Some of my biggest experiments have been with assessment. It started with an SBG adoption in Pre-Cal and Algebra 2 seven years ago and it really changed the way I view assessing students. Scores out of 100 are silly and arbitrary, so I don’t bother. These days Calculus takes assessments that are segmented by a particular topic, usually integrating a variety of skills into a short set of questions. Normally when you have an assessment, tradition says you should review.

Long ago before SBG I would write up reviews that students would complete the day before an assessment, you’ve probably done the same. In practice creating a review is almost as much work as writing the assessment. I quit doing stand alone reviews years ago because I think they send a signal that classwork isn’t as important, this review is all you should care about. I want students to be diligent about completing classwork and seeing its purpose, so I’ve designed my “review” around that idea.

Both flavors of Calculus are taking an assessment today, here was their “review:”

I put the list on the screen and kids can take a picture. That’s it. We spend zero class time on this because everything on the list is represented in some piece of classwork we did in the days before. Students who were diligent about organizing their classwork should be able to find anything. The only thing that takes time is if a student has a question about what I mean by a topic. For example, they may want to clarify what I mean by “factor a polynomial into a sketch-able equation.”

I’ve found the practice effective. Previously students have said I’m too vague about what might be on an assessment, so they can’t focus their time. In fact, I’ve been too vague because usually the assessment isn’t written until later. I think these simple lists give them the focus they want without spending a ton of time on a purpose-built review. More importantly, it helps me focus when writing the assessment, to make sure I stick with whatever ideas I had when writing this list. I am incredibly bad about changing my mind constantly about approaching things. This has brought some much needed focus to my work as well.

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AuthorJonathan Claydon