How ASSISTments Teacher Data Insights Can Encourage Learning Agency
In my 8th grade math classroom, I regularly assigned Independent practice (homework) with a goal of having students practice skills with little or no assistance. When I started using ASSISTments Teacher in my classroom and assigned independent practice homework, students were getting immediate feedback on the work they completed and I received rich data reports to check their understanding. Students no longer had to wait to find out whether they were working a problem out correctly and they had the opportunity to achieve success with multiple attempts.
What I quickly learned from the ASSISTments Teacher data insights is that not all students were ready to work independently on their assignment just because I finished delivering my lesson. This led me down a path of finding ways to offer support and differentiation to students when I (or another adult) wasn’t at their side. I offered students examples of worked out problems, provided cheat sheets, video resources… and found that different supports helped different students. My students often benefited from embedded Student Supports in the form of Hints and Explanations to get them through their practice work. These teacher-authored messages provided my students the opportunity to be guided through problems when I wasn’t there to help. These Student Supports increased students’ ability to self-direct while doing their work, addressed student misconceptions in real time so they grew and learned as they practiced, and enabled students to take ownership of their learning and develop independence.
Last month, ASSISTments released a new Student Support Authoring Tool which allows teachers to create their own customized hints and/or explanations, available directly to the students in their class. When authoring custom hints/explanations, teachers can use consistent vocabulary used in the class, mirror language students are familiar with, and/or walk students through processes led by their teacher.
Hear from ASSISTments Teacher, Sunny Chang, on her experience with the new Student Support Authoring Tool
Sunny Chang is a Middle School Math teacher at the School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens in Washington DC. She is new to ASSISTments this year and is making the most of her experience by trying out the new Student Support Authoring Tool with her students.
"I've started using the Student Support Authoring Tool to provide hints to various problems that are available in ASSISTments. This function is a great scaffolding tool for students who may need additional support for independent work. On some easier problems, I’ve written only one hint, but I've used strings of hints for problems that may require various scaffolds in order to differentiate the support that a student might need. This has resulted in less frustration for students when presented with grade level material or problems that are particularly challenging."
When choosing which questions to create hints, Chang picks problems that may present any gaps or challenges for her students. These tend to be problems that have skills or applications that were not explicitly addressed during class instruction in order to provide tier 1 support. For tier 2 and tier 3 intervention support, it becomes a vital tool for a quick review of prerequisite skills or grade level standards from previous grades that may be needed for a particular problem. Chang shares that "the Student Support Authoring Tool is straightforward and easy to use."
Get Started on Authoring your own Student Supports
The ASSISTments Team has put together tips to help you get started authoring your own Student Supports:
- Use language and terminology that your students are familiar with and aligned with your curriculum
- Use the sequence of hints to build on student knowledge and and help them move forward
- Keep hints and explanations simple, brief, and mathematically accurate. The Grammarly Chrome extension is a great resource to check the grade-level of your writing.
- Make sure that explanations include the correct answer to help students progress through the assignment