Building Confidence in Students with Timed Assignments

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A persistent challenge for classroom teachers is timing, there’s never enough of it!  You may think that timed assignments can increase math anxiety, but using a timer in your classroom can actually increase math performance in your students. When exposing your students to a timed setting, you have an opportunity to understand how confident your students are with the material and  prepare them for the numerous timed settings in which they will have to demonstrate their knowledge. Most commonly in high stakes testing environments.

Timed assignments can be critical in building student fluency and mastery in key concepts and skills before a high stake test.  Many educators find value in using timers to create urgency among students. If you aren’t comfortable with using timers in your classroom yet, keep reading to learn how you can use them effectively in the math classroom without hesitation.  

In my 14 years as an 8th grade math teacher, I found the value of timed assignments when I needed an efficient way to check-in on my students' understanding. When using timers, students would quickly show what concepts they understood and the skills they could accurately apply. With this, I could modify my instruction accordingly. These timed assignments were often in the form of a warm up activity, an exit ticket or a mini-quiz. 

Timed assignments served as an opportunity to familiarize students with the high stakes testing environment in a less stressful context ahead of time. Throughout their schooling, students will experience timed, high-stakes tests where they need to be able to recall math strategies, facts and applications when the clock is ticking. Providing students a space where they can practice timed assignments in a low-stakes environment (in the classroom) is a chance to help to ease test related stress and anxiety. It also and supports the development of college and career readiness.

To help prepare students for future testing and provide you with an opportunity to understand your students knowledge, ASSISTments has developed a new Assign Time feature!

How does the Timer work?

When a timer is set on an assignment, students will be required to complete the assignment within the amount of time provided.  Students will be able to pause an assignment at any time and return to it later without losing total time.  

How to assign a time limit on a problem set?

Teachers have the ability, when assigning problems, to put a time limit on how long a student will have to complete the problems.  When you click ‘Assign to Class’, on the Student Experience screen, you will see the option to ‘Set Time Limit’.  When you toggle this on, you will have the ability to set a timer between 1 and 60 minutes.

How does the Student Experience change?

When a student starts a timed assignment, they will receive a message letting them know they have limited time to complete the assignment. If they pause or exit and return to an assignment, their remaining time will be displayed for them. They will be notified once time has run out and their access to the assignment will end.

How does the Assignment Report change?

When a timer is added to an assignment, the assigned time limit will appear in the upper right hand corner of the Assignment Report. You will also see an additional column labeled “Paused Time” that will report how long a student paused the assignment . Note: If a student runs out of time, their “% Complete” column will display how far along they were in the assignment when the timer ran out.

See our Timed Assignments User Guide for more details.

Now that you know how the timer in ASSISTments works, here are few suggested use cases to help you get started with using it:

Use Case 1:  Repetitive, Timed Fluency Practice

  • Use the Timer for sprints, fluency practice, or other high frequency formative activities where you want students to recall a quick set of skills in a short period of time. This will help students build fluency with key skills. Eureka Math (EngageNY) has a variety of these fluency based assignments you can find in each grade level folder. Check out the Grade 6 Fluency Support assignments here.

Use Case 2: Timed Assessments or High Stakes Test Practice (Test Mode) 

  • Use the Timer to prepare students for timed high-stakes tests. Start by creating your own custom assignment or use an available Released State Test. Be sure to assign in “Test Mode” so that students do not receive feedback on their answer. This will mimic the summative testing experience.

Use Case 3:  In-Class Check-In’s

  • Use the Timer when assigning quick “check-in” problem sets at the start or end of class. These assignments (warm-ups, do-nows, cool-downs, exit tickets) are meant to be a quick assessment of student understanding at the moment so you can modify your instruction.

Are you ready to increase math performance in your classroom? Try out our new Assign Time feature and see your students' confidence transform in a matter of minutes!

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