Math Formative Assessment Ideas

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  • 0:04 Formative Assessment in Math
  • 0:50 Whole Class Activities
  • 2:58 Individual Formative…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 15 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Because math lends itself to summative assessment, it can be difficult to conduct formative assessment. This lesson offers some math formative assessment ideas for all ages.

Formative Assessment in Math

Math is a very concrete subject. The answer is either right or wrong. How can you conduct formative assessment, or an assessment that is designed to track progress and not document knowledge gained, with such objective material?

This lesson offers ideas for formative assessment activities and strategies to help you track your students' progress and understanding of the concepts you are teaching. Remember to keep all activities casual to decrease any testing anxiety confounding factors in your observations. Students should feel relaxed and, as much as possible, as if they are not even being assessed. These activities and strategies are designed to be easily adapted to all ages.

Whole Class Activities

Allowing students to participate in group activities is a good way to put them at ease and get them to naturally interact with the learning process. These formative assessment strategies all include group or class-wide engagement.

Application

A great way to assess understanding of mathematical concepts involves observing students using the information in real-world applications. Set up a scenario where your students can practice the concepts you have been teaching, such as a mock store to assess money concepts or map making to assess coordinate plane concepts. Observe your students as they work through the real-world activities. Note students who seem to be having trouble or seem to intentionally avoid participation.

Test Your Teammate

One way to demonstrate that you know something is to design a test or homework for someone else. You have to have a deep understanding of the concepts to be able to correctly create questions and an answer key for any mathematical worksheet. This formative assessment activity allows students to get into the mind of a teacher to design and implement a written assessment for another student. Ask students to swap papers and then complete the assignments as homework. The next day, they can swap back and grade each other's work. Finally, have them discuss with their partners what worked and what didn't work with the assignments they created.

Game Show Alley

Split your class into teams and create a game show out of the concepts to casually engage your students in the learning process. You will notice that some students are actively motivated to answer questions for their team, while others seem to hold back. You may find that those students who are less active in the game are having difficulty with the concepts. Remember that just because a student doesn't answer any questions doesn't mean they don't know the answers. Observe your students carefully for those tell-tale signs of students who just don't know how to answer the questions. This will give you a better idea of who is grasping the material and who is not, thus allowing you to alter your teaching strategy to reach any students who may need more support.

Individual Formative Assessment Tasks

Group activities are fun, but individual activities can really help you pinpoint students who need extra help. These formative assessment tasks require students to work on their own.

Journal It

It might seem strange, but a journal could help your students understand their own learning process and be able to identify their own areas of struggle. Ask students to maintain a journal of each new concept. You may need to prompt students to write in their journals during the learning session. Students should answer questions such as: Am I finding anything particularly challenging in this unit? If so, what is challenging? Do I feel that I have mastered this concept? What more would I like to know about this concept?

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