Miss. Hillary Strain

Letter to a friend

Hey Lauren!

I recently watched two short films about assessment in a mathematics high school classroom and thought that you might be interested in watching them.  I included the links to the videos in the letter but I thought I would give you a brief summary about what I noticed during the videos.  The two videos that I found are on the following site, click here, and look under Individual Program Descriptions. I watched videos 8 and 10 and there are actually many other videos there if you wish to view them.

The first video I watched was Teacher Insights 9-12. The video focused on different math teachers and their way of assessing their students.  There were many different types of assessment that was included in this video and the teachers were all pretty similar in their assessing process. Most did the classic listening in/observing students work and seeing who participated during class. There was also many of the teachers who did self/group/peer assessment and some even had more creative forms of assessment like presentations, portfolios and interviews!  I noticed that the students in these classrooms were nothing like ours in our high school math classes.  These students all worked hard, were able to think deeply and critically about the work they were doing and were able to reflect the process they did to complete the process. I also noticed that they seemed very confident in their work and abilities.  They seemed almost excited and wanting to try out their strategies and do the work.  I remember one of the students sounding very excited and said “that’s what I said!” when she found out her answer was correct. It was weird to see but also very nice to see that there are students out there who are like that.

Since you’re becoming a teacher yourself, Lauren, I think that you should check out this video.  It’s a great way to see many different types of assessment that can be used and which ones seemed to be the most successful.  Remember how in high school the only way we got assessed was through tests and assignments?  We never had any opportunities to have group projects, presentations or any other cool opportunities to represent our knowledge.  This makes me wonder how our teachers really knew where we were at with our learning.  Using the different techniques that were shown in the video will allow us, as future teachers, to see where our students are at with the material they are learning and it will also give the students a fun way to show it.  The teachers in the video seemed very pleased with their strategies and seemed to know their students’ abilities quite well.  I believe that this video will be very beneficial for you, let me know what you think!

The second video I watched was Case Study: Ferris Wheel. This video was about a classroom that was working on a problem about a persons’ position on a double wheel ferris wheel. Their task was to find a function to represent the position. The teacher began her lesson by reviewed the question from the day before, which was about a persons’ position on a single wheel ferris wheel. I don’t know about you, but wouldn’t you have liked it if our teacher did a quick review each day? I think it would be very beneficial for the students and in the video it showed it was because it made it a little easier for them to transition into the new problem and get right into the work that was needed to be done. It also allowed for the students in the video to remember the process that they needed to use in order to figure out the answer to the question.  I also noticed in the video that the teacher walked around and observed the students a lot as they worked.  She made sure to ask her students questions if needed and was very interactive and always there.  Wouldn’t have that been nice for our struggles in high school?

I also noticed that the students seemed pretty engaged in the problem.  A ferris wheel is something that everyone has experience before so they were able to relate to the question.  I feel like this allowed the question to be a little easier for them to figure out because they know exactly what they’re dealing with.  Don’t you think it’ll be a good idea to have relatable and real life questions like that in our classrooms?  I also noticed a cool way of assessing the students work that the teacher preformed at the end of the problem period.  Once she believed that everyone understood what was occurring, she had them write a paper about their experiences, conclusions, interpretations and approaches of their way of solving the problem.  This is something that you don’t see in a math classroom at all and I think it’s a good idea because it allows the students to voice their opinion on how they reached the answer!  Instead of the teacher just saying they got it right or not, she can now take into consideration their arguments on how they got to that conclusion and grade accordingly.


I can’t wait to hear back from you about these two videos.  Let me know what you think and if you also have any other comments or opinions about them don’t be afraid to tell me!  Isn’t it cool how as the years go by more and more types of assessment and teaching become apparent.  I hope all is well your way, good luck!



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