Field Testimonials

As the assessments are field-tested the project conducts meetings to provide participating educators with information about the misconceptions, including examples of student work demonstrating the misconception.

The project hears consistently that these meetings are providing valuable educational experiences for participating school staff in that they are increasing teachers’ understanding about the existence of the targeted misconceptions, as well as information about the cognitive processes underlying these misconceptions.

Participating School Staff

The assessment process was very beneficial because the process showed the teachers that there are common misconceptions that students have and what teachers need to consider for instruction. In one instance it was great that I got to meet with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers on a fraction probe. The probe was given to all the 4th and 5th grade students in the school and the results were very telling to the teachers. When I told them that this particular probe related to a 3rd grade comma core standard they were quite surprised. It was nice to have the 3rd grade teachers there because in the end they decided to give the probe after working with fractions with their students to see if the students had this particular conceptual knowledge or not.

The EM2 assessments are great because they focus on particular misconceptions. In my work with 7th and 8th grade teachers we are working on looking closer at individual students and progress monitoring their understanding of the common core. We have been talking about accessing prior knowledge recently and looking at prerequisite skills students should have in place before beginning a particular unit. EM2 assessments are beneficial because they target specific knowledge with a specific focus versus asking multiple questions that are not directly related.

Once teachers saw that certain students had misconceptions their awareness was heightened. Some took it personally, some worked on additional instruction, and others looked at new ways of teaching a concept they hadn't thought of before. In years past I have struggled at so many meetings trying to have teachers realize the need for formative assessment. For some teachers it was very eye opening to have them give an assessment probe and realize that looking at student thinking gave them valuable insight that could be hindering the student from moving forward.

Mathematics Coach
Fall 2012

Having all three grade level teachers meet to go over the results of the fraction probe was very beneficial because we could all see what the misconceptions of our students were so we can help them in the future. Even though the 8th grade teachers did not give the probe, we still get to teach the 6th grade students so we know what the misconceptions are before the students come to us. When we review fractions with the students as 7th or 8th grade teachers, we have a beginning point to work with. All of the math teachers can be on board with what is going "wrong" with fractions and how we might be teaching them to our students.

The EM2 assessments are similar to the types of formative assessments used in the district in that they require students to think about what is being asked and to explain their reasoning. We do expect our students to explain or show their work so we can get a better understanding of what the students are thinking. However, the EM2 assessments are different in the progression of the questions. Sometimes we may not ask the same type of question in a different way or more than a few times. The EM2 assessments have a good progression of understanding and are able to get to the misconceptions of our students in a short amount of time of analyzing the results.

Learning about the misconceptions is the most helpful tool with this process as it makes us the teachers think about what our students are thinking and it makes us find our "downfalls". We might be teaching something one way when we should be including another method or using more precise vocabulary or whatever it might be that comes up in the analysis of the probes. The students misconceptions help us to reteach the concept so the students misconceptions might be made into a better understanding of the concepts. The misconceptions allow us to become better, more informed teachers. We are always learning and striving to better ourselves.

Mathematics Teacher Leader
Spring 2013

The EM2 assessment is similar to some probes we have used before from, “Uncovering Student Thinking in Mathematics.” It was helpful to the teachers to have the misconceptions analyzed and tallied for them. The examples of the misconceptions were extremely beneficial, as sometimes teachers do not see all of these examples in their current classroom. The examples gave a focus for the conversations with teachers about what students knew, what they still needed to know and what the next steps might be in the classroom.

A major benefit of the assessment was for grade 5 teachers to see a deficiency in students' background knowledge of decimals. We know we have been behind in this area along with fractions and the teachers have worked hard at both grades 4 and 5 in the area of fractions, but now see the urgency for working together on curriculum, content, and scheduling for decimal concepts too.

Teachers began to analyze how they teach decimals and had productive discussions about some new instructional tasks and questions they can use with students to make sure they understand the concepts.

Learning about specific misconceptions was helpful to us in a number of ways:

  • It is a way for teachers, themselves, to develop deeper understanding about decimals.
  • It Initiates conversations about effective instructional task, practices, etc.
  • It is a way to focus instruction for the class and for individuals.
  • It is helpful for teachers to reflect on their own practice based on analyzing student work.

Math Coach
Fall 2013