Monday, May 25, 2015

Scott Woelber Summative Assessment Project

Summative Assessment Project for Hopdina Technology Cohort
  1. A thorough description of the project with links and screenshots
My work in Edina as the K-12 Mathematics Coordinator is primarily with teachers.  My goal with the project was to learn about technology tools and online resources to support our continuing district wide efforts to achieve balance between assessing procedural skill and knowledge along with conceptual understanding, application, and creation.  The tools in this class focused on authentic assessment which is more about application and creation than procedural knowledge, so I focused on creating a Project Based Learning activity for secondary math.  Additionally, I curated resources to support secondary math PLC teams' efforts to create and implement complex tasks in their unit design.

I relied heavily on the resources provided by the Buck Institute for Project Based Learning.  They offer examples of projects, interviews with teachers, rubrics, professional development about how to write a good Driving Question, and a terrific template to guide one through creating a Project Based Learning activity.  Here is my Pool Project written from the Buck Institute project planner.  To support that project, I used the rubric support provided by www.forallrubrics.com/. It is the easiest way to make a rubric that I have used. Here is my Swimming Pool Project Rubric.  The Buck Institute for Project Based Learning and the forallrubrics.com resources are very helpful tools for supporting a PLC math team moving in the direction of authentic assessment.

To further support PLC teams, I explored several resources suggested by Tim Kanold in his series Beyond the Common Core:  Mathematics in a PLC at Work.  To collect and share, I used the Google Site that I made for my 20% project in this Hopdina Tech Cohort.  See K - 12 Mathematics --> Resources --> Secondary and look under the PLC Resources header.  The last two bullets are very comprehensive collections of resources for professional development for secondary math teachers working in teams.  They will serve as a jumping off point to further my presentation at the Edina Learning Institute in August.


2. A description of standards addressed
The Pool Design project addresses these two MN geometry standards:
9.3.1.2 Compose and decompose two- and three-dimensional figures; use decomposition to determine the perimeter, area, surface area and volume of figures.
9.3.1.3 Understand that quantities associated with physical measurements must be assigned units; apply such units correctly in expressions, equations and problem solutions that involve measurements; and convert between measurement systems.

While those two are content standards, when students participate in the project, they are also addressing these Standards for Mathematical Practice from the Common Core:

MP1 - Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

MP2 - Reason Abstractly and Quantitatively

MP4 - Model with Mathematics

MP6 - Attend to Precision

In terms of supporting PLCs, the resources I listed on my Google Site support the following High Leverage Team Actions:

HLTA 2 - Identifying higher-level-cognitive-demand tasks
HLTA 3 - Developing common assessment instruments

HLTA 4 - Developing rubrics and proficiency expectations for the common assessment instruments

HLTA 6 - Using higher-level-cognitive-demand tasks effectively

3. An explanation of how the assessment is authentic
The project is an example of authentic assessment because it fulfills these criteria:

  • Real Life/Relevant/Larger Audience - yes. The task is to design and present a swimming pool to the Mayor's office. There will be a winner, and the student might actually get to swim in the pool they design.
  • Engaging/Interesting - yes. The project is all about swimming pools which are engaging for lots of children. The tasks include precision calculations as well as design experiences, presentations, and collaboration opportunities.
  • Involve Synthesis/Critical Thinking - yes. There is no one answer for the project. There are many possible answers, and developing an answer includes synthesizing the details of the budget, surface area, volume, and the actual appeal and functionality of the completed pool.


The Buck Institute provides criteria for the driving question of an authentic, project based learning experience. The pool project addresses all 3 aspects of good driving questions.

  • Can they understand the question?  Is it relevant in their lives?  yes - Designing a pool and swimming in it are relevant to children's lives.
  • Is it Google-able?  No. There are many different possible solutions.
  • Is it aligned with learning goals?  Yes - see the standards addressed in #2.

4. A personal reflection on your growth in this area

Catlin Tucker caught my attention right away with her definition of mastery from the Ed Leadership article from Week 1 - 5 Musts for Mastery  Mastery is when you desire to keep getting better. Degrees of mastery include: Creativity and Play, Student Centered Learning, Freedom to Choose, Shared Goal Setting, Timely and Specific Feedback.

The kind of mastery defined by Tucker is missing from our math program, and there are lots of resources and tools available to help teachers move in that direction. I was surprised at the number of tools available to support rubric based grading. In particular, Goobric and forallrubrics make is easy to create and score student work that is based on quality indicators.

I was also surprised at the amount of support and PD available for math PLCs. The Mathematics Assessment Project, for examples, has complete PD modules ready for use.

Overall, the project has provided examples of excellence, technology tools, and online resources that will support me in my work with math teachers and PLC teams to further develop authentic assessment in math. And, a next step that I can facilitate is to encourage authentic assessment through complex tasks that don't need to be very long. Complex tasks, as processed in class through the 5 Practices of Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions, can serve as the formative assessment component of PBL.

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