Monthly Archives: November 2019

1 Comment

After leaving our second F2F I left feeling completely motivated and excited about what I was going to research, it hit the mark for our school's focus and was something I think will absolutely help my students and is related to the feedback they gave me. But now I feel like I'm staring up at this big tall wall and I'm a bit nervous to start picking it up.

My question is "How might we shift teaching methods in math towards differentiation and risk-taking to encourage student buy-in and creativity?"

My question in itself is something that could be used to simply innovate my classroom, but I feel it's something I should push through our whole Middle School. After looking through the feedback from our Middle School students, and discussions with our High School teachers I know that risk-taking in math is something that's severely lacking. We have great content in our lessons, but not much opportunity for differentiation and making mistakes.

After looking through the resources and feedback from my peers I've been so excited to go through the suggestions and connect with the people that were recommended.

What I would like to do is not reinventing the wheel, and it's not groundbreaking, but it's new to me and new to our Middle School. I feel that this is the stage in my research where I will really have to force myself to write and blog, because as our coaches said at the F2F, your perspective and ideas could be exactly what someone else needs to hear. There are a lot of amazing math teachers out there that are already doing this and I'm excited to learn how to do what they are doing.

To that end here is my plan so far explained with stick figures

First I'll be looking through our next math unit and finding or designing an open-ended task, then with my students we will co-construct a rubric of what en excellent math response looks like. Through this I'm hoping to encourage students to realize that I am interested more in the process of problem solving and critical thinking and not the answer. I'm also hoping that since they are a part of the process of designing the rubric they will have more buy-in and be more aware of what they are being asked to do.

After they complete the task I will assess and write feedback on the rubric, we will then sit down and conference about how they did. During that conference we will decide together how the student did and what to work on moving forward.

From there I will then conference with the class and ask about how they felt this went. Did it help them feel more confident in taking risks to solve the problems? Did it help them build interest in the math itself? Were my strong kids as engaged as my students that consider themselves bad at math?

I also think this will be almost another starting point for me and I know I should slow down but all I can think of is the snowball effect of my question and how it will spurn on more questions and more ideas. Is anyone else finding this?

I look forward to sharing more and hearing more from everyone in the Cedar group.

@edaigle @lmitchell @mbrims @jbairos







So a few weeks ago a coworker of mine who teaches the same classes as me went to the assessment summit at HTS and came back guns blazing with some amazing tools and ideas, and the first thing she did was sit down with me and go over her favourite strategy.

She went over a really lovely way to collaboratively create a rubric with the class to use with assessment and after doing it a few times I thought I would share the steps as well and reflect on it with you.


Have your students get into pairs and pass out some post-its. Then ask the students to consider what makes an excellent BLANK. For me it was 'What makes an excellent lab report?' The students then reflected on it and discuss with their partner. Then they are asked to take two post-its and on each one put a sentence describing something specific about what an excellent BLANK has. After that they are asked to put these post-its up on a board with everyone else's.


Have one member of each pairing come up and sort the post-its into groups. Students come up and discuss and work together to organize their ideas into groups.


After the partner has gone back to their seat the otherĀ partner now has a chance to go up and look over the groups that were made. They also get to move any post-its they think do not work. When they are done they can go back to their seats.


Now you go up and read over each group and as a class you name the category of each group that has been made. If you want to take it a step further you can also discuss with the class whether this category fits as Knowledge, Thinking, Application or Communication and see what they think.


You take their groups and content and put it into a rubric, using their own words and categories and organize it into a single point rubric. When you are done show it to the class and discuss if there is anything they may want to change or wording they don't like.


Where I went from there....

After having my students design this rubric, I went through their reports and wrote feedback and comments on the rubric as well as in their report. I assessed it and had their mark written down separately. I then conferenced with them and had them also use the rubric and my feedback to assess themselves. The results were that the students were either totally on the ball or harder on themselves than I was. When they first started it was such an interesting discussion to have and to watch them really look at their work and assess it. I could see they understood where the mark came from and we could clearly discuss what to work on moving forward. They also focused much less on the grade itself.

Which leads me to this morning, I was just finishing up marking a second round of lab reports. Yesterday I had informed my students that this time we would be deciding their grade together instead of separately like last time. I had expected panic but instead I got calm smiles and excitement. This was no longer something scary looming over them or me. I was not thinking about the percentage mark and I don't think they were too. I was also thrilled at how fast the shift happened. A lot of this is in part to the fact that the whole grade 7 team has now been implementing this in each class so the students are much more familiar with it across the board. On top of that I have a math assessment coming up and I'm so excited to create a math rubric with my students and to see how they do. This is exactly the kind of thing I want to work on in Cohort 21 and the results and reflections I see from my students are so meaningful and exciting for me as an educator.

When my students make this new math rubric I'll be sure to share it! I'm really excited to see what they do next.