide the proper assessment to their students. I also hope that you begin to understand the importance behind each of these different assessment forms and understand that mathematics shouldn’t just be about how well you can memorize concepts and regurgitate them on exams. Mathematics is way more than just that!

Hope this all helps!

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