Well after our first ‘non test’ assessment task it is time to reflect on what happened and how the boys did.
As mentioned my class is the bottom of five classes. In the first two assessments of the year a few boys out of the 16 in the class were ranked at the bottom of the cohort while the rest were spread between the bottom and lower middle of the cohort. As a group they are not the ‘bottom 16’ of the cohort. They were at the start of the year but have worked hard to improve.
In this task the students were required work though three exercises from the text book to cover the necessary content that would be explored in the task. This was done over three periods and teachers were directed to complete the exercises so all students had been exposed to the same content.
This is the first issue. Obviously some students would not be ready to engage with that level of content and what is done in class is a complete mystery to them. They may connect with some basic content but the three periods are a blur. I know most of my class were not ready for what was in the three exercises so I selected the parts that I thought they could engage with and we looked at the basics around those concepts.
After the three lessons were complete the pre-task was shared with the students. This is in a previous post. The students worked in groups to complete this. They ended up getting two periods in class to work in their groups and then another period working individually on the task. They were then to finish the task in their own time before the assessment.
Second issue: Not enough time was devoted to this process. Most of my class did not bother doing anything with the task outside class time. Having been through and checked out each student’s work it was evident that even allowing for the fact 5 marks were on offer for completing the task they could not get it done. This surprised me a little but given a number struggle with completing homework I should have expected it. Next time I would like to see the Learning Log have a greater value and time weighting. Only a couple of my class responded to the teacher feedback component in the task. I really needed to sit with each group and walk them through the process for the whole task to ensure they completed everything. Overall the work that was presented was quite good and I feel if we had been given more time on this process the work in the assessment task would have been better.
Once the pre task component was completed the assessment task was shared with the students and completed in class. At the end of the period all students had to email a PDF version of their work to their teacher. Generally this was a smooth process although a couple in my class could not get this done and I had to go back into the Teacher Dashboard (Google Apps) to retrieve their work.
There are a few things to improve on but on the whole I think it was a great success and something we can build on across all year groups. Hopefully this is the start of a new way of assessing our students in Mathematics. Tests still have a part to play but a blend of assessment forms enables you to see different types of thinking and gives better feedback into your student’s understanding.
Overall my class performed quite well. As a group they performed as they do in tests with my better students doing well and the strugglers still finding the whole process tough. These are the boys who need one on one support when tackling all assessments. It will be interesting to see how we do compared to the cohort.
A copy of the pre-task can be found below.