Today, I had the privilege of teaching a math lesson in front of a number of other adults, including a grade 9 teacher from our high school and one of our consultants. Students completed a patterning activity using patterning tiles. I have strongly believed that elementary students need to be doing while they are learning, especially in math. They need to be able to manipulate the materials and get those visuals that help so many of them better understand the concepts that they are studying. This is one of the reasons that I like Marilyn Burns & Van deWalle because they provide you with lots of examples that teachers can use manipulatives with. One of the students was able to articulate how he arrived at his answer but needed a bit of prompting to get a thorough explanation of why his thinking was justified. During our feedback session this conversation with the student was mentioned as one of the other teachers also had a similar conversation with another student. The feedback then shifted to ‘question of process marks’ and how do we take a student’s thinking, conversations with us and our observations of them and equate them with a mark or a grade? We know according to the Growing Success document that these are some of the ways that we are supposed to use to gather student learning but how do we do it? How do we know that my professional judgement on this concept will be the same as yours? Also how do we go about communicating this to parents if we ourselves are not quite sure how to use it, or what the look-fors are, or what a level 3 or level 4 conversation sound like? Do I use process marks, All the time. I see great value in walking around and having those conversations as students are working. I love to see how some of them who struggle with putting their thoughts on paper can clearly and precisely explain their thinking orally. My struggle is how do I know that I am doing it right? How do I know that my teaching partner would assign the same grade or comment to a response from my student? Are any of you having these same experiences, and how are you handling it?
p.s. My fellow teachers were told that the lesson was not supposed to evaluate the teacher but I asked for feedback. It was great to be able to have my peers assess my lesson and provide me with authentic feedback that I could use to improve the next part of my lesson.