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Teacher Confession I am catching up on the blog, I am looking at my lesson calendar. For Tuesday, March 17th, I had originally scheduled a Game called the Shamrock Shuffle (truth be told, I only ever had the title and was planning on coming up the the game at some point).

What did I end up doing? I gave them a pre-test!

Doesn't that sound fun?!

So here is the confession: Sometimes I don't know when to make class a fun, white-board, teamed-up game and when kids just need pencil to paper, old fashioned practice. On this day, one day before the big test on solving quadratic functions, I woke up fearing that my students might be struggling with meta-cognition issues. They might think they know what they're doing.. but they might be wrong.

So on the board I wrote Meta-Cognition Activity and I distributed yellow pre-tests for them to complete individually... in silence... while I returned emails... #teacheroftheyear

To close, I displayed the answer key and they worked with their partners to correct and do some error analysis.

In reflection, I think I am being a bit harsh on myself. Students need practice and feedback, and while I know that giving them frequent, low-stakes quizzes and feedback via standards based grading is doing that, I think that using the day for a practice test was a good use of time. Next year, I need to allow more time for them to review the pre-test afterwards.


  1. I agree... I think you're being too harsh on yourself. I am sure that there are students in your class who will benefit from a variety of types of activities... quiet, collaborative, fun, kinesthetic, etc. I am super pumped on your error analysis organizer! Teachers in my department have been struggling with how to grade for precision within a specific standards-based-grading model that we have been piloting and I feel inspired that this document might help us make progress on this issue. Off to read more about your standards based grading experiences. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for reading! I am almost done with a longer post on SBG that explains how and why I am using Active Grade to track things. SBG has been worth while, but it is definitely a work in progress. I need more training, or at least to do a few twitter chats with other math teachers on it. :)

    2. Cool! The 2014-15 school year feels like it has been all about SBG for me. It's had some ups and downs, and I need to make some tweaks for next year, but overall I'm into it. At my site we have mostly followed the work of Eric Twadell, superintendent at Stevenson High School District in Illinois. He refers to his practice as "evidence-based reporting." My principal has flown him out twice in the last year to work with our staff. He has explained a lot of the details of his EBR/SBG system on his website:

      I also found a lot of inspiration and ideas from attending the Pearson Assessment Training Institute in Portland last summer. I went with a small group from my school. I am planning to attend again this year with a much larger group from my school. I am excited to attend this year because I feel like I will be looking with new eyes due to all of the experience that I have gained through implementing SBG in my classroom this year. Info for the conference is here:

    3. Thank you for your recommendations! I will add them to my list. I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply - I was on spring break. I have written a bit more about how I am working SBG in my algebra classes here:

      It is a work in progress, of course, and I look forward to checking out the resources you shared. :)

  2. I really like the way you approached this! In my Powerful Learning Practice cohort, we just completed our learning cycle on assessment. We spent some time focused on a great chart comparing "assessment of learning" and "assessment for learning." Your error analysis checklist for your students helps them to self-assess for their own learning. Thanks for sharing such a great idea!


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