What Students Know

How will you know what students know?


6 Responses to What Students Know

  1. mshelft says:

    What I’m thinking a lot about is pre-assessment, particularly in math. What kinds of skills should I test for or assess for before a unit, both mathematical and preferential?

  2. Karl Mason says:

    Brainstorms in groups are wonderful for this, also speak to the kids, see what the already know, get some peer mentoring going on.

  3. Debbie says:

    I believe that acknowledging what students already know is vital for motivation and engagement.

    Using a diagram, image or collection of images is a good way of facilitating discussion. Putting ten key words in to a wordsearch on the board and playing boys vs girls is another I like to use at the start (and end) of topics.

    I also tend to use the “think-pair-share” strategy rather than whole class discussion (where the kids tend to sit in silence keeping mum). For example, I’ll start with giving the class 60 seconds to think in silence and jot down everything they already know about “quadrilaterals” then another 60 seconds to discuss in their pairs and a final 60 seconds to join up with another pair for 60 seconds. This way everyone gets a chance to reflect and talk and finally the responsibility is shared, so you can ask Tom what his group already knew.

  4. Karl Mason says:

    Yeah, ‘think-pair-square-share’ is a good one, as is keyword tennis, and volleyball.

  5. Kevin Lade says:

    As a teacher who uses SBG I have a 4-point rubric for each objective in my class. So, on day 1 of a new unit I provide students with the rubric or rubrics that describe their goals for that unit. This also provides an opportunity for students to discuss the concepts and examples given in those rubrics, to identify what they already know, or to begin connecting this new information with what they’ve already learned. This can be done in pairs as others have mentioned, or groups, and definitely is shared as a whole class. This activity launches the new unit, accesses prior knowledge, and serves to clarify the expectations for earning an A or B or whatever grade for the objectives.

    I’ve never had much success giving pre-tests–it always seems that the students have forgotten what I expect them to recall from last year (which is frustrating) or so many students do poorly that I have to teach the “whole thing” anyway. And, what if a few students show they do know the material–am I really prepared to offer them a significantly different learning opportunity while the rest of the class is learning something else? I do work to differentiate instruction, but it comes more thru the score levels of my rubrics and instructional techniques such as giving parallel tasks or open questions. I’m sure that not all teachers’ situations are the same, but for me it just doesn’t seem worth it to spend time on a traditional-looking pre-test of some skill or concept. If many students fail, it just reinforces their damaging belief that they aren’t good at math. Why create an opportunity for that? The discussion of the content of the rubrics seems a much more positive approach for acknowledging prior understanding and mental connection-making (which as a previous poster stated is definitely essential for motivation and engagement).

  6. samjshah says:

    Although I didn’t do this a lot (sometimes twice in a week, sometimes once a month), I tried to use exit slips. I emphasized that they weren’t for me to grade or judge them. They help me know what I need to do in the next class…


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