Welcome back! This is part four of my seven-part summer blog series focused on formative assessments. In the first three parts of the series, I gave an overview of formative assessments and I introduced the first two formative assessment techniques that are highlighted in the book, The Formative 5. The first two techniques were observations and interviews. (Missed last week’s post? See it here!)
Today, I want to introduce the third technique. It’s called Show Me—“a performance response by a student or group of students that extends and often deepens what was observed and what might have been asked within an interview” (p. 63). A Show Me response is really an extension or the next layer of our observation or our interview. Designed to be quick, a show me task is really an in-the-moment, stop-and-drop activity where students can communicate their response orally to demonstrate their thinking and show how they solved a problem or used a particular math tool. Then, we take the information that we gain from the Show Me response and use it to help us plan for the next day’s lesson in order to determine where the students are in their thinking and understanding.
How do we get started with a Show Me task? Like observations and interviews, the first thing that we want to do is to plan for it. There are six questions to help guide your planning as you’re thinking about using a Show Me task in your lesson.
- Why might you want to use the Show Me technique?– This is where we want to think about what might trigger us to want to get more information about what a student knows and understands about a skill.
- Where, in your lesson, might a Show Me response be beneficial?– This is where we want to think about if a Show Me request is going to happen right after we introduce a skill or procedure or would it be more towards the end of our lesson?
- How can you organize your classroom to implement Show Me effectively?– This is where we want to plan out and consider how we are going to organize our classroom, i.e. work with a student at his/her desk, pull a student over to a small group area or to a horseshoe table, or take a student into the hallway for more privacy.
- What questions/tasks might you use?– This is where we want to think about the content standard and what task would allow us to gain the most information about what our students know and understand about this particular standard.
- What type of response do you anticipate from your students?– This is where we want to consider how students are going to respond to the task and our questions and what information that’s going to give us.
- How will you follow-up after a Show Me response?– This is where we consider what happens next—we give the task, the student responds, and then we ask more questions, provide an intervention, issue a challenge, etc.
There are many ways to use Show Me tasks in the classroom:
- Gain more information about a written or oral response
- Gather a sampling to investigate a variety of student responses
- Monitor the progress of specific students
- Challenge/extend the learning
- Gather information for planning and/or student interventions
Let’s look at some examples of Show me tasks based on the standard I used in the previous parts of this series. The skill is solving real world problems using the division of fractions. Based on the checklist below that identifies the essential learning targets for this lesson, I’m now going to use some Show Me tasks to follow-up and gain more information about the students’ understanding. I’m going to focus on David, Sharon, and Truman. While the first two students are missing some of the essential learnings, Truman has a check mark for all of the breakouts, so his Show Me task is to challenge him and extend his thinking.
For David’s example, we can see that David is struggling to understand which quantity is the dividend and which quantity is the divisor. In this particular problem, we’re taking the 1/8 of a gallon of root beer and dividing it into four equal parts. David was not able to demonstrate an understanding of how to determine which quantity is the divisor and which quantity is the dividend, so I will need to plan an intervention for David.
For Sharon’s example, we can see that she drew a fraction bar divided into fifths. She then took each fifth and divided it into two equal parts. She colored one of the parts but she was unable to decide how the quotient is represented in her picture. Her illustration shows me that she knows how to represent and solve the problem, but she doesn’t know how to determine the answer from her picture. Sharon may need small group support or one-on-one support to help her study a variety of fraction models and determine what the problem is and how to “see” the solution since it is a visual model.
For Truman’s example, Truman has taken his understanding and he’s drawn three circles. He divided each one of the pizzas into fourths and then labeled them with numbers. From the illustration, we can see that three boys were able to eat three-fourths of a single pizza, but what about the four in the fourth part of each one of the pizza pies? At this point, I ask Truman to explain what the fours signify. His response is that if he puts all three of the pieces together (the 4s), he then has another three-fourths of pizza that another boy can enjoy. His answer that four friends can share the three pizza pies is correct. Even though this problem is beyond the scope of the standard, this task gives me an opportunity to see if Truman can take the understanding that he learned and apply it to a more challenging problem.
Click here for a free download of the Show Me documentation sheet. To use it, record student responses in the boxes.
Depending on how the Show Me task is used and the response that is received, the next step in the Show Me process would be to highlight different solutions that your students had, plan for interventions or different supports for struggling students, or provide differentiated learning, like a challenge task.
Sound Off! How might you use Show Me tasks to formatively assess your students?
Reference: Fennell, F., Kobett, B. M., Wray, J. A. (2017). The formative 5: Everyday assessment techniques for every math classroom. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.