This past week my third grade class took their third unit assessment. This particular unit focused on computation of single-digit numbers, data analysis and order of operation procedures. While grading the assessments I started to identify a few patterns in the student responses. Specific problems were missed more often than others. This isn’t an anomaly on assessments, but these particular problems stood out. One skill area that seemed to jump out to me dealt with the skills of being able to identify the median, mode and range of a set of data. These skills were introduced during the first few weeks of school and the class hasn’t revisited them in some time. Also, I found that students were having trouble identifying the differences between factors and multiples. Some of the student responses mixed up the terms while others seemed like guesses. Both of these skill are necessary moving forward as the third grade class explores prime and composite numbers next. A colleague and I and came up with a limited list of reasons why we thought the problems were missed.

1.) Students aren’t yet able to apply their understanding of the skill

2.) The question on the test was confusing

3.) Students made a simple mistake

Optimistically, I’d like to say that most of the mistakes fall into category two or three. I don’t think this was the case with this particular assessment. After looking over the class results I concluded that most students that missed skill-associated problems fell into category one. In addition to not grasping a full understanding, I felt like students were not given enough time to practice the newly learned concepts.

I believe students should be given additional opportunities to show understanding. Coming from that thought line, I decided to have students reflect on their assessment results in their math journal. I’ve done this in the past but I wanted to also include an addition to the process.

After completing the page above students reflected on their performance in relation to the expectation. Students were then given a list of four problems. The problems were similar to the most missed skills on the assessment. Students were asked to pick three of the problems to complete. Students were encouraged to pick skills that were missed or topics that they felt needed strengthening.

After both sheets were completed, students brought their math journals up to me and we had a brief 1:1 conference. This time is so valuable. The student and I identified skill areas that showcased strengths and areas that needed strengthening. We then reviewed the responses to the questions on the reflection sheet. I spent around 2-3 minutes with each student.

Students were then asked to work independently on another assignment that I planned for the day. Overall, I thought this reflection process has helped students become self-assessors. Students have a better understanding of their own skill level in relation to the expectation. I plan on using this strategy a bit more as the year progresses.

Why were you doing basic stats with the 3rd grade? That seems out of sequence.

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The particular class is an advanced math class at my school.

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