Practical activities – classroom talk as an assessment tool
Alternatively, you might like to use formative assessment, carried out in small steps over a week or two. The anchor tasks from Maths — No Problem! textbooks are great to use for this purpose as they provide rich opportunities for classroom talk, which is an excellent assessment tool.
In her 2016 book, Assessment for Learning without Limits, Alison Peacock makes the point that the opportunity to formatively assess learning is “severely undermined” when dialogue is not abundant in our classrooms.
Again, working from the previous year’s textbook chapter on your new topic, select an anchor task. Ask pupils to work in pairs to see how many different ways they can tackle the ‘In Focus’ task. Don’t forget – three ways is a clever day!
While pupils are working, move around the room listening to what they are talking about and looking at the different representations they use. You will gather rich information about their recall of prior learning and their ability to apply it, which shows you what you need to cover at the start of your next teaching sequence.
Pitching the start of your teaching at the right level will save you time in the long run. More importantly, it ensures your pupils experience the high levels of success Barak Rosenshine says are necessary to boost their confidence.
They can and will succeed in maths!