Chapters 2 & 3

05 Jul 2018 7:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

How often do you incorporate pre-assessments as you begin a new unit?

Think about an important topic that you teach and the tasks you use to engage students with the topic. Place the tasks on the Difficulty/Complexity graph on p. 77. What do you notice?


  • 10 Jul 2018 11:42 AM | Anonymous member
    I pre-assess 75% of my units.

    Looking at the graph on page 77 and thinking about my fraction unit, 50% of the tasks are in the fluency and stamina quadrants. Another 35% is in the strategic quadrant leaving 15% at the expertise level.

    There are some students (20% of students) who master the fluency/stamina levels and to meet their needs, 75% of tasks are at strategic thinking and 25% expertise levels. These students have difficulty struggling through problems, are afraid to fail, and sometimes don't want to take the risk to attempt expertise leveled problems.
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  • 13 Jul 2018 10:39 PM | Anonymous member
    I pre-assess my units more often at the beginning of the year more than at the end so maybe 45%. At the beginning of the year I don't know my students and their abilities so the information gained is very helpful. As the year goes on and the material is less review I don't pre-assess as often.

    Thinking about a solving equations unit that I have at the beginning of the year, students spend 15% of their time in the expertise section. They spend 30% of their time in the Fluency section. The rest of the time is spent on the other two sections about evenly. I think the numbers might be different depending on the particular unit we are studying. I tend to have students work in groups more when they are in the expertise and stamina sections so they can support each other.
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  • 16 Jul 2018 9:18 AM | Anonymous member
    I also do more pre-assessing at the beginning of the school year. It helps to know where students are coming into the new class and what they have retained from the previous year. This helps to plan review for the material that will be needed to proceed with the new topics. As we move into brand new material, I don't pre-assess as often but can quickly regroup or accelerate students into appropriate tasks.

    Expertise level work is often terrifying for some students so by incorporating the difficult parts into other steps along the way in smaller pieces and then having the students work together to see how it all fits together is a little more comforting. Then attempting the difficult parts all at once, first in a group and then also on their own, students can see that even the really difficult pieces are achievable. They don't always want to go on for that difficult accomplishment and about 20% of them will choose not to do the additional individual work. However, I am always thrilled when one of those students finally decides to take on the challenge and then comes to me after and says, "I don't know what I was worried about. I really can do this! Why would anyone not give it a try?" So much of what we do, I believe, is giving students the opportunities to discover their strengths and their own persistent selves. We can tell them every day that they can do it, and we do! But until they make that discovery for themselves it is hard to really believe.
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  • 16 Jul 2018 12:13 PM | Anonymous member
    In our math classroom all units are built into Empower. At the beginning of each unit, learners take a pre-assessment, which is broken up into the individual learning targets. Learning targets build from what should be background knowledge to DOK (depth of knowledge) levels 3 and 4 of the performance indicator (standard). The pre-assessment lets us know where learners are on their learning path to reach proficiency. If learners are proficient in certain areas, they are exempted from those learning targets. This allows for learners to move at their own pace and focus on what they need to learn, not to waste time on skills they already know.

    In our scientific notations unit, learners spend some time with fluency, especially in the beginning when working on the exponent laws, some time on the expertise tasks when working at the DOK 3 and 4 tasks, and the majority of the time working on tasks that are in the strategic and stamina quadrants. I notice that throughout the unit, depending on where they are at on their learning path, they encounter tasks from all four quadrants.
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