Episode #292: How to use Portfolios in a Math Classroom: Is it worth it? – A Math Mentoring Moment

Jul 1, 2024 | Podcast | 0 comments


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Episode Summary:

In this episode of the Make Math Moments That Matter Podcast, we dive deep into the transformative journey of Seth Boschen as he embarks on a new role leading a team of teachers in his math department. 

Faced with the challenge of implementing standards-based grading and integrating portfolios into his classes, Seth shares his insights and experiences that will resonate with any educator looking to enhance student engagement and learning outcomes. 

Kyle and Jon bring their wealth of knowledge to the table, offering Seth practical advice on making the most out of limited class time, providing meaningful feedback, and setting achievable goals. Whether you’re struggling to balance assessment with instruction or seeking to cultivate a growth-oriented culture, this episode provides actionable strategies and encouragement to help you navigate the complexities of assessment in math class. 

    What you’ll learn:

    • Gain practical strategies for implementing standards-based grading and using portfolios to enhance student learning and feedback.
    • Learn how to create engaging math problems and develop standards that drive student success and engagement.
    • Get insights on leading a math department effectively, with tips on setting achievable goals, fostering a growth-oriented culture, and using humor and relatability in teaching.

    Don’t miss out on transforming your math teaching approach—tune in to this episode now and unlock the secrets to a more engaging and effective math classroom!

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    Episode Summary:

    New Role and Math Teaching Approach

    Seth announced a new role for the next year where he will lead a team of instructional coaches in math, due to a lack of a dedicated coach. Kyle acknowledged the changes in Seth’s school district and the impact of new roles and structures. Seth shared his positive experiences with math teachers who encouraged self-study and independent learning, which he found beneficial. Jon emphasized the importance of productive struggle, and Seth agreed that he values an approach of being challenged to figure things out on his own, a teaching style he plans to implement.


    Switching to Standards-Based Grading With Portfolios

    Seth shared his plan to switch to standards-based grading and integrate portfolios into his math classes, seeking advice from Jon and Kyle on how to effectively use portfolios and assess students weekly in a limited class time. Jon and Kyle supported Seth’s approach, highlighting the benefits of providing more meaningful feedback to students and allowing them to focus on specific areas of need. Seth, who will be in a new leadership role, also shared his experience with shorter assessments and his interest in the portfolio approach, prompting Kyle to suggest he could influence his team’s summer learning activities through sharing his insights.


    Developing Standards and Engaging Students

    Kyle and Jon discussed the importance of developing standards and utilizing them to create engaging problems for students to solve, emphasizing the benefits of a collaborative approach. They also discussed the value of having a ready portfolio of tasks for students to tackle once a standard has been introduced. Seth presented a bank of questions he had created for the first learning goal, seeking advice on the number and placement of questions for each level of the learning goal. Kyle and Jon shared their experiences, emphasizing the importance of assessing students’ levels consistently and accurately, and using that information to guide their learning and progress. They reassured Seth that experience would help in determining which standards need more attention.


    Planning for School Year and Improvement

    Seth discussed his plans for the upcoming school year, including creating a gamified grading system and preparing differentiated questions for his buckets. Kyle emphasized the importance of setting achievable goals, establishing a growth-oriented culture, and continuously learning for improvement. Seth agreed to reflect on his experiences as a first-time department leader and share his progress. Jon proposed incorporating regular assessments to adapt teaching methods, an idea that Seth found valuable and planned to implement in his classroom using humor and relatable examples.

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    00:00:00:03 – 00:00:18:07
    Seth Boschen
    I connect to that experience because it helps me connect to the experience that I’ve learned the last couple of years. Since you’ve come down on Acadian and been working with us and I’ve been doing that more and I just see it how much the kids there are attacking. They’re willing to. I’ll tell them, Look, I’m not going to show you anything.

    00:00:18:09 – 00:00:21:13
    Seth Boschen
    I’m giving you the problems. Go try it. And they go try it and they do it on their own.

    00:00:21:15 – 00:00:45:04
    Jon Orr
    I know that there was Seth Beauchesne from Katy, Texas, and in this episode of the Make Making Mouth Moment That Matter podcast, we dive into the transformative journey of Seth and on how he embarks on a new role, leading a team of teachers in his map department. So faced with the challenge of implementing standards based grading and integrating portfolios into his classes, Seth is here.

    00:00:45:04 – 00:01:21:01
    Jon Orr
    He shares his insights and experiences that will resonate with any educator looking to enhance student engagement and learning outcomes. Together, both Kyle and myself bring our wealth of knowledge to the table. We’re going to offer Seth practical advice on making the most out of limited class time and providing meaningful feedback and setting achievable goals. Whether you’re struggling to balance assessment with instruction or seeking to cultivate a growth oriented culture, this episode provides actionable strategies and encouragement to help you navigate the complexity of assessment.

    00:01:21:03 – 00:01:37:11
    Jon Orr
    In math class, here we go.

    00:01:37:13 – 00:01:41:18
    Kyle Pearce
    Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Peirce.

    00:01:41:18 – 00:01:44:17
    Jon Orr
    And I’m John or we are from exact moment.

    00:01:44:19 – 00:01:54:18
    Kyle Pearce
    This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six step plan to grow your mathematics program, whether it’s at the classroom level or at the district level.

    00:01:54:19 – 00:02:09:22
    Jon Orr
    And we do that by helping you cultivate in foster your mathematics program like strong, healthy and balanced SRI. So if you master the six parts of an effective mathematics program, the impact that you are going to have on your teachers, your students will grow and reach far and wide.

    00:02:09:24 – 00:02:24:10
    Kyle Pearce
    Every week you’ll get the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence and get back to enjoying the planning and facilitating of your mathematics program for the students or the educators that you serve.

    00:02:24:12 – 00:02:35:09
    Jon Orr
    Hey there, Seth. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. We are super excited to chat with you today and you’re coming from a place that we love to visit. You know, Katie practically.

    00:02:35:09 – 00:02:37:16
    Kyle Pearce
    Call home nowadays. You know, one.

    00:02:37:16 – 00:02:47:00
    Jon Orr
    Of the places when we travel, we’ve probably traveled there the most lately. So thanks for joining us. How are things going? Let us know where you’re teaching role is right now.

    00:02:47:02 – 00:03:06:03
    Seth Boschen
    Things are going well. I’m an eighth grade math teacher, and next year I’m going to be the department chair for my campus, for the math department. And that’s going to be a different role this year because they’ve trimmed down to instructional coaches. So there’s no instructional coach over math there. There are there’s two instruction coaches of math, but there’s no instructional coach with math, is there?

    00:03:06:03 – 00:03:20:18
    Seth Boschen
    Like Forte. So it’ll be the instruction. Coaches are more there for the instruction and I’ll be there more as the lead over to help them with the math content. So that’ll be a role I’ll be teaching, but also helping the teachers with the math content.

    00:03:20:20 – 00:03:46:11
    Kyle Pearce
    Got it. Got it. Very, very interesting. And you know, John and I both know that, yeah, there have been some changes in your school district. We’ve done a lot of work with the wonderful friends there at Katie, so there’s been a little bit of a reorg there. So I’m sure there’s a lot of people that are feeling the way you’re feeling right now, which is probably like excited, but maybe I’m going to guess maybe, Oh, what does that look like and sound like?

    00:03:46:11 – 00:04:04:05
    Kyle Pearce
    Because it’s a new structure and I’m going to extend that beyond Katie and say there’s probably a lot of other people out there who are dealing with similar things. Right. Every year, new changes, new roles. But before we dig into those weeds, we don’t want to forget this question. It is the question we ask every guest on the podcast.

    00:04:04:05 – 00:04:13:23
    Kyle Pearce
    And that is when you hear about math class or math in general, what is that math moment for you that sort of pops into your mind?

    00:04:14:00 – 00:04:36:15
    Seth Boschen
    So for me, my math is pretty the same as almost everyone, but I enjoyed math so much. So I just I love the way they teach it. I do it. And I was a great math person, but I had one math teacher who was different. He didn’t teach us at the board. He made us read the book ourselves, figure it out ourselves, and if we would come to with a question.

    00:04:36:15 – 00:04:52:23
    Seth Boschen
    His first question to us is, Have you read it? Have you read the chapter yet? So he wouldn’t give it to us. He would make us, even though it was a different way because he was having us read the book, which is kind of laid out for you. So I still kind of taught the same way, but you’re still having to go get it yourself.

    00:04:53:02 – 00:05:09:09
    Seth Boschen
    It was my geometry teacher. The I only remember him standing up in the room, maybe four or five times to teach us. And that was because he was teaching us how to construct proofs. But other than that, it was. It was the whole do it yourself. And I started the year and I struggled at the beginning and struggled for me.

    00:05:09:09 – 00:05:22:11
    Seth Boschen
    I was probably low nineties by the end of the year I was getting high nineties, like 90, 98, 99. So I came to really like the way he taught just because it forced me to have to do more of the digging myself.

    00:05:22:16 – 00:05:46:08
    Kyle Pearce
    So can I guess here for a second and say that I’m guessing like a lot of kids probably weren’t big fans of it, you know, at the time. Yeah. You know, like I know there was actually now you just reminded me there was an individual teacher early in my career who kind of did the same thing. And I remember and this was before my own math epiphany where I thought I was still doing this, like I was working way harder than the kids.

    00:05:46:13 – 00:06:08:11
    Kyle Pearce
    I was like, doing everything, trying to like, you know, make sure everybody got it. And it was like I was working overtime and this teacher was doing something very similar. And I remember at the time thinking like, man, he should like get up and do something and meet like, that’s the way I thought about it. But the more you think about it and who knows whether we could have did it better or not or whatever.

    00:06:08:13 – 00:06:28:04
    Kyle Pearce
    But like at the end of the day, when you like, look at what can be gained from some of those experiences, right? Even if one of the biggest pieces is the fact that I’m guessing you probably learn more about how you have a pretty big brain in there and that you could do a lot of things on your own if you really set your mind to it.

    00:06:28:04 – 00:06:43:12
    Kyle Pearce
    Like I’ve got to assume, like some of the kids that did the work probably came out with at least that skill of being able to see that. Like, you know, I can do this. I don’t have to like, sit here and wait for somebody to spoon feed me all this information.

    00:06:43:14 – 00:07:01:14
    Seth Boschen
    Yeah, no, I agree. And that’s why I think that I connect to that experience, because it helps me connect to the experience that I’ve learned the last couple of years. Since you’ve come on Acadian and been working with us and I’ve been doing that more and I just see it how much the kids there are attacking. They’re willing to.

    00:07:01:14 – 00:07:16:04
    Seth Boschen
    I’ll tell them, Look, I’m not going to show you anything. I’m giving you the problems. Go try it. And they go try it and they do it on their own. I know they can do it. And it’s just that they have to believe it. And once they believe it, they just go and it’s crazy. I, I love that aspect.

    00:07:16:04 – 00:07:16:20
    Seth Boschen
    It’s this way I teach.

    00:07:16:21 – 00:07:24:16
    Jon Orr
    It’s almost like there’s a fine line, right? Because when you described your teacher, I imagined this teacher just sitting at the desk. You come up and you’re like.

    00:07:24:16 – 00:07:28:02
    Kyle Pearce
    Eat up like you think and feed up like on the desk.

    00:07:28:04 – 00:07:46:06
    Jon Orr
    Like they had to put their book down, like they were reading a novel or something like that. It’s like, it’s like and then it’s like, yeah, go back and read it again. Like you just read it wrong. Like, do it again. There’s a fine line to the way I imagine what you describe there. And I think what you’re doing in your in your classroom, like I think you’re talking about like being less helpful is really important.

    00:07:46:06 – 00:08:01:05
    Jon Orr
    If we’re going to ask students to struggle and productively struggle through that process. But you said you’re thinking about it now, but give me a more of a snapshot of what does it mean, like when you that stuck with you and how does that translate into what you’re trying to do in your classroom?

    00:08:01:07 – 00:08:27:07
    Seth Boschen
    I don’t know. I know. I think probably I was never taught that way before. So I’ve always thought that it was kind of all my other teachers would always teach us how to do it and step by step and things like that. And he was the first teacher that didn’t do it that way. And I think I’ve come to appreciate it more because it forced us to build that forces to build a work ethic in ourselves that we didn’t know that we maybe had because like he was forcing us to figure it out.

    00:08:27:09 – 00:08:42:13
    Seth Boschen
    And so I like that he was also my computer science teacher because I came from a small town. So like he was my computer science and my math teacher. So was kind of interesting, but I found it to be a great way. And I think it probably helped you for college too, because you had to do a lot of that in college in terms of figuring it out yourself.

    00:08:42:13 – 00:08:59:24
    Kyle Pearce
    Sometimes I love it. I love it. Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And John, definitely I had that vision in my mind when I was curious where Seth was going to go. Like, was that like going to be a good experience or a bad one? And I, I appreciate the fact that, you know what? There’s so many different maybe styles out there.

    00:08:59:24 – 00:09:16:20
    Kyle Pearce
    And so, like, if you can find the best parts of every style and find a way to like, use it in an intentional way, you could do some pretty powerful things. And it sounds like that’s sort of what you’re trying to get out of your students here. Seth So before we go much deeper, let’s dig right in here, my friend.

    00:09:16:20 – 00:09:34:20
    Kyle Pearce
    It’s the end of the school year for you as we record this year, I’m guessing thinking ahead, we don’t know exactly what you want to chat about here, but we are curious what’s on your mind lately? What sort of pebble is kicking around in that shoe? Is it the new role? Is it something going on in your own classroom?

    00:09:34:22 – 00:09:39:20
    Kyle Pearce
    Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Tell us a little bit more about what you’re working through right now.

    00:09:39:22 – 00:10:01:13
    Seth Boschen
    So when I signed up, I signed up in May, my pebble was because I’ve been wanting to do standards based grading more. I have kind of transition hassle. My grades this year were standards based and half were kind of assessment based, which was not assessment based assignment slash assessment based. So because I’ve been working through the standards based grading, I wanted to go all in on standards based grading this year.

    00:10:01:15 – 00:10:22:23
    Seth Boschen
    And I’ve been going through your assessment through four growth force. And I really came to like the whole idea of portfolios. They’ve always said use portfolios. Don’t ever in my head to wrap my mind around how to use a portfolio in a math classroom. And your assessment for growth class kind of gave me an idea. Now I do have a few questions.

    00:10:22:23 – 00:10:48:14
    Seth Boschen
    That’s my pebble, is I don’t know how I want to attack the portfolio. And also my other pebble was I wanted to ask you about your a how you so you guys assess weekly, but you have a 75 minute course. You have a 75 minute class. Our classes are 45 minutes, but we haven’t for the whole year. And so I just wanted to pick your brain on how you think, because my thought process I kind of work through that is maybe do an assessment every other week.

    00:10:48:18 – 00:10:55:04
    Seth Boschen
    And then the the day that I have the week that I’m not assessing is the day that I do the return. And then they work on their portfolios for growth.

    00:10:55:10 – 00:10:57:04
    Kyle Pearce
    That’s what I like that a lot on that.

    00:10:57:06 – 00:10:57:19
    Seth Boschen
    So yeah.

    00:10:57:23 – 00:11:21:03
    Kyle Pearce
    Right out of the bag and maybe John, you might see something a little bit different here. But the positive I really like about that is that it gives you that opportunity to get that meaningful feedback back to them, whereas in our model where we were doing it kind of all at once, we were doing the assessment and then students as they were done, they would kind of move on to an area that they needed to work on.

    00:11:21:03 – 00:11:41:09
    Kyle Pearce
    So it provided them an opportunity, much like your math moment teacher did, where it was like, okay, now you need to go and review like what to work on. So there was something nice about that, but we didn’t have as much time to say, review what happened, say the previous week unless we were talking specifically to a specific student.

    00:11:41:09 – 00:12:01:23
    Kyle Pearce
    So I like that gap. The one challenge or I guess the one thing that I feel like I would lose if I could pick between the two, which you can’t. You’re stuck with whatever structure you have. But one thing that and John, I know if you’d agree with me on this, the part that I used to like about it was that there was always some students that took a little longer on that assessment, right?

    00:12:01:23 – 00:12:21:22
    Kyle Pearce
    So at the beginning of class, we’d have it and we’d try to only pick a handful of problems that were relevant, some that went back and reviewed, some old content, some that was more fresh and new. And it really allowed us to kind of get a sense of where things were. But it also didn’t limit a student like cut them off.

    00:12:21:22 – 00:12:44:23
    Kyle Pearce
    And that would be the one part that I would miss if I had to split it up across, say, 245 minute blocks instead of 175 minute, where you have that one student that likes to take an extra 50% of the time so they have less growth time to utilize, but they had more time to kind of think and work through the problems at their own pace and not feel so rushed.

    00:12:45:00 – 00:12:49:10
    Kyle Pearce
    John, what do you think? And when you hear that structure and maybe some of the pros and cons.

    00:12:49:12 – 00:13:11:21
    Jon Orr
    I like the structure and I think I like it differently than you like it, Kyle I like the fact that it’s spaced out and in 45 minutes I would feel like also the way that we structured those mini quizzes or mini assessments, those growth assessments that we were doing, and you would do it every other week, was that they weren’t these lengthy things that, you know, these are unit assessments, right?

    00:13:11:21 – 00:13:44:05
    Jon Orr
    They were checkpoints, they’re check ins. They’re like they’re almost like exit ticket kind of problems. You’re giving them a couple problems that, like you said, Kyle Span, what we did that week with a touch back to the week before and you got a sense of the flow of students working on those, seeing where they are and then part of the growth like the next week for you being like the next week is going to be that growth period where they’re working on going back and going, where am I on my learning goals right now and doing work on those learning goals?

    00:13:44:05 – 00:14:11:02
    Jon Orr
    Like, that’s the part where I think we learn where our students are needing the most support and where they are. I think there’s providing them that longer period that you’re concerned about. Kyle For 75 minutes to work on this kind of short assessment, I didn’t feel like too many were taking that entire time anyway, so it was like mostly we were done in because we were doing half the period on that, half the period on the growth.

    00:14:11:04 – 00:14:27:00
    Jon Orr
    But I mean, like I don’t think there was a ton taking longer than, say, 45 minutes to do that quick little snapshot because it’s really that’s what you want it to be, right? You want it to be a snapshot of where they are so that they’re like, this is where I am on my journey on this particular learning goal.

    00:14:27:02 – 00:14:45:15
    Jon Orr
    And then the real power is in that growth day where they’re like, Okay, this is where I was. Let me prove that I could do it better. Let me prove that I can grow on that strand or that learning goal and I’ll take time. I’ll take that 45 minutes like I like that, actually, 245 minutes. So that’s more than the time that we had in a sense, right?

    00:14:45:15 – 00:15:22:01
    Jon Orr
    Because now you got a whole 45 minutes to do the growth. I, I don’t know about you, Kyle, but I found that when I split the two days that if I designated 30 ish minutes for the quiz or the check in, we would just get into the growth and then we’d have to switch. And it was like, I wish I wanted more time for the growth, which means in sets case, if just going to flip flop every other week, you’ve got a good chunk of time to get into the growth part and that’s really where the change actually happens because they get back their quiz, they get back where they are, and now it’s like,

    00:15:22:01 – 00:15:28:00
    Jon Orr
    let’s make that better. And let’s spend 45 minutes working on past goals.

    00:15:28:00 – 00:15:47:07
    Kyle Pearce
    Yeah, I definitely would not try to do two in 145 minute period. Like I agree with you there, John. And actually I think hearing what you just said helped me to solve my own peple. If I was in sass shoes where if a student did maybe run out of time in that 45 minute block, like let’s say they were, you know, they just wanted a little more time.

    00:15:47:07 – 00:16:07:10
    Kyle Pearce
    Keeping in mind the whole purpose of that assessment is not about the quantity, it’s about them getting as far as they can. And then the next week, that individual student, we’d probably go, Hey, listen, try that one problem or a problem like it before moving on to whatever else I had in mind, Right. Just being a little more individualized.

    00:16:07:10 – 00:16:25:17
    Kyle Pearce
    So based on what you’re hearing there, when you think about your structure, how is that maybe landing with you? Is there any nuances there that you’re maybe concerned about, Or how do you feel about in terms of the basic structure anyway, in terms of what that might look like and sound like for you?

    00:16:25:19 – 00:16:42:00
    Seth Boschen
    Basic structure when I was going through your course and because that was one big question, I didn’t know how many minutes you hadn’t been in the course. You said you get 75 minutes. So I was like, okay, they’re doing everything in one day and you kind of broke it down. Like, I could split this into two. And I’ve been doing so this year.

    00:16:42:00 – 00:17:03:22
    Seth Boschen
    I’ve used your assessment format not for our main assessments because our main assessments are they’re longer and I’m going to try to switch that a little bit this year and do shorter assessments. The problem is our assessments all have to be the same along all the teachers, so that’s a harder challenge. In my class, we were our assessments had to be a common there’s at least one other teacher and sometimes another teacher that does an assessment.

    00:17:03:22 – 00:17:06:13
    Seth Boschen
    So if they’re not on board with all that, some of our I.

    00:17:06:13 – 00:17:09:01
    Jon Orr
    Thought I heard him say he was going to be the department head.

    00:17:09:02 – 00:17:12:16
    Seth Boschen
    I am.

    00:17:12:18 – 00:17:15:06
    Kyle Pearce
    You wrote me. Yes. Opportunity.

    00:17:15:06 – 00:17:37:05
    Seth Boschen
    Yes, you’re right. That’s why I’m going to try and see if they’re on board. I’ve already talked to one and she seems on board for the more frequent but shorter assessments. So but I did dabble with your testing this year as like my formative assessments in between before the big assessments. And I also had growth days, but the growth days were I didn’t like them because the kids loved them.

    00:17:37:05 – 00:17:55:04
    Seth Boschen
    Actually, the kids loved the growth days because we did we were able to pull small groups. So they will work with them. But I didn’t like after they were done with correcting, that was what they were doing, because what they were doing after was I just had another assignment for them, which was not really like I didn’t really feel like that was benefiting the kids.

    00:17:55:04 – 00:17:59:20
    Kyle Pearce
    Yeah, I was going to say maybe not as intentional as you would have liked if you.

    00:17:59:22 – 00:18:11:01
    Seth Boschen
    That’s where the portfolio is coming. And that’s why when all that you got the portfolio I want to do like you do, which is once they correct their quiz, now they go work on something that they need to work on. So it’s now theirs.

    00:18:11:01 – 00:18:30:16
    Kyle Pearce
    So I was going to say, Seth, that like something that we found really helpful, but this will take time to build. And also if you can do it in numbers. So with your group, the first thought I had you going through the assessment for growth course, maybe you going and spending a little bit of time over the next.

    00:18:30:16 – 00:18:55:05
    Kyle Pearce
    Oh, I don’t know. Today. No, I’m just getting. But whenever you take this time going through and trying to handpick maybe little parts of the course and because Katie and Katie is a district partner with us, everyone in your school district has access to that course, which also means that your department does as well. And my thought is not necessarily here’s the hard thing.

    00:18:55:05 – 00:19:22:14
    Kyle Pearce
    As you wear this leader hat, you’re going to put this new title on or this new hat on. And I can already tell that you’re probably already sort of somewhat of a leader in the building, whether there was a name or not attached to it. The reality is, is that you might not have everybody on your team willing to do an entire course, let’s say, over the summer, but you might be able to get them to take a peek at like one of the short lessons.

    00:19:22:14 – 00:19:51:06
    Kyle Pearce
    Right. So maybe there’s like a lesson there. Maybe it’s the lesson that sort of puts you over the tipping point that kind of made you kind of lean in a little bit, like you already knew about standards based grading. And you probably went into this course sort of expecting to get what you’re getting, which is great. But for somebody else that may not be in the same place, it’s like, what can I pluck out of there and maybe send as just like, and here’s the hard part is like, you’ll never know if they actually do it or not.

    00:19:51:06 – 00:20:08:02
    Kyle Pearce
    And that’s okay. But like, you can send this off and be like, Hey, this is an eight minute, you know, lesson or it’s a 12 minute lesson or whatever it is. The part I really think you’d like is around the five minute mark. Give it a shot. Let me know what you think or whatever. Get that conversation started.

    00:20:08:02 – 00:20:31:02
    Kyle Pearce
    And as that summer goes on and as you start breadcrumb ing, it is what we call it is like you breadcrumb them along a little bit to hopefully get a little bit of people more interested in this idea. One of the best and most important parts over time is if you can all work together to kind of have what we call like little standards buckets, if that makes sense.

    00:20:31:02 – 00:20:58:06
    Kyle Pearce
    So like John and I would have, hey, we were going to work on these, let’s say, for standards to start the year. We were going to kind of work on those and then we slowly add more standards to it as that happens. If I could provide some different problems that are connected to these standards and we used to put them out, you know, whether you want to call it depth of knowledge or whether you wanted to call them more thinking type problems versus more entry level, however you want.

    00:20:58:06 – 00:21:22:14
    Kyle Pearce
    Spicy and hot sometimes people call it and warm. You have these options there for kids so that at the end that they know. It’s like if I am working on this standard, the one thing that is much harder to do is to get kids to go find an applicable problem to work on related to that specific issue, rather than being able to say, go to that bucket, that folder.

    00:21:22:14 – 00:21:25:23
    Kyle Pearce
    Ours was digital at the time. We used to have like a digital I’ve.

    00:21:25:23 – 00:21:39:10
    Jon Orr
    Done it with folders, so kind of like in the old days when my very first few years of teaching just folders on the wall and there was pages in there that had like next steps for spicy or medium, but I didn’t call it back that back then.

    00:21:39:12 – 00:21:59:01
    Kyle Pearce
    So there’s a little bit of work to be done there, but it can be one of those things like if you use this next school year and you use the entire year as building this system so that hopefully next year the system’s kind of coming together, like don’t spend every waking moment on summer vacation putting all of this together.

    00:21:59:01 – 00:22:16:12
    Kyle Pearce
    But imagine if certain buckets have things in them and you just slowly add as you go and imagine if you got a couple of people in your department kind of helping like John and I worked together and we were in different districts because we were both teaching the same thing with the same mindset at the same time.

    00:22:16:14 – 00:22:34:02
    Jon Orr
    Well, also, we built it through the year too. It’s like I know that we didn’t say build all the standards at the beginning of the year, even though you knew which ones you needed to touch on because it’s part of the course, but you knew which ones were coming up in the next unit and you would, you know, we would prepare and go like, what is it?

    00:22:34:02 – 00:22:54:06
    Jon Orr
    Okay, So if I’m going to assess on this standard what is like beginning, middle, end of that journey look like, how do I know what problem or what look for is do I am I looking for on a students work if they’re at the top end, the middle end, you know, the starting end so that you have these things ready to go but you would prep those as you went throughout the years.

    00:22:54:06 – 00:23:11:00
    Jon Orr
    So it’s not as a meaningful or a manageable amount of prep time. It wasn’t like, oh, I need to prep all of these standards. It was, Hey, with the unit coming up or what’s the strand that we’re working on? Let me prep that as we go or let me prep it before we start so that it’s there ready to go.

    00:23:11:00 – 00:23:37:07
    Jon Orr
    Then it becomes a manageable amount because like when you think about the portfolio, I was like the way that we evolved those portfolios as well is that once the say, we wanted to have that portfolio available throughout, working in that unit. So it was always like we were working ahead by one unit in a way to go, okay, let’s have that portfolio ready to go when we start the unit so that those tasks are set up for kids to sink their teeth into.

    00:23:37:09 – 00:23:43:21
    Jon Orr
    Once we’ve like unlocked whatever standard we were working on that week, if that makes sense.

    00:23:43:23 – 00:24:02:11
    Seth Boschen
    But it actually goes to my next question because I’ve been working on trying to build. I built some like Bank of Questions for the first learning goal that I’ve created, and that’s one one of the ones that we hit in the first cluster of topics. But I only had so I have it tiered. I have three. I don’t know, that’s where I was going.

    00:24:02:13 – 00:24:21:05
    Seth Boschen
    I have I have right now level two, three, four, five, which I could change to the word. So I’m not talking about the level two, three, four, because that was in your gamifying grading. You mentioned like when they saw three stars, some kids would just stop. So you just did colors, which I thought was really cool. So I didn’t know how to word them, which I could word them.

    00:24:21:07 – 00:24:34:11
    Seth Boschen
    Like you said, medium mild and spicy. But right now I have one question for each level. One of the question I was going to ask you is and that was one of my questions, do you have a bag of extras? How many at each level did you guys have?

    00:24:34:13 – 00:24:39:21
    Kyle Pearce
    That’s a good question. Well, I’ll tell you, the first time around, not many.

    00:24:39:23 – 00:24:40:23
    Seth Boschen
    But as you can.

    00:24:41:00 – 00:24:58:19
    Kyle Pearce
    And the reason I say that, because what we ended up with, because we did teach in one case in particular, one course that we tended to teach a lot and we really enjoyed teaching this course. So we would request it and you end up getting a bunch over time. You’re like, Oh, this one would be, you know what I mean?

    00:24:58:19 – 00:25:22:18
    Kyle Pearce
    You’ll see a question and you go, That’s perfect for, you know, a really challenging problem for this one, because there would be some standards here. We call them expectations. You go, you know, like, I don’t really have anything like kind of thought provoking or like something to push students maybe further. Like I you know, in certain buckets you’re going to feel that way and it’s not going to be perfect at first.

    00:25:22:20 – 00:25:43:09
    Kyle Pearce
    But the more you you know, what I found extremely helpful for us, which was one of the only times I think, that I felt standardized testing was helpful, was we used to have a standardized test in that course in that grade, and there used to be all the practice materials. So some of those materials would be really great questions, right?

    00:25:43:09 – 00:26:14:16
    Kyle Pearce
    And it almost gave us like, wow, like I was like I never appreciated how good of a question this was and how it related to these two different topics is two different concepts. Two different strands, like I could put them in in both of these buckets and I could work that through. So trying to be creative on where you might find some of these problems, like you probably will have some old maybe textbooks or things like that that might have some really good problems that maybe used to get assigned as homework and you can slip those in there as well.

    00:26:14:16 – 00:26:38:17
    Kyle Pearce
    Like it’s not being unique is not cool in this world in that particular game. It’s more or less about having an opportunity for a student to kind of remove the barrier for them to get a little better with a concept, you know, So it will start and you’ll feel like it’s a little thin. But again, you kind of focus on that first maybe two weeks of school and you go, Do I have enough to help students?

    00:26:38:17 – 00:26:58:08
    Kyle Pearce
    When we do that first improvement day, that first work period, is there enough there to keep them working and keep them productive? Yeah. Okay, good. And then you can start looking to the next ones. But try not to feel like you’ve got to have it fully taken care of for the entire school year all upfront.

    00:26:58:10 – 00:27:24:02
    Jon Orr
    And remember to keep in mind that the, the reason that you’re say building this let’s call it like a bank up is what you’re looking for. And this is the important part is to know what you’re looking for from a student to say you’re here and this on this standard right now. So if I’m putting you at like orange or three stars or level four, you know what that looks like.

    00:27:24:02 – 00:27:54:24
    Jon Orr
    You’ve got that confidence that, yeah, you have demonstrated that consistently and therefore I can check you off on. Yeah, I feel like consistently you’re doing that level on that standard and now you’re ready for the next level knowing that not only will help you pick and choose questions, but it also will realize going, What do I need to keep seeing from this student to let them go or ask them to go to the next level because we don’t want to just go.

    00:27:54:24 – 00:28:19:05
    Jon Orr
    It’s two questions. And if I solve these two questions and then it’s like, well, sometimes I had to help them on those two questions to get there. And then now I need more questions. So it’s like knowing when you feel confident that they’ve hit the level three or the level four is really important because like, there’s nothing stopping you from going like, you know what, I helped you get to this point, and I’m just not confident that you’re at the level four.

    00:28:19:05 – 00:28:58:22
    Jon Orr
    But what do I do now to help them or show that consistency that you’re at that level? Okay. Let’s go grab another question from like all of a sudden, you now know I need to put something else in front of them to convince myself and to have the professional judgment around the student to go, This is where you are, because that’s where the point of the standards based grading is, is to continually go, where is this student on the learning goal and what can I do to help them get to the next level and then also be convinced that they understand, know and can do that, say standard consistently performing at that level.

    00:28:58:22 – 00:29:13:14
    Jon Orr
    So that’s the really important work is to be able to go, Yep, you’re here because of this, this and this. And I’ve seen it, I witnessed it, I’ve observed it, I’ve had conversations with you. I feel confident you’re here and you can move on to the next level. So that’s the real important part to kind of focus on.

    00:29:13:16 – 00:29:21:23
    Jon Orr
    And then that will allow you to kind of like pick and choose when you’re ready to do it. You could do that on the fly because you’ve got that understanding of what that looks like.

    00:29:22:00 – 00:29:38:16
    Seth Boschen
    Helps a lot because I created this and I created one question for each level. I’m like, I don’t know if that’s enough because what if the kid doesn’t get it right? Didn’t they correct it? Now I need something else for them to show me that they got it. So I need a few more questions, at least for each topic in my banks that I that I’ve graded.

    00:29:38:16 – 00:30:13:11
    Kyle Pearce
    And don’t stress about. Some of this is going to happen on the fly, and I think true learning because you’re not going to be able to predict everything and nor is there enough time in a day or anything like that, nor are we smart enough. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, how it’s going to unravel. But as you go, it’s like if you get yourself a nice little baseline to go and you’re starting this process and you’re going to notice it’s like certain topics are going or requires the wrong word, but certain topics could use more options, right?

    00:30:13:11 – 00:30:32:18
    Kyle Pearce
    It’s like kids are struggling on this topic and some of these topics you already know. If you’ve taught this material before you go around here, the students tend to struggle in this area. It’s like, I want to make sure I’m like thickening that one up, that area, that topic, that standard, maybe more so than this other standard. Maybe there’s a standard that you’re like, you know what?

    00:30:32:20 – 00:30:40:14
    Kyle Pearce
    It’s not actually like a key understanding here that, you know what, I’m not going to stress about having five versions of it. Right. You know, you’ve.

    00:30:40:14 – 00:30:59:12
    Jon Orr
    Witnessed from the classroom experience that everyone’s doing really well on that standard and you don’t realize, you know, and there let’s say that everyone got to like a two or a three just from the consistency because you know what two or three looks like and you’ve witnessed it over time and they’re like, I don’t need a question on to because I feel like everyone’s there already.

    00:30:59:14 – 00:31:09:09
    Jon Orr
    And then now I just need three, you know, the next whatever the next level up is. So sometimes, like that in time experience will help kind of develop kind of like what you need to pull.

    00:31:09:11 – 00:31:17:20
    Seth Boschen
    And I was thinking that was some of the easier standards. I don’t know if I need a level two because kids are most of the time they’re there is the upper ones that they would need in those. Right.

    00:31:17:22 – 00:31:34:22
    Jon Orr
    Right. Seth, based on the conversation here today, what’s your immediate next step? Thinking about what you’re going to do to implement some of the things we talked about here today, or maybe it’s something different that you’re going to try in the classroom. I know it’s in your off right now, but going back like, what do you think is something that you’re going to do right away?

    00:31:34:24 – 00:31:53:19
    Seth Boschen
    So my biggest thing and I’ve started this is working on different questions for my buckets, like just putting those in. And I’m also a football coach, so like starting the year for me, I don’t have a lot of time like to be. So for me, I like to try to get a lot of the legwork done if I can, in the summer.

    00:31:53:19 – 00:32:17:04
    Seth Boschen
    So that way when football season starts, I’m not running around. You’re exactly, exactly right. So my goal, I think I’m going to try to at least get a couple of questions for each standard done this summer. And I also I haven’t I’m still trying to figure out how to do the whole gamifying grading. I want to try to because it’s the first great thing that you guys shared and there is really cool, but I really want to use the Google.

    00:32:17:04 – 00:32:27:18
    Seth Boschen
    I’m going to try to sell you how to use the Google sheets to do that. So I need to work on getting the gamified grading set up and getting the standards of buckets kind of set up. I’ve already got.

    00:32:27:21 – 00:32:29:11
    Jon Orr
    Don’t do too much. Don’t do too much.

    00:32:29:11 – 00:32:31:02
    Seth Boschen
    Yo yo. Yeah, I know, I know.

    00:32:31:02 – 00:32:58:06
    Kyle Pearce
    Yeah. But I like it. And I think, you know, what with you’re thinking here and thinking ahead and knowing what fall is like with football season, it’s a great idea to like, as long as you don’t put too much pressure during the summer on yourself. Right? But you set yourself some mini goals and go, you know, I’d like to have a certain amount done so that you just feel like you’ve got a good solid start.

    00:32:58:06 – 00:33:12:14
    Kyle Pearce
    That’s kind of the goal. Just make sure it’s not about being perfect coming in because of course you could spend the whole summer and try to make the perfect program. And guess what? You’re going to find out after a few weeks. You’re like, It’s not perfect. I want to yeah, I want to tweak this and I want to treat that.

    00:33:12:16 – 00:33:38:24
    Kyle Pearce
    So you know what, though? Getting yourself that foundation. I like that plan. I really do. And I while I would say the gamifying keep that in the back of your mind and I would say there might be an epiphany you have right in the summer you go this is how I’m going to do it. Great. But don’t dwell on it because what you’re going to find is that by giving students the opportunity to improve, of course you’re not going to get 100% buy in right away from students.

    00:33:38:24 – 00:34:00:00
    Kyle Pearce
    It’s going to take time, just like any changes that you make. But by getting that started, that’s the most important part. The most important part is being able to give students having that clear message at the beginning of the school year that this class is about growth and that you’re going to have opportunities. And I’m going to guess that’s probably the same on a football team, right?

    00:34:00:00 – 00:34:25:19
    Kyle Pearce
    I coach baseball, I coach hockey. You are going to play to where you improve. Like if you improve, you’re going to get the playing time. It’s not like in the same should be true in a math classroom. So I’m going to give you every opportunity to keep getting better and you’re setting up a program that’s going to allow for that sort of culture in your math classroom to kind of evolve and some of the other bells and whistles that you’ll throw in there.

    00:34:25:20 – 00:34:46:17
    Kyle Pearce
    They’ll be fun, they’ll be great. They’ll help with maybe that handful of kids that haven’t fully bought in yet. But the main thing is what you’re working on right now. So just stay the course, set yourself some measurable goals for yourself to go, Hey, I want to have X, Y, and Z done before the school year starts. And the final thing is give yourself grace.

    00:34:46:19 – 00:34:55:18
    Kyle Pearce
    It’s not going to go perfect the first time, but it like you’re on the right path and you’re going to see some really, really great things happen from it.

    00:34:55:20 – 00:35:11:11
    Jon Orr
    Awesome stuff. Seth, we want to thank you for joining us here on the Big Math Moments That Matter podcast. Would you be open to checking in as the school and wait maybe when football’s over, when things are kind of settling down and seeing how you know where you are on this assignment this.

    00:35:11:11 – 00:35:14:13
    Kyle Pearce
    Time next year? John We can’t let them have the full the full year.

    00:35:14:13 – 00:35:17:00
    Jon Orr
    I think we’ll have to see how things are going.

    00:35:17:02 – 00:35:29:16
    Seth Boschen
    Yeah, No, I definitely agree. We definitely get to share reflect on being the leader of the department because it’s my first time doing that. Plus also throwing in the portfolios. It will be I can check in with all of that stuff.

    00:35:29:18 – 00:35:47:05
    Kyle Pearce
    I love it. I love it. That’s great. Seth It’s awesome. Always connecting with our friends from Katy, Texas, and I hope you have an awesome summer. Don’t work too hard, but I do appreciate it and I know the kids are going to appreciate the time and effort you’re putting in here and we look forward to catching up with you sometime in the next school year.

    00:35:47:07 – 00:35:48:14
    Seth Boschen
    Okay, sounds good. Thank you.

    00:35:48:14 – 00:35:51:04
    Kyle Pearce
    All right, my friends. Thank you.

    00:35:51:05 – 00:36:13:19
    Jon Orr
    All right. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Seth. And like you heard in the episode, Kyle and I have been working closely alongside the team over in Katy, Texas. And Seth was part of the teachers that were led by that team. And we’ve done some deep work in what math class structure should look like, but also what assessments should look like.

    00:36:13:19 – 00:36:35:15
    Jon Orr
    And then when I think about Seth’s journey, we think about the six areas of an effective classroom tree assessment for us falls in the branches state of things, which is kind of like the pedagogical moves, like the content knowledge moves, which means like we think of them as teacher moves because there are teacher moves that we’re making decisions on to inform our instruction.

    00:36:35:15 – 00:37:07:10
    Jon Orr
    We want to use our assessment, former instruction and Seth is on an assessment journey here, like many teachers are, because that especially you start to shift their classroom instruction. That’s a natural shift to say, if I’m going to shift my instruction in class, a lot of times what happens is our current assessment practices, our grading practices aren’t lining up with what we’re doing in the classroom, and we have to start asking questions about what do we want to start seeing and how do I want to maybe reshape what this assessment could look like.

    00:37:07:10 – 00:37:26:05
    Jon Orr
    And in this episode we talked about specifically what Kyle and I used to do in our classes once we made those shifts and how that could be applied to portfolios, but also growth days. And Seth is kind of on that journey here. And you want to ask yourself like, what is your assessment beliefs and practices in your classroom?

    00:37:26:05 – 00:37:48:14
    Jon Orr
    Are you focused on assessment for growth or are you assessing in the way that your district is saying is, first, you know that you need to assess, and is that the best approach for your students? This is a question that you always have to ask yourself, because I know Seth at his district, they had strict policies on about when grades are due and when grades needed to be calculated and how it would be calculated.

    00:37:48:14 – 00:38:09:24
    Jon Orr
    But I know that after working with him and inside his district, there’s some flexibility within some rigid ness and you want to kind of figure out what is the flexibility you have to and then aim that flexibility towards the goals that you have, the growth that you want to see for your students. In this case. So those are the things you want to be asking yourself.

    00:38:09:24 – 00:38:36:19
    Jon Orr
    And if this is the first time you’ve listened to an episode, we want to welcome you here and hit that subscribe or follow button and we put out new episodes every Monday morning. You will find they make math moments that Matter podcast in your I guess not your inbox but like top of your list. When you look at new episodes, if you’ve listened to before or if you’ve listened to a few episodes before, then if you haven’t not yet, hit that subscribe or that rating and review button, please do that.

    00:38:36:21 – 00:39:01:16
    Jon Orr
    It helps other teachers find the show and use the resources, the ideas, the suggestions, the strategies that we share every week to change their classroom instruction. They’re there classroom experience for their students. All the show notes and links to this particular episode can be found over at Make map moments dot com for each episode to 92. That’s MC math moments dot com this episode to 92.

    00:39:01:18 – 00:39:06:20
    Kyle Pearce
    All right their math moment makers until next time I’m Kyle Pierce.

    00:39:06:20 – 00:39:07:21
    Jon Orr
    And I’m Jon or.

    00:39:07:21 – 00:39:08:22
    Kyle Pearce
    High fives for.

    00:39:08:22 – 00:39:13:22
    Jon Orr
    Us and a high bar for you. Oh.

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    The Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast with Kyle Pearce & Jon Orr
    Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building a math classroom that you wish you were in.


    Download the 2-page printable 3 Act Math Tip Sheet to ensure that you have the best start to your journey using 3 Act math Tasks to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in your math classroom!

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    These prompts are given each lesson with the following conditions:

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