Saturday, January 28, 2012

Formative Assessment- In Class √ups

In my classroom I use a formative assessment technique that I call "In Class √ups".  I typically use this technique on a day we are reviewing material before a quiz.  The day before the quiz the assignment is often a practice and application review worksheet that goes over the concepts that will be assessed on the quiz the following day.

I will give students 5 or 6 review problems that match up to what they will be doing on the review worksheet as well as the quiz.  A key to making this manageable for me, is that students MUST write their answers on the left side of their notebook in order.  I always put a sample on the SMARTBoard of how their notebook page should look.   They show the work off to the side of the paper.  This makes it easy for me to scan their paper in a matter of seconds to see if they answers are correct (this is imperative as I can have close to 10 students in line at a time sometimes).  I also make sure that they actually did the work and not just copied from someone else.

As students finish the In Class √ problems they come to me to my desk (or often I sit at the front table because there is more open space) and I will circle the number of the problem if it is wrong.  If all problems are correct I will put a star or a smiley face on their paper and then hand them the worksheet for homework.  You would be surprised (well maybe not if you teach middle school) how motivated they get by a smiley face or star!

I recently purchased a package of Mr. Sketch markers (the smelly ones) and cannot believe how excited they are to see what color/scent we are using that day.

It is a lot more work for me to do the In Class √s because I have to correct 27-29 students papers, answer questions, recorrect the ones they get wrong, and try to keep everyone on task while doing all of this.  The nice thing is that if I have a line of students waiting to correct students who have been OKd will often volunteer to help others or answer questions.  I give them a WW slip (our school incentive) for helping others.

The days we do In Class √ ups end up being pretty chaotic, but that way I know before every student  leaves for the day, whether or not they have a grasp on what I will be assessing the following day.  This is a great method of formative assessment for me to get a pulse on what every child in my class knows or still struggles with.  If a student is really having problems I will work through a sample problem with them or actually do the √up problem with them.

I have to be careful to keep track of who still does not have their worksheet because some students would try to fly under the radar and never come to my desk and just expect to get a worksheet as the bell rings.  I have solved this by calling up my reluctant or slow workers for progress checks throughout the class so they do not get lost in the shuffle.

They do not get their worksheet for homework until their √up problems are all OKd.  I find this technique to be so helpful for me to differentiate and know who needs to come during CP or HB for additional help.

Students are held accountable to be using their class time wisely and asking either myself or someone at their table for help if they don't understand something.  I always make them check their note sheet before I answer a question if they act like they have no clue what they are doing.  Note sheets have sample problems and break things down step by step for them.  I am trying to encourage them to take responsibility for their learning.  This personal responsibility is such a huge thing I try and instill in them as middle school is the bridge for them from elementary to high school.


  1. I need to be better about doing assessments like these in my classroom! Thanks for sharing how you do yours-- I will have to try something similar for the next test I give. Out of curiousity, what do your note sheets look like? I have been trying a bunch of different things, but since I am the only math teacher in my tiny school, I don't have anyone to bounce ideas off of!
    To The Square Inch
    PS Mr. Sketch markers are SO motivating to my kids also hahaha

  2. Chaos that works is so definitely worth it! Thanks so much for sharing! I have a couple of similar things that I do...but now I'm going to put names on the homework sheet in advance so I can keep track of who is trying to lay low. Now...where to find some Mr. Sketch markers?!? :)
    Mrs. Tilmon Says…


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