Once a month, my colleagues and I go to a highschool to look at a math sample from each of our “marker students”. There are a group of about ten of us which is made up of highschool teachers, elementary teachers and math facilitators. We take time to identify what the student knows, what they are struggling with and how we know this. The main point of these meetings that occur each month is to bridge the gap between elementary and high school. We are trying to review the necessary skills that kids in grade eight will need for next year and then we will spend large amounts of time focusing on these skills in addition to the topics we currently are expected to cover. It is very helpful to know which topics to spend the most amount of time on so I will look forward to the times in the future when we will be discussing those items.
At these sessions, we talk about what the student’s work shows us, if they are struggling with something, what does that tell us about how they are learning. We call this section of debriefing the interpretations.
The next part involves looking at next steps for students and teachers. It is a great use of time and helps us as teachers look at students we need to help further and then, we directly review how to help them reach these next steps.
All teachers get to share their marker students and then we spend time talking about how these students can get some help to further understand the questions and the overall math concepts.
The challenges we face when planning and attending these sessions include selecting a rich task that we can really dive into once we gather as a group. We tried using past EQAO assessments but couldn’t find any open ended questions. We then turned to some other test questions. I also find it hard to find the time to pull these students aside to help them once we find out ways to do so after the fact. The skill is so specific once we find out what they need help with that it seems hard to just discuss it as an isolated math skill.
The benefits to meeting like this is the amount of minds on tackling the questions and looking at helpful next steps. I really look forward to all of these educators coming into a classroom with me to help the students who are struggling in a real life setting. That will be great for all of the students, especially since they would then have at least ten educators in the room to help them grasp the challenging topics.