Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Deepen Math Education: Performance Tasks

This year the teaching team is designing and utilizing performance tasks with greater intention. The performance task is an investigation-like, deeper, meaningful math activity that students work on with a partner to apply math skills, concepts, and knowledge. I just reviewed students' completed work on the first performance task, and I noticed a lot that worked well and lots to revise too.

What worked?
  • Students were engaged in the task.
  • All educators on our team were involved in guiding and supporting student efforts.
  • Children who profit from small groups and specialist attention received that help.
  • The task gave students time to dig into math concepts with greater depth and some good productive struggle.
  • Rubrics guided students' efforts
  • Students' self-assessed their work and work habits
What could be better?
  • It's very difficult to find the time to review deep student work when you are working with lots of students at the same time--good review of these tasks takes considerable time. Better design of the rubrics, task format, and flow will help to make review of the work more targeted and efficient.
  • Making the tasks meaningful, relevant, and timely is important when it comes to optimizing student engagement. 
  • Looking closely at the students who struggle with the tasks the most, and figuring out how to provide those students with more targeted support for these tasks and other learning events.
Students will reflect on this first performance task next week as they prepare for their fall parent-student-teacher conferences. They'll also have a chance to review their work and in some cases complete that work, then they'll place the task outcome in their portfolio to share with family members.

Math is taught in a large number of ways at our school. Children collaborate around learning tasks, engage in investigations and problem solving, complete practice exercises, watch videos, interact in whole group lessons, play games online and off, and take assessments

As I think of the many papers I reviewed tonight, the next steps include the following:
  • Continue the weekly home practice exercises with an emphasis on vocabulary review and the inclusion of videos that students can watch as many times as they would like to learn that math vocabulary so they are able to apply the concepts better.
  • Work with colleagues to best design the performance tasks to elicit deep mathematical thinking, problem solving, and memorable learning.
  • Continue to teach using a varied daily approach that personalizes the learning when needed to support individual learners. 
  • Look carefully at students who are not achieving as well with colleagues and think about how to change the teaching/learning program to serve those students better.