Welcome back! We’re down to the last two weeks of our collaborative book study focused on the book Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler and the last two weeks of Summer PD. Chapter 7 discussed equity and how to group students to promote growth mindsets. (Read Chapter 7’s post here.) Chapter 8 discusses how to assess students in ways that will allow them to develop and maintain a growth mindset.
Chapter 8 Summary
Jo Boaler begins this chapter by discussing the harmful effects of both standardized tests and teacher-created classroom tests. Her discussion then moves to grading and how students who view themselves as the grade that represents their ability level harbor a fixed mindset. In contrast, students who received “diagnostic comments” as assessment feedback instead of a grade have a growth mindset. In the remaining portion of the chapter, Jo Boaler introduces “assessment for learning” and offers strategies to help students identify where they are in the learning process.
My Big Takeaway
A few years ago, I worked for a school district where there was a big push for “assessment for learning” and emphasizing how if differed from “assessment of learning.” The basic difference, assessment for learning helps teachers make decisions about the next steps in instruction and assessment of learning provides teachers with an overall summary of students’ performance. I learned a lot that year and quickly began implementing the new assessment for learning ideas I saw in other classrooms. Needless to say, I was super excited to see this assessment topic included in Mathematical Mindsets. In the chapter, Jo Boaler describes assessment for learning as having three components:
- clear communication about what students have learned
- a way to help students understand where they are on their journey to mastery and where they still need to improve
- information on ways to get from where students are currently to where they need to be to meet success criteria
Ways to Use this New Knowledge to Support Our Students in the Classroom
This chapter offered several strategies that will help students have a better grasp of where they are in the learning process and that will help them develop and maintain a growth mindset. Three of my favorites are highlighted below.
1. Two Stars and a Wish– This is actually a peer assessment strategy. Students review each others’ work and then choose two things that were done well (the stars) and one thing on which to improve. I’ve seen other teachers call this a “Grow and Glow” chart, where the “glow” is the things done well and the “grow” is the area for improvement.
2. Traffic Lighting- This can be done with plastic cups or a triangular prism shaped strip of paper that is folded into three parts. It’s a quick self-assessment strategy where students indicate where they are in the learning process by displaying red, yellow, or green. Red tells the teacher that the student feels more review or a reteach is needed. Yellow tells the teacher that the lesson is moving too quickly and green tells the teacher the student understands and may be ready to move forward. The text suggests one way to enhance the strategy is to ask students with a green cup to explain the skill to someone else. This component allows the student, and the teacher, to better understand where the learning in happening and where more instruction is needed.
3. 3 – 2 -1- This strategy is actually one that I created based on a few others that I’ve seen. At the end of a lesson, students receive an exit ticket with the following headings: “Three things I learned today . . .”, “Two things I want to know more about . . .”, “One thing I wonder or have a question about . . .”. Students complete the exit ticket and the teacher reviews them before the next instructional period to make decisions about what should come next.
Research has shown that changes to assessment, grading, and feedback can make powerful improvements to the way in which our students learn and how they view themselves as learners.
Sound Off! What are your favorite assessment techniques?
- Boaler, J. (2016). Mathematical Mindsets. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass