After blogging about ** Mia’s great strategy** for checking her multiplication problem, several people asked me about the Portrait I referenced in that blog post. Of course I’m happy to share what we’re doing!

Let me give you some background. I taught 5^{th} grade for many years before stepping into the coaching role. Every year, I had kiddos come to me who could not subtract with regrouping, let alone multiply or divide! And I’m not talking 1 or 2 students, I’m talking many. So along with teaching my grade level skills, I had to spend significant time remediating skills from previous grade levels. Here’s my theory about why that happens. We typically teach our computation units early in the year. In our district, grades 3-5 are finished with their computation units by winter break. Some kiddos get it, and some don’t. But we move on in the curriculum and don’t remediate what they didn’t get. That happens every year, so it’s a snowball effect that becomes a full-blown avalanche by 5^{th} grade. And it’s not because teachers don’t have the best intentions. They most certainly do! But they also have a million and one thing on their plates.

^{rd}graders take the 2

^{nd}grade EOY test at the beginning of 3

^{rd}grade to give the 3

^{rd}grade teachers an idea of the students’ skills.

**here**for the files containing the Portrait assessment and tracking sheets. Keep in mind that these are aligned to the Texas TEKS, so the skills might be slightly different for common core. I uploaded them in editable form, so you can modify them to make them work for you. For grade 2-5, there are two forms–one for the assessment and a second one teachers can use to enter student names and keep track of which students need remediation on each skill. Kinder and 1st were new this year. We worked as a vertical team to determine what their Portrait would look like. We decided that the main skill the kiddos need coming out of Kinder and 1st was knowing the combinations for ten, so that is their Portrait. They use their tracking sheet all year long to determine each child’s “number”, meaning what is the largest number each student knows all the combinations for.

Karen Ganon says

Thank you for this post. A great idea, and I downloaded it with gratitude!

Donna Boucher says

Glad it was useful to you, Karen!

Kirsten Silverman says

Amazing! We just started creating the same thing for our district…same format and everything!

Donna Boucher says

I think this is probably a universal need, Kirsten!

Katie Orr says

Thanks for this post…… I will most definitely share it with the math teachers in my building. 🙂

Katie

Mind Sparks

Donna Boucher says

Thanks for sharing, Katie!

TheElementary MathManiac says

Remediation is so important! It makes such a difference for kids (and their teachers!) I love how you use data and teaming to make instruction better for all students! Thanks for sharing!

Tara

The Math Maniac

Donna Boucher says

My pleasure, Tara. It definitely took a village!

Chrissy says

Thank you for sharing! It’s so interesting to read about different assessments. I’m printing the 1st grade one. It will be very helpful in deciding who needs more intervention.

Chrissy

First Grade Found MeDonna Boucher says

This is definitely just one small piece of the mathematical pie, but computation is so important. Sometimes we focus so much on problem solving (which is super important–don’t get me wrong), but we forget how important computational skills are.

MissPetzold says

As we begin planning curriculum for next year I am excited to share this with my teaching team and the entire staff. Thank you for making it so accessible!

Donna Boucher says

I’m so glad you think it’s something you might use!

Rene says

Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been researching math difficulties, in particular number sense, for about four years now. By “researching” I mean, reading every peer reviewed article I can get my hands on, implementing informal action research, and keeping data to see where our teaching breaks down. I believe you are absolutely on the right track with multiple assessments COUPLED WITH REMEDIATION. My masters is in Mind, Brain and Education and if there is one thing I’ve learned about how our brains learn is that learning is fragile. What I believe happens is that we assess students before their learning is “crystalized” – or fluent. So, we assess, we think they have it, and we move on…but that knowledge wasn’t solid or we taught a procedure without a student understanding underlying concepts. BUT…even KNOWING and planning for this, I still find, to my surprise, students that I believed “had it” and when I assess them a few weeks later, I am shocked. This speaks to the need for ongoing formative assessment AND changing the way we teach math to be more aligned with the way we teach reading: phonemic awareness=number sensed; decoding=decomposing; fluency=rapid recall of facts/compositions; leveled reading & guided reading groups=remediate or advance based on individual, student progress NOT whole group; comprehension=understanding=combination of all of the above with students showing they can explain strategies as well as create problems in various ways using various methods. This HAS to occur prior to 3rd grade. Think about it, beginning in 3rd grade is when we really expect students to read for meaning verses learning to read. All the number sense skills students need to have mastered need to occur by the end of 2nd grade. If these are in place, then deeper more complicated mathematical ideas can be taught WITHOUT going back to the scaffolds that should have been there. It will require a change of pedagogy and a shift in philosophy of the way we teach and assess math.

Donna Boucher says

Excellent analysis, Rene! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Rene says

PS — follow up…yes, I saw my typos! Yikes…BUT…I want to add my appreciation because I forgot to say that part of my research, a large part, came from reading your blog, using your “products” and reading the books on your “Books I Love” list. I can’t recommend these highly enough. Yet, just like students’ “fragile” learning…knowing all of this did not guarantee student success; as you clearly illustrate by sharing that even with all your collective knowledge, it still took ongoing formative assessment and teachers coming together to look at data to get to the root of the problem (or at least one root). THANKS for your guidance to me along the way!

Donna Boucher says

Thank you for your kind words, Rene! The more we share, the better teachers we all become!

Teboteach says

I also like the Portrait of a Maverick Mathematician ideas, esp the brief snapshot assessments 2-5. I see the assessments themselves, but not the sheet for student names, tracking and remediation as there is for K and 1. Do you just modify one of those, or is there a sheet for 2-5 also? Thanks for all you do for teachers and learners, Donna!

Donna Boucher says

I actually have updated the tracking sheets for 2-5, and I’m going to be posting an update in the next couple of days!!

Teboteach says

Sounds great. BTW, I love what you are getting to do next year! It would be a dream job. And you will be great at it.

Fontenot's Firebreathers says

I used these at the end of the year with my students and my plan is to give them to the 5th grade teachers at the beginning of the year. That way they can see where they were at the end of the year last year. I am using them the first week of school on my new kids to see where they are. Then in January to show how they have improved. We will set goals at beginning and middle of year and then review at the end of the year to see where we are! It would be powerful to send with the students to 5th grade. We have a transient population, so I know it won’t be perfect, but I love it!

Donna Boucher says

You will be amazed at the results! I love the idea of having the students set goals.