Thursday, 18 February 2016

Summatives that Celebrate Learning & Have Real Meaning (ie not stupid tests!)

Anyone who has read my blog would know I am not a fan of summative assessments unless the data collected from them will actually be used to inform teaching and learning.

Too often the traditional maths test (and quite frankly they should be called tests instead of assessments) are completely inadequate for enquiry-based classrooms.

Instead, I have children reflect during the unit on what they have discovered about our central idea.  This provides many benefits such as:

° it allows each child to enquire into their own wonderings without being tested on things they may not have wanted to explore and therefore may not know

° it caters to individualised learning (differentiation)

° the child reflecting on their enquiries and therefore deepening their learning

° the child is constantly going back to the deep conceptual understanding of the central idea

° the child gaining perspective on their own learning growth throughout the learning process

° the child being able to celebrate and take pride in their learning achievements

° the child made to feel like a successful mathematician

° the child free to learn at their own developmental pace

° when sharing their reflection summative with parents, it is not a negative dialogue of what answers they got wrong. Instead it is geared to a positive dialogue of look what I discovered and how my learning has grown

At the end of our maths unit, the children then complete a simple reflection such as the sample below:

Another sample:

The children use the following to reflect on their learning.
I always find it fascinating to read their 'I used to think......Now I know......' responses to see what really stood out the most in each child's mind. 

To tap into the PYP Learner Profile & Attitudes, the children self-reflect using the rubric.  Sometimes I use the rubric to give them feedback, for this maths assessment I gave them written feedback instead (See samples below)


Happy, proud children instead of those awful negative traditional maths tests that generally just deflate each child's thinking and learning. :)

Sample feedback:

Central Idea: When angles co-exist, connections and relationships form.

XXX, you should be very proud of what you achieved in our unit. You were able to independently discover some amazing connections amongst angles and showed what a curious and successful mathematician you are. It was really wonderful to see you understanding that mathematical thinking is playing. We play with numbers to find interesting patterns, connections or relationships. You showed this a lot during our unit and it allowed you to become more curious, creative and successful with your investigations.

You always made very good use of your learning time and showed strong collaboration skills with your learning partners. During our unit you also showed a strong development of intrinsic motivation towards your own maths learning. You didn’t need me to inspire you or encourage you to enquire into our central idea. You wanted to do that yourself and because of that, I think, it is why you feel so proud of what you discovered and rightly so! You know how to make responsible choices of who your learning partners will be and they are great choices as  both you and they collaborate very effectively.

You didn’t show as much of your understanding of our central idea as you normally do in our maths summative XXX. Remember that when we do these reflections, we are showing everything we understand about our central idea. This helps us to deepen our understanding of the conceptual big picture.  You did show some very interesting understandings and your investigation into the patterns of interior and exterior angles in polygons was very exciting to you so I can understand why your summative is mostly about that.  But, in future, do include all the little and big aspects you understand. This will help you as a mathematician to make more connections and deepen your thinking.

You conducted some fabulous maths investigations and discoveries about angles XXX and you certainly showed you learnt a lot! J

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