Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Guided Math In Action Book Study - Chapter 5

Let me begin with an apology. I'm so sorry for the interruption of our book study. Life has gotten in the way over the past week and prevented me from keeping to the original schedule.  I'm attempting to catch up now. Today, I'll be posting about Chapter 5.  Chapters 6 & 7 are forthcoming.



I really enjoyed reading this chapter because it reinforced my beliefs about assessment and record keeping for instruction. Dr. Newton encouraged using a variety of assessments to evaluate the whole student. Those assessments included:

  • pre-assessments to determine student needs
  • ongoing assessments such as anecdotal records, checklists, one on one conferences, and math running records, to closely monitor students' progress through the unit
  • evaluative assessments to analyze and use with students to set goals and to make decisions about future learning.  
Dr. Newton also emphasized the need for good record-keeping and gave several examples of forms and methods of note-taking.


Question 1 - What types of pre-assessments, ongoing assessments, and summative assessments do you use?

While I absolutely agree with the importance of pre-assessments, formative assessments, and summative assessments in meeting student needs, in practical terms, this has been one of my challenges in math workshop.  

I have attempted to use one on one assessment interviews to determine student knowledge before beginning a unit.  At least, that was the intention.  With limited math workshop time, I had difficulty meeting with all of the students. By the middle of the unit, I had usually abandoned the attempt.  With a little more success, I've pre-assessed by giving students a paper and pencil pretest on unit objectives.  To be honest, though, I have not pre-assessed for every unit.

I do a better job with formative assessment. I use my Common Core Math Conference Forms to record observations about individual students. I've also used checklists, observation of students during center work, and mid-unit quizzes to monitor progress. During Guided Math lessons, I take anecdotal notes on a small group math workshop form (included in my Conference Forms pack). My difficulty in this area is time.  I always seem to need more time within each unit than I have to use the information I've gathered in order to help students. 

As far as summative assessment goes, I've mainly used those for grades.  At my previous school, my school administration encouraged grade levels to create common assessments with which to evaluate student progress. In that school, we did analyze the data and use a data wall to discuss the class results with students.  However, once we had the class discussion, the unit was over.  If there were students who still did not have the concept, it was difficult to find time to go back and continue to reteach.  In my current school assignment, our team creates common summative assessments, as well. However, I confess that I did not do much with the results other than grading the assessments and recording the grades.

Question 2 - What  new ideas have you gathered from this chapter? 

This chapter has really made me think about assessment in a new way.  I love several of the ideas in this section and I plan on implementing them this year.


  1. Create a math portfolio for each child. Include assessments that collect evidence about the five elements of mathematical proficiency.
    • Conceptual Understanding: Does the student understand this concept?
    • Procedural Fluency: Can the student do the math? Self-correct?
    • Strategic Competence: Does the student think flexibly about the concept? Does s/he have a variety of effective strategies to use for problem-solving?
    • Adaptive Reasoning: Can the student talk about, explain, ask questions, and defend his/her thinking about the math?
    • Mathematical Disposition: How does the student feel about him/herself as a mathematician? Is s/he confident, reflective, persistent? Does s/he like doing math?
  2. Use a "How Do You Feel About Math" survey at the beginning and end of the year to assess my students' mathematical disposition.
  3. Expand my use of ongoing assessment to include math running records to assess fluency, exit slips to increase opportunities to give feedback, and more one on one math interviews. 
  4. Use performance assessments to have students demonstrate understanding.
  5. Use math data folders to organize information and to have it ready for parent and student conferences.

I already see some of the ways this type of thinking about assessment will improve my teaching and my use of Guided Math instruction.  I can't wait to see what the next chapters bring.

Until next time!

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