August 27, 2015

Math Practice Standard Portfolios

At our standards based grading implementation meeting the teacher working with us from the charter school asked about how we wanted to include the CCSSM Standards of Mathematical Practice. At the time we weren't sure but I've done some more thinking:

Last year I asked PreCalc kids to journal sometimes on which one they'd used that day. They referred to posters I have in the back of the room to choose one. I never asked Algebra 1 kids to do the same, but they're fully capable of it.

While I want to assess them, because they're important, I don't want to require every kid to use the same practice on a single assignment (because that's not the point). However, assessing students on whatever standard(s) they do use sounds like a logistical nightmare, especially since we aren't due to get an SBG friendly online grading system until second semester at the earliest.

Instead, what if I made the kids keep track? Basically, a portfolio! Kids would get the sheet below early on in the year and I'd tell them that they will need to find four good examples in their work of how they used the mathematical practices each quarter. That makes sixteen examples, two per standard. I could check their binders mid-quarter and near the end of quarter (providing enough time for revisions before report cards) and give them one SMP score based on the quality of their examples and explanations.

Reviewing my student friendly phrases, I feel like the modeling standard should include something about interpreting in context. Do the rest seem sufficiently clear?

I wanted to make this fit on a single sheet front and back but I also want them to write a decent explanation. Maybe we should do one example of each per semester? It would still be four per quarter but that way I could give them one sheet for each semester which means more room to write. And that way they can't leave all the seeing structure examples until fourth quarter when they may not have two good examples of it. A possible alternate handout:

Have you done this with your students? How did it work? I'm still not entirely clear on what the evidence should look like. How would you make the reflection meaningful? Can you edit the following invented student responses to make them better? I'm definitely going to need some quality examples make this a valuable venture.

"You can see I persevered in this problem because I tried three different equations before finding one that worked. I highlighted all three trials and boxed my final answer. My final equation is the one that makes sense because ____."

"In this problem I made a table and a graph. I found the pattern in the table which helped me to identify the slope of my line. I labeled the y-distances in green and the x-distances in blue on the table and the graph. In the original problem that slope means ____."


  1. I really like this idea, Tina. Thank you for sharing it. I've had my students write journal reflections on using the practices, but I like that your students will end up reflecting on each of the practices at least twice during the year. The journal reflections have given me much insight to what my students have learned and how they have learned it.

    1. Thanks for sharing your kids' examples, they're really helpful as I try to imagine what sorts of things my kids could write.

  2. I think that @jacehan has done something similar. He blogged about it at I will also be starting this kind of portfolio of math practices this year, but ours are not Common Core, so not sure if that would be helpful to you, but I'll definitely post some examples once kids complete a few. Mine will also ask kids to rate themselves on each practice (there will be language on the rubric describing each possible level of mastery achieved) and give themselves feedback on how to improve.

    1. Please do share what you and your kids come up with! I look forward to figuring this out.