Thursday, 31 October 2013

How Big Is Your Classroom - Part 2

So we spent some time collecting data from the P-4 classrooms. This is a bit of a journey thanks to the way our school is set up. P-4 are over one the western boundary of the school - about 250m from Year 5 + 6.

Data Collecting

When we got back we pooled out data. Here is what we found:

Room              Side 1              Side 2               Area

PK                   9.82m            8.51m             8356.82m2
PK                  not measured           
MH                  8.95m             9.25m             82.7875m2
KM                  not measured
1JH                  9.63m             8.2m               78.963m2
1RB                 10.5m             8.0m               84m2
2PM                10.49m           8.5m              
2AH                 9.85                8.0m               78.88m2
3BR                 32FEET          27FEET         
3EB                 8.0m               10.4m             83.20m2
3TM                10.64m           8.1m               86.9288m2
3HB                 8.14m             9.02                73.4228m2
4RB                 8.0m               9.7m               77.6m2
4CS                 10.58              7.75m             81.995m2
4JG                  8.94m             8.9m               79.566m2

Some interesting points:

  • looks like there was trouble with decimal point in one of the PK classrooms - unless their room is actually the size of a football field.
  • One of the Year 4 rooms was missed out. Not sure why.
  • The group measuring 3BR measured in feet and inches. One of them said, "So is there like 30cm in 1 foot so I could try to figure it out that way?" The teacher prompted them to just turn the tape over and use the metric scale that was on the other side.
  • Lots of kids struggled with converting from metres to cms - need to go over that one again.
  • And also the need to take about square centimetres when discussing area.
  • We had a good talk about why the rooms are not all exactly the same. What things were done differently that might account for diversity of responses. And if we all got different results, what statements can we make about this data? Is it fair to say that all the rooms are about 80 square metres? And what room should Mr Black have?

So what?

In a recent chat on #pstchat, a weekly time on Tuesday evenings at 7.30pm EST, I was discussing listening as an assessment tool in maths. An interesting question came up - do the parents think that this kind of assessment is "soft"? Does sitting around listening to kids talk about their actions constitute rigorous assessment? Is it as valid as a pen and paper test?

Here's my response:

  1. If I listen to what the kids are saying as they explain how the went about solving a problem, I will learn more than I would if I just looked at written responses on a page.
  2. By listening, and discretely probing with questions, I can get the students to think deeper than they will if they are just writing answers in a box.
  3. By giving the students the chance to talk about what they have done and to explain the process, I am letting them develop a deeper understanding of the concept that they are engaged with.
  4. There are many students who are disenfranchised by poor literacy skills - their opportunities to progress in Maths are limited because they cannot read or write effectively. These children need to communicate their understanding through talking.
  5. By talking with the whole class, children can gain a broader understanding of the concept by hearing what other students have done.
  6. From this activity that we have engaged in this week, I have been able to modify my teaching (I won't be using tape measures with imperial measurements again), reinforce skills that students were struggling with and clarify concepts that were not fully understood.
  7. I also have a good idea of who can do what - I have notes on individual children and what they said and did. This is qualitative assessment.
So many positives.

And of course we had some fun.

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