Thursday, 6 October 2016

Don't Just Assess the Answer, Assess the Learner

This year I am wanting to not only assess students knowledge and conceptual understanding about maths, but I also want to assess them as maths learners. The learner profile attributes and attitudes provide a wonderful base to start from. 

For my 2nd Grade students I really only want to focus on the learner profile attributes and just used the language of the attitudes in my instruction. I don't want to overload them with jargon, especially as most are ELLs. 

After building classroom maths norms (based around the learner profile attributes), I then decided that assessing students attitudes towards maths should be just as important as assessing their answers. 

Students attitudes towards maths in my opinion is far more important than whether or not they get the answer correct. Of course the answer matters, but so to does how they got there. 

We can observe and ask many question about our maths learners. 

Can students persist in their learning (Commitment)?
Can they ask questions (Inquirers)? 
Can students communicate their knowledge?
Can students demonstrate their thinking (Communicator)?
Can students challenge themselves to make mistakes (Courageous)?
Can students solve problems in different ways (Thinkers)?
Do students understand where they are at in their learning (Knowledgeable)?
Do students think about the problems they are solving (Reflective)?

After reading research documents from the likes of Peter Sullivan and learning from a recent PD with Rebecca Clements, I am now trying to implement more time for students to reflect on their learning. 

I have also started to use Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development'. I made up 'stress' charts to give to students and incorporated the learner profile attributes in the 'stretch zone' to help students express their learning. This worked really well even after the first lesson. Students loved expressing how the questions made them feel. It allowed them to think about their learning and to make decisions based on whether or not they felt challenged. 

Below are some examples of kids reflections. For their first attempt I was pleased with their responses. It told me a lot about them as maths learners. 

Sometimes tiredness wins out! A challenge to get her to love maths!

 Great to hear the language "comfort zone"

"I felt courageous because I made many mistakes"



My Goals: To assess students as complete maths learners in terms of knowledge and skills, but also attitudes and attributes.

1. Read their reflections
2. Assess their strategies
3. Assess their number sense (knowledge) 
4. Provide self assessments based on the learner profile attributes.
5. Observe them demonstrating these qualities in my lessons. 


  1. Hi Taylor Is it possible to have a copy of the Maths Reflection sheet that is inside the cover of their journal? Thanks

  2. Hi Joy

    Sure no problem! Send me a message via twitter and I can email it to you.


  3. Excited to try this out! Thanks for the resources.