Intentional Assessment


We have been slowing going through the Formative Instructional Practices developed by the Georgia DOE for the past 3 years. This year, we are focusing in on the student self assessment and feedback modules. I’ve dabbled in student self assessment in the past like here and here

This year, I’m trying to be more intentional with making student self assessment a part of our habit of mind. What this looks like is school mandated content maps, rubric scoring (rubric based on Dane Ehlert’s rubric found here)of assignments and this:

Each morning, within the morning message, I encourage students to review the learning target(s) and move their picture accordingly. Twice a week, we revisit the content map and rate our understanding of the learning targets. I’m very intentional about sharing the true purpose of the formative assessments we complete and the reason homework is assigned. 

Remember, my goal is to make this a habit of mind for all students. Has every student moved a picture? Not yet. Does every student take the content map seriously? Not yet. Does every student complete their *homework? Not yet. But I will continue the conversation until every student feels like Nate who while working independently got up quietly from his seat and moved his picture. Or like Dayane who asked, “If I understand this learning target but not the other, can I still move my picture?” 

*a note about homework. Personally and as a parent I hate homework. For as long as I can remember it’s just been busy work which causes strife and tears. When I assign it, students have several days to complete enough to where they feel they had enough practice. I differentiate homework based on who needs additional practice with what. Or I differentiate based on student choice. 

No Regrets


The end of the year is fast approaching, which prompts continual reflection for me. I can honestly say I have no regrets. I wouldn’t change anything, I would only make adjustments. 

Standards Based Grading

Provide a rubric and explanation of the standards for parents in terms they can understand. 


Incorporate the observation rubric more. Less papers you have to grade for formative assignments (required by district). 


Emphasize backwards design. This will help determine what needs to be emphasized “instructionally” and what does not. This will also help me balance conceptual understanding with procedural fluency. 

Mastery Assessments

Have 3 options for demonstration of understanding. Make it quick (use of technology), concise and manageable (this I’m still thinking through). 


Incorporate more of it. Think of building conceptual understanding and practice like tasty lemonade, it has to have the right blend of lemonade flavor, sugar and water. Conceptual understanding, problem solving and practice or procedural fluency. 

Community Circle

Be more consistent and don’t be afraid to try with all classes. 

Small Groups

Don’t get stuck on having accountability pieces. 
Always remember we are teaching mathematics so it can be applied outside of the school setting as well. We are developing thinkers and problem solvers. Students (and parents) may be resistant in the beginning, which could be due to their inability to see the big picture. We must still push on, plant the seeds and water our crops. Teach without regrets, reflect and make adjustments. 
This post dedicated to Pam White. 

More Than What Meets the Eye


I had the pleasure of scoring my students Unit 2 Expressions and Equations common assessment or post test. We had covered the targets for a while so I felt confident in what the students would display on their assessments.

The test was composed of 14 multiple choice questions and 1 constructed response, 4 part question. It covered 4 main learning targets: Factor and Simplify Expressions, Write Expressions, Evaluate Expressions and Solve Equations. This information is all relevant and important because of the standards based grading approach I apply within my classroom.

For common assessments, we are required to post the scores within our gradebook. According to our school improvement plan, students should score 80% or higher on the assessment. And when you have many students not meet that goal, it’s easy to say, “My students don’t know and understand this concept!” That is unless you take a closer look.

Now remember, I told you the 4 learning targets assessed on the test. Students had an opportunity to show mastery on any of the 4 targets. If they did, that score was record within the gradebook as well.



At first glance, we see these students did not pass the assessment with a 80% or higher. Now take another look at what each student mastered. So instead of the thought my students don’t know this, I know specifically which targets the student knows and which he or she does not. I think more importantly than that, students are able to see which target they need extra practice. They’re in turn able to check of a target on the mastery chart.

IMG_3275.JPG This picture was taken prior to scoring the unit 2 common assessment.

When students are ready, they complete the mastery assessment and the updated score is entered into the gradebook. The newly entered score replaces the old, lower score. I think this beats having to retake an entire assessment when it was 1 target that you needed to redo in order to show mastery.

7th Graders Interpretation of the SMPs


I had my students interpret the Standards for Mathematical Practice.  What they came up with is better than some I’ve seen teachers produce in PLs I’ve conducted in the past.  Now the SMPs are something I can reference and know my students will understand to what I am referring.

After discussing standards 1-4, I had my students engage in Comparing Temperatures from Illustrative Mathematics.  Students had to determine which of the 4 standards were evident while they were completing the task.  So not only were they aware of the SMPs but also they now knew what those standards looked like in action.

In my blog post, SMPs According to 7th Graders, I share a few examples of their interpretations. Next steps will be, posting the SMPs in the language developed by the students on an anchor chart and using their language to develop a rubric in which we use the SMPs to score math tasks.

Being a Free Spirit


It’s funny how God gives your children the very character you desire to have. My oldest daughter is such a free spirit. She wears what feels right to her no matter the color scheme or weather. She moves to the music whether others hear it or not. I watch her and wish I could throw my controlling ways to the wind.

Now let me connect this idea of being a free spirit to my journey into middle school. Most teachers are hindered in best practices due to our own struggle with control. Unfortunately, students cannot accept responsibility for their learning if we do not give them some control. This is one way I plan to be a free spirit, my plan is layered like an onion.


Students will be graded based on demonstration of the standards. This will be done through portfolio based grading. Being a free spirit part 1, students will create a menu of ways to show understanding. Included in this menu will be two teacher selected pieces and 7 other options for students to decide. In order to grade the portfolio, a rubric will be created during a students and teacher collaboration, being a free spirit part 2. The rubric will be based on the SMPs and evidence of them within each unit of study. Well, students will need to understand the SMPs.

This is where being a free spirit part 3 comes into play. The activity plays out in my mind like this. Instead of posting kid friendly SMPs posters in the room, I plan to have students explore two standards a day. Students will look at the standard and discuss their interpretation of each. Students will be given the standard descriptors and will match the correct descriptor to the standards. This will be followed by an activity in which students will engage where the standards will be exhibited. After looking at all 8 standards, students can create posters of the SMPs.

Back to the rubric, with a better understanding of what they are expected to do, students can set the expectations of the 4 point scale rubric. My role will be to facilitate discussions and add specifics regarding the content standards. Free spirit squared 😁.