Can changing our assessment practices and our approach to learning help them learn to embrace the struggle, to see that a “failure” is an opportunity to learn? Does success breed success? Does success change your confidence, efficacy, and disposition?
Listen to what my learners are telling me.
“I get frustrated when I don’t understand the concept or material. This picture shows you that I hate math because it is obviously not my best subject.”
I want to say that there is nothing in this writing that gives evidence that math is not her best subject, however, I infer that she hates math because she has not experienced success from struggle. Could it be that she has never been given the opportunity? Would a different testing philosophy change her attitude and efficacy?
About our version of 2nd chance tests: Our learners take the test; we mark (not grade) each problem as correct or incorrect, and return the paper to the child without a number-no grade yet. Their job is to find, correct, and identify errors. We ask them to categorize an error as either a “simple mistake” or “needs more study”. We also ask them to complete a table of specification and determine their proficiency on the assessed essential learnings. After all problems are corrected, students write a reflection about their work. Armed with the experiences of teamwork, feedback, and self-assessment, students are given a 2nd Chance test and are tested on only the problems missed during the first testing experience. The final test grade combines the correct work from the first test with the work from the 2nd Chance test.
To answer the most frequently asked question… Yes, it is completely possible to bomb the first test and end up with a 100 in my grade book.
|Math can be a challenge for me because sometimes I feel that I give the effort and it just doesn’t reach the results that I wanted. Like this picture it seems as though I climb towards a better way to understand it and achieve my goals but never reach there. Sometimes I feel that others make it to the top before I do. That can be discouraging, when I am ready and prepared to climb the mountain I feel better about the outcome, whatever it may be. I think that I am good at math just sometimes I need a little bit of encouraging to reach my full potential. I often need help from peers and my teacher to show me easier ways to reach my goals.My job in this class is to participate in class and offer my ideas to help me and my peers to better understand a math problem. My obligation in class is to learn math in new ways to that I can better understand math in a whole and be able to apply it to life. I believe that every day is a learning experience and every day even if I don’t succeed that I am trying towards my goals and get one step closer every time I make a mistake. I think that math is a real challenge for me but if I work hard I can do well this year. I feel that this class is going to beneficial to my learning this year. For my year to be even more successful I need in a class, projects, communication, opportunities to make up grades so that I can learn from my mistakes. What I want is a way to make math more fun and enjoyable.
Goals for Math
“My goals in math are to really understand the problems and not only memorize them but to learn from my mistakes and apply them at the next chance.”
How often do we provide the opportunity for students to learn from their mistakes and apply them? When do they get a next chance? We, the Algebra I team, take a lot of flak from our colleagues and parents about our 2nd Chance Test commitment. This flak comes in many forms, some subtle, some not so subtle. And, most arguments fall apart when we point out that you can take the SAT multiple times and bank your scores. Hmm….
The bottom line is that we have seen positive learning results on our semester exam that we contribute to allowing children to learn from their mulligans.
CM also said
“Math can be a challenge for me because sometimes I feel that I give the effort and it just doesn’t reach the results that I wanted.”
Our grade books are sparse; we have very few grades. We assess quite often; we grade little. We are rewarding effort, but not because you are sweet, try really hard, and/or are compliant. We expect proof that the effort yields results.
In January, we will ask our students for feedback our course and assessment strategies to get a feel for their perception of their learning.