Fork in the Road: Intermediate to Senior Mathematics

When students transition from grade  10 to 11, they have opportunities to specialize in what they would like to study. This transition may be difficult for students who are not used to having much choice in the courses they select. In order for students to successfully transition from the fairly regimented intermediate grades to the more flexible senior grades, they will need guidance. Teachers, parents and students need to be equal partners in the planning process.

Teacher collaboration in supporting students through transition periods

For students going from grade 10 to grade 11, there are many directions they can go. Applied students will be able to choose College or Workplace Math, while Academic students will be able to choose University or University/College math.

Intermediate teachers should have discussions with Senior teachers, department heads as well as guidance teachers regarding course selection. Intermediate teachers can relay information to students before the course selection window so that students can think deeply about what course they decide to take the following year.

Opportunities for self-advocacy from students and their parents

With the information from senior-level, guidance and head teachers, students and parents should be advised on the pathways that are possible in mathematics (retrieved from OAME:

OAME’s¬†Possible Math Pathways

These pathways are not definitive, but represent a common flow from one course to the next. Students, parents and teachers should discuss the implications of taking these courses on college and university admissions. This is the time when a student should start considering possible post-secondary avenues.

There is still time after grade 10 to change, but it will require a lot more work from the student. If the student and parents are made aware of this early, the student has an increased chance of graduating on time and entering their desired post-secondary institution as soon as possible.

How do you assist students with the transition from grade 10 to grade 11 mathematics? Please share your story in the comments.

Evidence of Learning With Informal Assessment

Most of the informal assessments will include projects and presentations and discussions. Overall, there will be three aspects of evidence of learning:

In order to gather valid evidence of learning, the conversations, observations and products should be derived from multiple and varied assessment opportunities:

Teachers should use formal assessment measures to gather evidence of learning, because it is important to be exposed to various norm, criterion and standardized tests. Higher education still uses these methods whether they are effective or not, so we owe it to students to teach them how to effectively write these tests and learn from them.

However, it is important that teachers use informal methods of assessment to evaluate student learning. Life beyond higher education is not going to be a standardized test. Students will eventually be required to create products individually and collaboratively in the workplace.

Here is an example of how a teacher can use informal assessment methods to guide student learning and prepare them for the future:

In MFM2P, students learn about applications of the quadratic form     ax^2+bx+c = 0. For a rich informal assessment, students can be asked to sketch and create structures that use parabolas in their design. They can then present their project and explain the mathematics involved in their design and product.

A teacher can assess the students in a variety of ways. A checklist can be used to ensure the student is progressing appropriately. Ongoing observations can be used to guide student-teacher in-person conferences or journaling. At the end, Peer/Self assessments can be administered to guide a final rubric. This rubric can be used to evaluate the four domains of achievement (Knowledge/Understanding, Thinking, Communication and Application). The finished notes and product (take photos of physical models) can be added to the student’s portfolio.

The informal assessments do not exist well as standalone assessments. Combining them using a rich task is an effective way to ensure that students are being assessed based on valid and reliable conversations, observations and products.