Managing Calibration Quizzes

One of my goals for this year is to use the idea from Make It Stick of giving many short quizzes (I don’t think I can handle daily, but maybe 2-3 times per week), but I don’t want it to turn into a paper/recording nightmare. So here’s my idea:

1) Make them easy to grade–just for wrong/right answers–and have students grade them.

2) Call them “calibrations” because we want students to use them to calibrate their knowledge–are they headed in the right direction, or do they need to refocus on a certain topic?

3) I want them to be able to drop their lowest scores, but I also want to put grades in for them every three weeks or so. So this is what I’m thinking:

calibration record(file here) I’m thinking making each calibration worth 4 points. 4 quick probs at 1 point each or 2 probs at 2 points each, depending on the topic. Students would grade their own and record their grade. Every three weeks, take the top 6 grades and record them and the sum. I collect them, record them, and return them (or go around the room and record while they are working on something else). Then after the next round, they take the top six of any unused grades and use those as their score.  Repeat again. At the final tally, they can also use any unused score to replace a previous lower one.  Also NO MAKE UPS. Because I HATE MAKE UPS WITH THE FORCE OF A THOUSAND SUNS.

Sure, they could probably figure out a way to cheat, but really, “they’re just cheating themselves.” Maybe make them do all of the quizzes on the same sheet of paper and have them turn it in with their calibration?

Hmmm, I’d also like to know how they did on these, though. Ooh, maybe I can bring in Plickers and have them hold up an “answer” corresponding to their points they made on the calibration?

4) I listened to the mathedout podcast featuring Jo Boaler and one thing that stood out was that you don’t have to give feedback to every student every time. So I’m thinking at least once a week one of the quizzes will be one longer problem. I collect 1 paper from a group member and write feedback. I return it to the group member and the rest of the group uses that feedback to discuss how they did on it. Or should I make that a group quiz if I’m going to do that?

So much to ponder!  Please leave a comment or tweet out any suggestions or pitfalls you can see in my plan.

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2 comments on “Managing Calibration Quizzes

  1. I like calling the quizzes “calibrations” because it definitely lowers the stakes of the assessments, as well as providing a continual reminder to students that assessments are information for themselves and the teacher to use for future learning. The name (and a short explanation) might also deter cheating of any kind if you explain to students that cheating in this small assessment will be self-evident if future assessment scores or if teacher-scored calibrations do not align with a student’s reported trend of perfection. Grades also provide an external motivator to continuously try on the calibrations, but the process of dropping scores an updating grades might need multiple reminders before the practice is commonplace. I like the element of choice students have in building their grades as the nine weeks unfold.

    In addition to math problems, I suggest making some calibrations more reflective in nature. For instance, maybe after an introductory day on logarithms a calibration could be simple questions like, “How is a logarithm related to an exponent? How are they similar? How are they different?” The scoring for these calibrations would have to be a little more flexible, but perhaps these kinds of questions could be a springboard for group discussion. After students answer the questions independently, the teacher asks for groups to compare answers for a couple minutes before bringing the class together to come up with a crowdsourced best answer. The arrangement would provide instant informal data for the teacher to decide where to start with the activities for the day.

    P.S. I started reading Make It Stick after you mentioned it the other week. It’s been a great wrap to my summer reading! Thanks!

    • Hey Tom, thanks for the thoughtful feedback. I like the idea of crowd sourcing big ideas…would also be a good way to practice elaboration (as you’ll read in Make It Stick). I also want to do the same idea at the beginning of unit…how do these problems look the same/different as previous? Maybe I can handle daily calibration if I mix it up like this!

      I was trying to make the drop lowest score thing as painless as possible, but you’re right, it’s going to take some training!
      Thanks again for the feedback! Hope Make It Stick loves up to the hype!

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