Pick Three

Over the past few years I’ve transformed how I give quizzes.  The format and what I expect from students has also changed.  I’m finding that students are expected to explain their reasoning more frequently.  They’re also asked to showcase multiple strategies when solving complex math problems.  This shift has caused my own formative quizzes to change.  It’s also led to some great discussions with my teaching team as we design assignments.

I give quizzes throughout each math unit.  These “review checkpoints” are used to assess where each student is in relation to a particular math standard.  The checkpoints indicate whether students are meeting the standard and if they need additional support or enrichment.  Students also understand that they can make a second attempt if needed.  One things that I’ve done differently this year is to give more choice with these quizzes.  The objective is still the same, but students have an opportunity to have a choice in what problems or response to to complete.

So what does this look like?  In the past I’d give students a worksheet or half-sheet and have them complete it as a quiz.  This year I’ve expanded student choice with my quiz format.  Students are still given a sheet, but I give them a few options.  I tell the students that they can pick 3 out of the 10 problems to complete.  At the beginning of the year students weren’t exactly sure what do with that directive.  They first started to look for the easiest problems that they could find.  I feel like their attitudes have changed over the school year.  Now, students look at each problem and pick a problem that they feel comfortable addressing.  I feel like this is due in part partially because students are aware that they can retake the quiz.  That aspect loosens up some anxiety and helps some students approach more challenging problem.  I’ve also noticed that students have performed better using this technique.

Ideally, I’d like to offer more student choice in the classroom when it comes to being able to show mastery.  I feel like this is one small step in moving towards that goal.

Author: Matt Coaty

I've taught elementary students for the past 14 years. I enjoy reading educational research and learning from my PLN. Words on this blog are my own.

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