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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Assessment for Learning in Circle Geometry

I have been "dipping my toes" into the assessment for learning stream. The last couple of weeks we have been studying circle geometry in my Applied Math 20 class. The students ALWAYS struggle with this unit. It stretches their minds and really makes them use their problem solving skills. Needless to say, the students do not "like" this unit. It is hard!!!

Every semester I give a two page assignment with about 15 different circle geometry problems. In the past, I have taken this assignment in, marked it and returned it to the students. While this method gave me another mark for my mark book it really did not HELP the students to learn to solve circle geometry problems any better.

So, today, I switched things up. I gave the same assignment. However, I explained to the students that I was not taking this assignment in for marks. I explained that I wanted them to learn to solve circle geometry problems better. I asked them to solve problem #1 then bring it too me and I would mark it and discuss it with them. Then go on to problem #2 and do the same. You would have thought that the students would have grumbled that they were doing an assignment for no marks. Not one single complaint.

In this class we have had a number of discussions about how all of the work in a unit is to help them learn the material. They get the "marks" when they write their unit exam at the end of the unit. The more questions they ask and the more learning they do during the unit the better they will do on the end of unit exam.

I am struggling with the fact that I have less marks in my mark book. However, I really like the fact that my students are learning and understanding mathematics better.

Stay tuned for more adventures of the Transformed Educator!!!

1 comment:

  1. hi there!
    I just stumbled across your blog and it fascinated me for a couple of reasons.....
    First "assessment FOR learning"- something I've been trying to implement, struggling with, questioning, loving, hating, and everything else.
    Second, Your struggles are the same as mine- fewer grades in the book and "will they do it if it doesn't count?". Let me encourage you though- they will have fewer grades, but those grades will be meaningful. You want a grade to reflect what a student knows, not necessarily the number of mistakes he or she made getting there (I view an assignment like yours as practice in getting better, not a true reflection of where the student is in terms of knowledge at the end of the unit). So pat yourself on the back- you used an awesome assignment (I have a soft spot for circles!) as a formative assessment and you and the students both got immediate feedback as to where they were in their learning. Keep it up!