Last week I had the opportunity to visit Melissa Guenther’s Grade 10 Math Class at NHS the day before an assessment day. When I walked in, all of the students were engaged in purposeful review on whiteboards set up the room, working collaboratively on a set of problems displayed at the front. It was noisy — there was a lot of discussion and question asking and figuring out going on, so much that when I entered the room, no one really noticed; all the learners were engaged in determining what they could do, and solving problems that they found challenging. There was a lot of mathematics going on!
In between classes, I had the chance to chat with Melissa about the test that was taking place the following day. She explained that part of the reason they were doing collaborative review was because there was a collaborative partner component to the test they were doing the next day. This idea of collaborative assessment is something that I have dabbled with in my own classroom practice in the MY, and I often wondered if it was a practice that could also be a part of a SY mathematics classroom.
It is true that as we assess we need to gather information about what students can do independently, but it is also equally true that learning is a social construct — we want students who can learn with and from each other, and we also want students to see the interconnected-ness of their learning together in a classroom.
In this case, students were asked to collaboratively work through a series of questions as a partner, but also, in a second part of carry that learning forward into an independent test section. There are , many ways to do formal assessment collaboratively, while at the same time, also gathering independent assessment. I would encourage all of us to consider ways we could bring this practice into our own classrooms.