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Virtual Conference on Soft Skills

Remediation After Assessment

“I’ll present how to graph quadratic equations tomorrow, Mrs. C.  I just nailed it on the assessment.”  This is music to my ears.  I used to dread the day after an assessment (or test for those of you who are not on the SBG bandwagon).  I would hand the assessment back to the students and would proceed to go over the most missed problems or any gaps in learning the assessments revealed.  I asked another teacher how she went over tests with her students and her reply was, “I don’t.  If the students didn’t get it, too bad; we are moving on.”  (Ok, maybe it wasn’t that negative, but it sounded like that to me.) 

My classroom was not much better.  While I stood at the front of the classroom working problems from the assessment, some of the students put their heads down totally discouraged that they failed or nearly failed several of the assessments. Those who performed perfectly, picked up a book (non math) and proceeded reading.  I felt like it was the most wasted 20 – 30 minutes of my week.

This year I implemented sessions.  The day after an assessment, I approach the students who mastered certain topics and ask him or her to present one of the sessions that day.  I arrange the classroom differently on session day, placing the desks in small groups or pods.  The groups are labeled with the topics from the previous day’s assessment.  For example, the groups might be labeled as follows:

  • Graphing Quadratic Equations
  • Factoring Trinomials
  • Solving Quadratic Equations Using the Quadratic Formula

I may even add in a topic from a previous assessment if several of the students still need to retest or display competency on it.  This alleviates the demand for tutoring outside of school for me and helps those students who can’t come in early or stay late.

As the students are walking into the classroom, I will hand their assessments back to them and tell them to join a session.  If a student did well on all of the topics, I ask them to join the group they can provide the most help in.  I often hand an assessment back to a student and say, “You need to attend the session on graphing.”  It is not a choice for them.  The students who did the best on the assessments are the presenters.  They go over the problems from the previous day’s assessment and another example I provide them with.  I prepare these on notecards ahead of time.  The students are required to pose all of their questions to the presenters.  I am only a facilitator and make sure all groups are on task and try not to get involved in any one session.  Students are free to move to another session once he or she has mastered that topic.  Sessions last a total of 15 minutes.  This means students must work together quickly. 

My students love session day.  They are so proud to be asked to be one of the presenters.  I have students who have never studied for a test prepare for the assessments so they can be a presenter.  It is interesting to see different methods to solve the same problems come out in the groups.  Students who are often shy or quiet in class will speak and share in a session. 

One of the things that shocked me most in teaching is that the students in my classroom do not always know each other.  They may go the entire year and never speak to the person sitting next to them.  These sessions alleviate that problem and force them to interact in a safe environment.

  1. July 7, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    I work at a school with 45 kids, so I too am shocked that some of your students don’t know each other – I never even thought of that consequence of a larger school!

    This technique is a fantastic idea. One of my strategies for building responsibility and empowerment is to list all of the things that I do as a teacher, like “review test, plan lessons, give feedback on homework, straighten desks, write reassessment questions,” etc, and then ask myself, “which of these things could a student do?” You’ve found one in reviewing that I didn’t – giving the students the opportunity to be experts in this way is outstanding. Thanks for sharing!

  2. July 8, 2010 at 2:24 am

    @Riley: My school has 1500 students so most of them do not know each other. I do not know most of the students. I love your idea of trying to delegate other tasks as well. I am going to have them write reassessment question this year. Thanks for your positive comments and including my post on your blog.

  3. July 8, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Great idea! I will probably “borrow” this one – I really like it! Thanks for sharing it.

  4. July 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I am not ready to jump on the SBG bandwagon yet, but I do have a simpler system that I implement consistently and like, that incorporates some of these same peer-teaching ideas. It’s simple and nothing earth-shattering: quiz and test corrections, in class.

    The kids have about 10 to 15 minutes after I pass back each quiz to correct their mistakes in class, and to submit them for a partial-credit re-grade. They have the opportunity to ask me questions, or to ask any other kid in the class (as I am usually bogged down with a number of kids waiting to be helped). I find that even my most difficult kids work extremely diligently during those minutes, because their efforts will have an immediate impact upon their grade. This means that they cannot afford to NOT look at the problems they’ve missed — in fact, because of time constraints, they tend to focus the most on the problems that they had missed the most points in. And also because of time constraints, I don’t find kids copying answers. Even the “smart kids” are trying to get some points back of their own, so they don’t have time to just hand their quiz to another kid to copy; instead, they would much rather take 30 seconds and explain how to work out a problem. (And since we have already done practice quizzes beforehand that are similar in content, it doesn’t usually take much explanation for a kid to get on the right track with a problem.) I also facilitate in this peer-teaching by helping a kid on a problem, and then referring other kids to him/her for help on the same problem.

    I do the chapter test corrections all at once at the end of each grading period, so that they serve as spiral material (and also so that the kids would feel more responsibility to master each chapter’s material BEFORE its test — since their test grade will “stick” with them, without correction points, for a while). The only exception I make is for kids who are really low performers and who wish to make chapter test corrections immediately, they have the option of joining my Monday after-school math-help session and do the corrections with the help of me and other remedial students. (That is, by the way, the most beautiful part of my week. Those after-school kids know they’re struggling, so they work so hard to help themselves and EACH OTHER! And their commitment shows up significantly in their grades.)

    I’m by no means writing off SBG, but I’m not convinced (yet) that it’s the be-all and end-all of grading and assessment…

    • July 8, 2010 at 6:32 pm

      I like test corrections and used to do them myself. I found that regrading the tests after spending hours the night before grading them was taking me too long. SBG is not perfect, but it has saved me a lot of time. I normally can grade a set of assessments for one class in 20- 30 minutes versus the 2 hours I would spend on a classroom set with the old system. When my students retest, I grade it immediately in front of them. Not bringing work home is probably the best part.

  5. Persida (iTeach)
    July 8, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I love this idea! Thank you for sharing. I am working on my post-assessments for next year. In one class I am having the students self-assess and then follow up with remediation and in another class, I was thinking of doing something like this. I really like the idea. Thank you!

  6. July 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Coooool. But, 15 minutes? Like, 15 minutes and then back to some other formation and we’re on to new material? Or, 15 minutes, then we do another group of sessions (on different topics from the same test) for 15 minutes, and so on through the day?

  7. July 8, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    @ Dan: I normally play it by ear depending on how much remediation is necessary. I normally spend 10 – 15 minutes per session and then the students move to a different session as necessary. My assessments only cover 3 – 4 new topics so 30 minutes for the entire activity is normally enough. My students know my rule is if they are engaged and active then I will always provide them with more class time, but if they are off topic, then it is time to move on to new material. I hope this helps.

  8. July 8, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    You do this after every assessment? Is this a weekly thing then? Does it take the whole period? Does it take the whole period to assess?

    • July 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm

      I teach three lessons and then give the students an assessment that contains the previous three lessons and the current three lessons. This means that each objective is assessed twice. I normally give an assessment once a week. There are a few weeks where we do not have an assessment. The review sessions have never taken more than half of the block. (Our blocks are 90 minutes long.) Normally, we are finished with the sessions after 30 minutes. This leaves me time to introduce a new lesson.

      I do not allow my students to retest objectives until they have been assessed twice. This means that I teach lessons 1,2,3 and then give an assessment with each lesson worth 5 points. I teach lessons 4,5,6 and give an assessment that covers lessons 1-6. (This assessment normally takes the average student 30 minutes.) The scores for lessons 1,2,and 3 are then added together for a possible total of 10. At this point students can retest lessons 1,2, and 3. I continue with this process. (This is a hybrid of Kate’s and Dan’s assessment guidelines.)

      Due to fact that the lessons are grouped in 3’s most students attend the sessions for the three lessons that are open for retesting. The students see the immediate reward for learning this material.

  9. July 10, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Amber, I love this. It’s got all of the most wonderful things you can do to build up your students. I can’t wait to try this next year. Can you tell us what mistakes were made or what had to change the first time that you did these sessions?

    • July 11, 2010 at 10:04 pm

      @ hillby: The first time I did this activity, as with any new activity, I had to spend some extra time explainig the process to the students. I made the mistake of not talking to the students who were the experts for the day and nailing down their roles. Many of them went over the problems on the assessment and then sat there. This is why I now provide them with extra problems on notecards. This way, the expert can assign a practice problem and let the students work them to verify mastery.

      Another mistake I made was not assigning some students to groups when they walked in the door. Some students do not make wise decisions about what they need work on (I know this is shocking). I fixed this by handing back their assessment as they walk in the door and telling them, “You need to attend the session on ____.” This way they did not attend a session they earned a 3/5 on instead of a session they earned a 0/5 on.

      The most important thing I learned though is be flexible on your time. Some assessments require more remediation and others only a few moments. I tend to play it by ear. Good luck and thanks for the good comments.

  10. July 18, 2010 at 5:20 am

    So, please tell me you are on Twitter. If you aren’t, there is an entire posse plotting to harass you into it. We are all lovin’ on your blog! 🙂

    • July 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm

      I’m not on Twitter, but I’m feeling the peer pressure. Maybe in the near future… 🙂

  11. July 22, 2010 at 11:23 am

    What a good idea. Thank you for sharing it.

  12. Alex
    August 5, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Hi Amber,

    Question for you regarding your SBG protocol. I follow Dan’s system pretty closely, but I like your idea of 3 lessons at a time, quiz each lesson twice before they can retake, add the two scores for a total out of 10.

    So a kid gets a 2 on a lesson the first time she sees it and a 5 the second time. She has a 7. Then she can come in on her own and retake? If she does, and gets a 5, does that replace the 2?


    • August 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

      I follow Kate Nowak’s system pretty closely. Her link is on the side of my blog. Last year when a student retested, if it was perfect, they automatically earend a 9 out of 10, both grades replaced. This year, I am going to make sure the second time I assess that the question(s) are harder. If a student earns a 2 the first time and a 5 the second time I am going to make it a 9/10 in my gradebook with a retest. This should save some students and me retest time. My feeling is that if a student can get the harder questions correct then why make them retest again. So, a 5 the second time automatically gets them a 9/10 with no retesting. (Most teachers give retests a 10/10, but I don’t. The max you can get with retesting is a 9/10. My feeling here is that a student is still going to earn an A with the other 30% of the grade. Plus, my honor students get 3% points added on to their grade at the end just for breathing. District Policy.) Hope this helps.

  13. August 9, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Thanks for taking time to explain your system. I’m very excited about incorporating this into my class this year. Just curious, what kind of reactions did you get from parents when you started using SBG?

  14. September 6, 2012 at 4:36 am

    This is an excellent idea! I’m thinking of the downsides to try and avoid them when I try this out. Are kids willing to present? Are the same kids presenting pretty regularly? Do kids mess up the explanation? I guess I’m asking what have you found are things to watch for and how do you overcome them?

    • September 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      I try to vary what students I choose as presenters. This is difficult because often times the same students score high on the assessments and the same students struggle. If a student who normally does poorly performs well on one standard, I definitly try to make them a presenter. Most kids are willing to present. They feel honored and want everyone to know that they did well. I try to monitor the room to make sure the kids explain the problems correctly. It normally works out that I have at least 2 kids in a group who have done well and if one is the presenter, the other student can monitor the work.

      I have modified this for some classes and have not called them presenters but group leaders. I put the kids in groups and tell the person with the high score that he or she is the group leader and their job is to make sure everyone in the group corrects the assessment and can explain what he or she did wrong and how to correct it. The helps to relieve some of the pressure that comes with the title of presenter. Good luck!

  15. March 13, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Awesome idea! Thanks!

  16. lisabej
    February 1, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I love when I find a blog post that aligns so closely to what my students need…tomorrow!…Thank you! I’ll blog about how it goes on my 180 blog.

  1. July 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm
  2. September 25, 2012 at 11:39 pm
  3. January 24, 2013 at 6:36 am
  4. March 12, 2013 at 4:53 am
  5. February 4, 2014 at 6:26 pm

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