“My tickets were trivial–just quick, mostly routine math computation. Now, my tasks focus on problem solving and reasoning.” The Formative 5, page 108

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What a great summer of learning as our book study of The Formative 5: Everyday Assessment Techniques for Every Math Classroom by Skip Fennell, Beth Kobett, and Jonathan Wray comes to a close. Have you had a chance to check out the hashtag #Formative5BookStudy? So much good conversation! If you have not tried Twitter for professional development, this might be a great time to jump in. If you can do Facebook, you can do Twitter.

Reading schedule

Format

  1. Follow the reading guide posted above. Each Monday listed on the schedule, I will publish a post with my thoughts. I’m planning to use the format suggested in the book study guide included at the back of the book (Sharing, Aha!, and Let’s Try!).
  2. Participate by adding a comment to this post or by replying to the comments of others. Your comment will be displayed once approved.
  3. Use the hashtag #Formative5BookStudy to participate in a slow Twitter chat. Search on the hashtag anytime during the week to follow the conversation. I will be posting questions throughout the week, and you can add your thoughts using the same hashtag, as well as the hashtag #Formative5, or just read what others are saying. If you haven’t used Twitter for professional development, this is a great way to start.

Sharing

The authors started by answering a question that many of us were probably wondering–what is the difference between an exit slip or ticket and an exit task? The short answer is that it’s a difference in the cognitive demand of the task. Exit slips and tickets tend to be low-level, computation-based questions, while exit tasks require a higher level of thinking from students. The Mathematics Task Analysis Guide (page 110), examples of task types (page 111-112) , and discussion of DOK levels (page 112) are good reading for experienced and novice teachers alike. I’m planning to put a copy of the Mathematics Task Analysis Guide in my planning notebook, so I can easily put my hands on it during planning.

I found the comments from Claudia and Darshan (pages 114-116) to be very insightful. Claudia shared some of my favorite websites for tasks, and the example of how she revised a district task for her exit task was extremely helpful. On page 116, Darshan recounted how his planning team moved toward more meaningful tasks after the team helped a colleague realize that the tasks she was purchasing from an online website were just “fancy worksheets” and not necessarily aligned to standards or cognitively demanding. With resources so readily available, that’s an important conversation. Thankfully, the chapter provides several resources for evaluating tasks.

Aha!

This book is a book about good mathematical teaching practices disguised as a book about formative assessments. Don’t get me wrong, that is not a criticism. I went all the way back to the Issues and Opportunities chapter to grab this quote:

An important prerequisite to such planning is your own understanding of the mathematical content and pedagogical knowledge related to your grade and beyond. The Formative 5, page 11

In other words, in order for the formative assessment strategies to be most effective, teachers need to deeply understand their standards and the best practices for mathematics instruction. They must also consider the best instructional approach, teacher-centered or student-centered, for creating the type of environment where authentic math tasks and discourse are the norm. If you think of each of the assessment strategies, the process standards/mathematical practices are interwoven all through them. Observations and interviews require students to communicate their mathematical understandings, while  Show Me, hinge questions, and exit tasks typically call on students to use representations to justify their solutions. The mathematical practices are specifically listed on the Exit Task Organizer Tool on page 122. That will be the big shift for some teachers–moving from a teacher-centered, procedure-based type of instruction to one that emphasizes deep conceptual understanding through student-centered instruction.

Let’s Try!

I love the emphasis on team planning and collaboration in developing a bank of exit tasks, because finding and/or creating high quality tasks is a tall order. With everyone working together, it definitely seems more doable. Imagine a well-organized binder filled with completed Organizer Tool sheets (page 122). What a valuable resource!

Your Turn

Share your thoughts and/or observations either below or on Twitter using the hashtags #Formative5BookStudy and #Formative5. Thank you so much to everyone who participated this summer! Remember to use the Twitter hashtag throughout the year to keep in touch and share your Formative 5 journey.

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