Monday, 14 November 2016

Student reflections in maths

by Martina Horn
Prep teacher (5 - 6 year olds)
Australian International School
In planning for an upcoming stand alone mathematics unit on Shape, the Prep team wanted to focus on our own understanding of the approaches to learning and how they relate to Mathematics. During our initial collaborative planning session we identified the targeted transdisciplinary and mathematical skills and unpacked these in more detail through the lens of Shape. From there we were able to develop a series of goals related to these skills. These goals were discussed and the team identified how they connected to both the Prep and Year 1 end of year expectations for Shape. Whilst it is important for students to set their own learning goals, it was felt that an initial area for development was improving teacher understanding of how the skills and lines of inquiry could be developed into goals.
In order to support the use of these goals I developed an ‘Up and Down Reflection’ for students to use
The aim of this self-assessment was so my students could tell me which areas in shape they felt they knew well and/or which areas they felt they needed to work on a little or a lot more. The students were asked to show this by either drawing a hill (the up) above the red line running through the centre of the graph paper. The size of the hill would reflect how much they felt they already knew.  If they felt they needed to work on the area a lot, they would draw an upside down hill (a down) below the red line. To help guide them to reflect above or below the red line, a happy face indicated above the line and a sad face indicated below the line. This helped the children understand what was meant by know well or need more learning. It had no negative connotation attached to it and they seemed to understand this.
This type of graphical representation was selected for both its mathematical nature and accessibility for young learners.
It is felt that most students were able to accurately reflect on their knowledge of shapes and where they felt they needed to focus on more. This activity connects directly to the PYP framework which encourages and makes use of self-reflection upon completion of units of study, and has assisted me to give each student a ‘shape math goal’. Moving forward, students will be encouraged to select their own goals based on their self-assessments.
As a class we will be using the next few weeks to focus each week on shape math goals and these are individualized according to how each student reflected. These goals are displayed on the class Math Board and discussed regularly so as to develop student articulation of goals and vocabulary.
Would I do anything different next time?
Instead of using a happy and a sad face to stress how much understanding a student has, I would rather put a check or a thumbs up symbol to indicate = know concept well/good understanding, and a thumb to the side to indicate = need to develop more understanding. This will ensure the reflection is seen positively.


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