July 28, 2013

Ch. 8: Assessment in Guided Math

Hi friends! Tara, again, from Teaching with TWitte. I am here to share my thoughts on Guided Math chapter 8: Assessment in Guided Math.

The chapter begins with the explanation that assessment should drive instruction. As a teacher, you are constantly assessing your students' learning in order to tailor the instruction to what best suits your students' needs. It is explained that, in education, there is a difference between assessment and evaluation. Assessment, again, is the formal or informal assessment of student work in order to determine their needs. Evaluation, on the other hand, is typically a high-stakes, standardized-type evaluation of work to gauge students' overall knowledge.

Rationales for Assessment and Evaluation
Fountas and Pinnell's list of rationales for systematic references are referenced in the chapter as follows:

* continually informing teaching decisions
* systematically assessing students' strengths and knowledge
* finding out what students can do, both independently and with teacher support
* documenting progress for parents and students
* summarizing achievement and learning over a given period
* reporting to administrators, school-board members, and various stakeholders in the community

Assessment and Learning in Guided Math
In order to successfully plan and manage guided math teachers must accumulate, summarize, analyze, and report results effectively.

A Vision for Learning
Not only do teachers need to fully understand the standards they are teaching in a given lesson or unit of study, and how to present the effectively, but students, as well, need to understand what their learning outcome will be and how it will look.

There are three steps for teachers in the process of linking descriptions of expectations in instruction:

1. Describe what students need to learn in a language that the students and their parents will understand.

2. Share the description with students and explain the importance of it both in school and outside of school.

3. Use the description to guided instruction, assessment, and evaluation.

Establish Criteria for Success with Checklists and Rubrics
With the newer content-driven instruction, teachers are needing to determine their own means of assessment. In order to assess student learning, teachers must use the standards to determine their expectations for their students. In order to assess and record, checklists and rubrics will be used fittingly.

Using Checklists
Checklists tend to be rather vague, listing whether students have met or not met with given standards. When using a checklist, it is important to list specific criteria and to discuss with students, why they did not meet with a specific standard, in order to improve their learning.

Using Rubrics
Rubrics are much more specific, grading the quality of work and learning, based on specific areas of development. Rubrics are most effective when they are created with student input. Students are able to see exactly where they need to improve, or have improved, when seeing their grade based on a rubric with specific criteria. Rubrics are typically most successful when they are used over the course of several projects or units, so that students are able to become comfortable with them. When using a rubric, it should be presented before students begin their work so that they are aware of their expectations.

The Value of Descriptive Feedback
Descriptive feedback:
* comes during and after the learning
* is easily understood
* is related directly to the learning
* is specific, so performance can improve
* involves choice on the part of the learner as to the type of feedback and how to receive it
* is part of an ongoing conversation about learning
* is in comparison to models, exemplars, samples, or descriptors
* is about the performance or the work - not the person

Feedback should be:
* corrective in nature
* timely
* specific to criteria
* specifically provided by the students themselves

Involving Students in the Assessment Process
Simply grading a student's work sample, does not give a teacher the whole picture of their learning. Students should be involved in the learning assessment process in order to allow the teacher a more complete picture of their understanding. When students are involved in the assessment process, they tend to take more ownership of their learning.

Assessments for Guided Math Groups
It is said this chapter, that as in guided reading, guided math instruction should be provided at the students' instructional level. Instruction should not be too easy, where students are doing everything independently; or too difficult, where students are not able to keep up with and understand what is being taught. The teaching in a guided math group should be a little above the students' understanding, meaning the learning is being guided by the teacher, but at a level that is within reach of that group of students. These groups should be flexible and able to be changed when students instructional levels change.


1. What types of assessments do you use in your classroom?

2. How can you improve your use of assessments in the classroom?

3. How will you increase student involvement in the assessment process?

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