Barbara Delaney is a math teacher in Spencer, MA and a longtime ASSISTments user.
In addition to teaching students how to use ASSISTments and read the item reports, it is also important to teach students how to use ASSISTments to inform their learning. In my experience, it takes about 4 to 6 weeks to train students depending on their age and experience.
The first thing I focus on is teaching students how to respond to wrong answers while completing an assignment. Mistakes are good because they provide an opportunity to understand math more deeply. For example, the first wrong response is an opportunity to check your work. There are three types of errors. First, there are careless errors. Was the problem copied wrong? Did you drop a negative sign? Was your work sloppy, which caused an error? Did you follow the model from the class lesson? Did you check your math on a calculator? Provide students with a checklist of possible errors and ways to respond to these errors while training them. Second, are there computational errors? Encourage students to write out each step of their work. This work can be checked on a calculator. Lastly, do you have conceptual errors? These are the hardest to find for the student. If they have checked for careless errors and computational errors and still can’t find their mistake, it is most likely a conceptual error. The student should write down any questions for teacher or class discussion.
Students should also be trained to interpret their individual student success on the item report. Explain to students about the learning progression with the ultimate goal as the learning target. Post the learning progression in the classroom with the goals along the progression leading to hit the learning target.
Explain to students how they should interpret their individual student success compared to the learning progression. For example, at this point of the lesson, student individual learning success should be 75% or higher. Teachers may run a small group for those students below 75%, or do something else to help kids catch up.
The goal of this training is to help student use their ASSISTments data to inform their learning progress rather than see it as a grade. This teaches students to own their own learning progress.
NOTE: The Learning ASSISTments Practice Set will help train students. This Parent/Student letter can be copied and personalized. It will help train parents and students about expectations.