Math interviews

Everyone in my school board was asked to do a math interview with students as an assessment. We’ve known about it since August, and today, October 2, we had a PD day where these were discussed (among other things.)

I was sitting with other Primary teachers, and we talked for a long time about how students had placed a few numbers on a number line, and represented some numbers on a math rack. We really looked at their responses and strategies and noticed so many things about our learners based on these simple questions alone.

When I first started teaching, I taught math to grade 5 students on a rotary schedule, so I had 3 classes with about 30 students in each. I marked things “right” or “wrong”, and I looked for common errors in algorithms to plan some instruction. Mostly, I taught the next lesson in the textbook day after day. If re-taught a skill and people did a better job on the quiz the second time around, I felt pretty good about myself.

Now, however, I feel like I’ve learned so much about all the ways problems can be solved, and how to analyze the strategies and skills a child utilized and demonstrates. That’s been 15 years in the making. When I was first hired in Ontario and went to set up my new kindergarten classroom, I was stunned to discover there wasn’t a single math resource in the room. I had to figure it all out. It was hard! But I think my whole career has been shaped by that experience, as well as all the years after that when I had to make due without a textbook, and eventually chose to set aside the textbooks that came my way. 

I’ve made some instructions decisions recently in math that are based on so much more than a quiz score. It’s very exciting to feel like I know exactly how to move my people along in their math understanding. We’re working on the Fosnot “Collecting and Organizing” unit, and I’m seeing them grow day by day as they puzzle their way through the tasks. It’s so exciting!

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