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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Lessons from Correcting Tests

I'm reviewing a host of student tests as I prepare to complete Progress Reports. Though reviewing and correcting tests is laborious work, there's so much to learn from the task. I also learned a lot as students took the three assessments I'm reviewing. I'm writing these lessons down as I don't want to lose sight of the learning as I think about next year's teaching program.

So many strong students don't do as well as they could due to organization and precision. In general disorganized, messy work leads to challenge when it comes to precision, and precision suffers when students don't check their copying or calculations. At the start of next year as students review addition and subtraction algorithms with problem solving, I will focus on precision strategies such as the following:
  • How to organize your work on the page. This is often not intuitive for students. I'll give the a group of problems that don't have enough room on the page for good work, then I'll teach students a number of ways to organize their work for accuracy.
  • We'll also review ways to check copying and check calculations. Students can check calculations by calculating in another way, checking their work with the inverse operation, and using estimation. 
  • We'll also spend time at the start of the year focused on how to write a good mathematical explanation that clearly describes mathematical thinking, practice, and solutions with labels and mathematical language. 
The movement from hands-on manipulatives to models to numbers is an essential process when it comes to deep learning. As I assess volume problems, I notice that students who didn't have the chance to manipulatives to learn the concepts were at a disadvantage. Fortunately I was able to order a number of good manipulatives to support this learning next year. Also I noticed that many students got confused with the term "base" with regard to what it means and how to calculate that. We'll focus more on that next year. 

Online Practice
I've also noted that students who take advantage of Khan Academy's multi-focused online practice of the standards, do better on assessments. What's important here is to teach students how to access this information and utilize it well. Similar to other online learning venues, I believe it's important to give a deep, rich, and lengthy introduction--one that essentially immerses a child in that kind of learning for enough time to give them the tools, memory, and understanding to use the tools well in the future. 

Finding the Average
Part of the fifth grade expectations is to find the average of fraction amounts. This is challenging for students who, as far as I know, have not studied finding the average before. To better students' ability to do this, I will integrate finding the average with early year fact review, computation, problem solving and the exploration of even and odd numbers. 

Scaffold Learning Experiences and Provide Plenty of Repetition
A challenge in our curriculum is the number of standards to teach with depth and variability. This makes it tough to provide enough repetition for learners who require a lot of repetition to master the learning. I think greater scaffolding will provide more repetition of the essential, most important aspects of a standard while also allowing students who are ready to go deeper. There will need to be check-in points for the initial skills in order to provide time for and targeted coaching for those students who require it. This will require careful learning design and attention.