This is a response to Damian Watson who asked me on Twitter to share some materials I created to keep track of student progress in math. I will, however, insert some photos, too, because some charts seem confusing without the aid of a visual.
I think it is also helpful to explain the process. (NOTE: These are my grade 2 samples.)
- First, I check the standards (given in the school Math curriculum). They are the big picture of what is expected and it is good to know them. However, they only help so much.
I correlate them with the report card objectives – as shown here Math – standards
- I break down the standards in what I call “big content/ideas“. I make a chart and make copies for each student. Why does this help and when? Well, it gives me an idea of what the student is expected to know/be able to do; also, I can see whether the respective child needs more practice or other ways of approaching a concept to understand it. I color-coded this year (green – able; pink – more practice needed), but next year I might use scores (1-5 scale) – it is up to you.
PDF here – but you have to create your own, based on your own grade-level curriculum. Math – content
See a sample of a student that I completed Math content – Alessandro
- I make charts for each strand (e.g. place value) and include *all* the tasks the children do within that strand. Some might think this approaches madness – I agree. But knowing *exactly* what task the kid had difficulty with enables me to 1) differentiate activity in the future; and 2) to see whether this is a general mistake in my class or just an exceptional case. If I see more than 3 students (out of 20-22) having difficulty with a task then there is something that I need to address – either it is a misconception or the students need more and varied opportunities to approach the concept.
See some samples here (I removed student names and the real scores).
Even within a single math station (for instance, 100 chart) I would have every single task written and notice who had difficulties – in the sample below I would quickly see how many children did how many out of the 10 tasks.
I also make charts following a test. This instant view does make a difference – it alerts you either about particular students or about a particular task.
- I also have charts for daily mental math. I wrote about it here in detail so I will only focus on the progress recording. As explained in the blog, students practice number facts in pairs – they record in their notebooks both the correct and the incorrect answers (see their chart I made – Math – number facts weekly chart), and I ask them about their scores (it takes about 2-3 minutes). I then write their score on my own chart – Math facts – class chart .
I also engage students in more difficult mental math (more operations/or larger numbers) according to different levels – I do this individually so that the students are not pressured in a group/circle to respond (although sometimes they do enjoy competing). Some choose not to move on (marked by —) to higher levels – it is fine to let them try *when* they feel ready.
- Student self-assessment is very beneficial – first, children can track their own progress; second, it gives you an insight into what *they* think they know/still need to improve. As I teach in an IB PYP school, I linked some of the Student Profile elements to math (picture 2).
Some Word documents that I created are here:
The only point that I want to make at the end of this quickly written post:
Tracking progress is time-consuming but critical. How can you teach if you don’t know what your students know?
Too often teachers are confident they “know”what their students are learning. But this is not always the case, and that happens for two reasons.
First, it is easy to slip in own biases and not notice when “good” students make minor mistakes; conversely, you might not notice the little improvement a struggling learner was capable of. Secondly, your memory fails you – it is a universal law. You cannot rely on your memory to remember these differences in progress your students make daily.