CMS Assessment 3.0

The ultimate goal of the CMS assessment design project in CEP 813 is to create an assessment in a content management system that supports and enhances students’ learning.  I decided to use Haiku Learning for my assessment design because it is an effective, efficient, useful, and useable platform, making it an obvious choice for administering diverse assessments to secondary mathematics students. Specifically, Haiku Learning is easy to navigate and use and it offers various tools and supports that can be used for formatively or summatively assessing students’ proficiency regarding specific learning goals. These features include discussion forums, collaborative workspaces, polls, rubrics, surveys, learning portfolios, Dropbox for submissions, and various quizzing/testing options. Haiku Learning also has grade book built into the site that allows instructors to link assessments and rubrics to grade book submissions, making it not only a great platform to teach learn and assess but also to communicate progress and proficiency accurately and in a timely manner to both parents and students.

The Pythagorean theorem is one of the main topics covered in an 8th grade mathematics geometry unit, and it is also a standard students will be expected to further develop in both high school geometry and trigonometry. Furthermore, the Pythagorean Theorem is commonly present on standardized assessments such as the M-Step and ACT, and in the ever changing world of standardized assessments, the Pythagorean Theorem and its applications have withstood the test of time, making it a key standard for secondary math learners. So, for this task, I designed and implemented three different types of assessments on Haiku Learning, each eliciting different forms of feedback, as a way to measure whether my 8th grade math students have reached the desired learning outcomes at the end of the first lesson in the Pythagorean theorem unit. The lesson and assessments I created are aligned with Common Core State Standards for 8th Grade Geometry and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice.

Specifically, using a content management system, my goal was to design and implement assessments that reveal what and how students are learning in time for modifications to be made to instruction; that allow me to assess broader ranges of skills and abilities in addition to content recall; and that redefine students’ role in the assessment process, making the assessment itself a more engaging learning experience. To do so, I included both traditional assessment measures and nontraditional assessment measures as a way to balance and assess a broader range of skills and abilities. The three assessments, when taken together, allow me to inform teaching and learning in different capacities and from different perspectives. The first assessment, traditional in design, measures math computation skills providing direct and immediate feedback. In addition to the first assessment, I designed two non-traditional performance tasks. The first performance tasks allows learners to demonstrate what they know in a collaborative work space by transferring their mathematical knowledge to real world scenarios & the second performance task allows learners to self-evaluate as they make connections between mathematical and visual representations of the content and then reflect on the process, making revisions and improvements along the way.

These three different assessment tasks are designed to give all learners the opportunity to show they have mastered the skills in the first lesson. By differentiating the instruction and assessments, I believe I will be able to more accurately gauge what students truly know in addition to possible misconceptions. Namely, the results from a multiple-choice test provide much different information on learners’ understanding than the evidence revealed through reflective posts or performance tasks. Diverse assessment opportunities provide diverse insights on student learning; and, because the assessment tools and strategies are formative, the information gathered from them should immediately inform and modify instruction and learning. Through this process, students will receive feedback regularly from their peers and me. For example, information gathered from the multiple choice assessment will reveal trends in data, which can be used to help the instructor evaluate the effectiveness of their own instruction while helping them make informed decisions about future lessons. By implementing a quiz assessing isolated skills, such as computation, students are able to use the immediate feedback and quiz score to identify specific areas of weakness and respond accordingly. They should then accommodate their study habits based on their performance scores so they can make improvements by the time they reach the unit summative assessment. Moreover, while the multiple choice assessment allows me to check my students’ computation and retention skills, the metacognitive problem writing performance task and the reflective proof re-creation assessments allow me to assess transfer, or each learners ability to apply their learning to new scenarios, in addition to each learners ability to consolidate and connect new learning with old. They are designed to extend beyond computation and stimulate collaboration and reflection. The performance tasks allow me to assess learners understanding on an individual level and within a community. Through differentiated assessments learners are receiving feedback from multiple sources and are making adjustments in their learning as they progress, which ultimately leads to personal growth. In fact, learners will not only grow by completing the assessment tasks, they will also grow by reading and providing feedback to their classmates (peer-assessment) and reflecting on the process (self-assessment). Through this process, by providing multiple different methods of assessment in each lesson, I hope that learners are appropriately challenged and stimulated and if they aren’t that the data collected from the various assessments informs my instruction and allows me to make changes.

The assessment tools, approaches, and strategies outlined in my screencast and this blog post provide a more cohesive, accurate representation of learners’ proficiency because I have taken into account multiple measures of achievement (three differentiated assessments measuring computation, performance, and consolidation) and have relied on multiple sources of evidence (differentiated feedback in relation to the assessment type). Through the described formative assessments, as I become aware of my students’ needs, abilities, strengths and weaknesses, I will be better positioned to modify my instructional strategies and content focus to help maximize student learning and improve achievement.

Check out the screencast describing these assessments here: CMS SCREENCAST LINK

For a more detailed account of each of the three assessments I designed on my CMS (including an explanation of the assessment tools I used on Haiku and the feedback methods & approaches) continue reading below.

  1. For the first assessment, I used the built in assessment creation tool in Haiku Learning to build a multiple-choice assessment focusing on mastery of isolated computation and application skills. This assessment tool can be used to identify possible misunderstandings and misconceptions to both the teacher and learner as the data collected provides a snapshot of where each learner is in terms of the goals and standards in relation to the overall learning continuum. That is, this particular assessment tool on Haiku learning reports feedback immediately to all parties (students, teacher, & parents via grade book), which allows the instructor to identify strengths and weaknesses individually and holistically and then use those findings to modify instruction and devise appropriate strategies to close/minimize the achievement gap. In addition to the automatic feedback, the built in assessment tool is equipped with an equation editor, making it both a useful and useable tool for math students. Also, in terms of the automatic feedback, all assessments created on Haiku Learning, regardless of their design, can be linked to the grade book tool. While the automatic feedback informs teaching and learning in real-time, the grade book tool, organized by assessment, skill or standard, creates a log of student achievement revealing not only proficiency levels but also progress by charting growth over multiple assessments.
  2. For the second assessment, students will go on to become problem writers posting three real-world questions involving the Pythagorean Theorem, their solutions and work for each of the problems, and a thorough explanation- using appropriate vocabulary- as to why their contexts and solutions make sense realistically and mathematically to a class discussion forum. Then, learners will go on to review and respond to at least three of their classmates’ posts. This assessment approach extends beyond assessing specific skills, such as computation, and measures whether learners can synthesize their knowledge and transfer it to real-world situations. In addition to measuring the learners’ ability to synthesize and transfer knowledge, this formative assessment fosters peer-to-peer collaboration, giving students a key role in the evaluation process. During peer-assessment students become the evaluator and offer feedback and support to help improve their classmate’s work/learning. Not only do collaborative assessments provide real-time feedback from various perspectives as a way to inform and improve learning, they also allow for interactions that blur the teacher-learner roles, which in turn motivates learners to take control of their learning. Moreover, having linked a rubric to this problem writing assessment, utilizing yet another impressive tool on Haiku Learning, learners will be fully aware of their expectations in relation to the learning goals and will consequently be able to provide meaningful, informative feedback to their peers based on those expectations. Students will then self-assess based on the feedback they have received, making adjustments in their work and improving learning. Then, the instructor will use the linked rubric to assess the entire performance task: the development of the problems, the computation, the feedback, the revisions, etc. As a tool to measure student learning, the rubric will allow the instructor to measure multiple dimensions of learning rather than just content knowledge and will provide a more detailed account of the students’ abilities rather than just a score.
  3. The third and last assessment requires that learners recreate a visual representation of the Pythagorean Theorem proof. In doing so, they will be required to reflect on their learning and creation as it develops, making connections to prior knowledge, such as the real number system, and interpreting associated implications. This formative assessment task stimulates self-reflection providing valuable feedback to both the learner and teacher, which can then be used to inform the teaching and learning processes. That is, the reflective account documents the learning process and makes learners’ thinking visible, revealing misconceptions, revisions, & improvements. Additionally, due to the flexibility in design, the instructor can provide one-on-one feedback through commentary or by posing effective questions along the way. Based on my feedback and questions, learners are able to modify and edit their posts and assignments. The dialogue created through feedback informs teaching and learning and allows the instructor to modify and adapt instruction to best meet the needs and thought processes of each learner.

CEP 813: Self-Assessment Blog Post – Theory to Practice

Based on my work and learning experiences in CEP 813, I plan to use digital portfolios with my 8th grade math students so that they can track their progress and reflect on their growth. The main goal for implementing digital portfolios into my math curriculum is that they allow learners to be involved in mathematical abstraction and help them see that math is an ongoing process and finding the answer is not the most important part. While it wouldn’t be feasible to utilize a digital portfolio for every assignment and topic in math class, it would be beneficial to use it during problem solving tasks that require reasoning and periods of reflection.

Carefully designed problem finding and problem solving tasks in mathematics stimulate critical thinking and foster problem-solving skills. In an educational system where standardized tests focus on memorization of trivial facts, it is essential that teachers find instructional tools –such as digital portfolios– that promote mastery (Black & Wiliam, 1998, p.141). An essential element of mastery learning is being able to transfer knowledge to new situations and articulate understanding through metacognition (Shepard, 2005, p.69). Digital portfolios are incredibly useful for self-reflection because they document students’ work so that it can be easily viewed and edited at a later time, allowing learners to make connections within their learning.

Digital portfolios also provide many opportunities for formative assessment to occur within instruction. Specifically, in math class, digital portfolios can be used as a strategy and tool to encourage learners to put on paper what they are thinking about as they approach a math problem. Many students work an idea out in their head, but it never makes it to their paper. The downfall is that those thoughts, limited to the confines of their skull, never get the chance to be re-worked or discussed, instead they are forgotten. The documentation of their process allows the learner to learn from their mistakes, chart their growth, and perhaps utilize findings later on in the process that they attempted to use prematurely. Creativity does not hide mistakes, it transforms them and the work organized in a digital portfolio serves as a constant reminder not to be afraid of failure but to embrace mistakes and new learning. By encouraging them not to erase their typed work, they can document their progress and growth in addition to receiving feedback from their peers. Thus, it makes sense for students to document their thoughts and reflect on the problem solving process in their digital portfolios for my class. However, embedding formative assessments within problem solving tasks utilizing the digital portfolio requires that the assessments align with and support the set learning objectives and that the learner receives meaningful feedback based on their performance (Shepard, 2000, p.11). Thus, educators must carefully align digital portfolio assessments and assignments with the curriculum and provide detailed feedback regularly on student work.

Including digital portfolios in the math curriculum would also allow me to easily generate and organize feedback for students regarding their work. By reviewing their reflective work, I will be able to observe what my learners know and where they are headed, providing feedback on a personalized level. By having learners reflect in their digital portfolios as they work through tasks, they will naturally organize their thoughts and make their thinking more permanent. As I have learned, this reflection process is also a reflection process for me as an educator. Their work and reflections allow me to better gauge where each learner may need more help as well as examine the progress they have made. As a result, I can inform and adapt my instruction to better meet the needs of my learners.

Digital portfolios are incredibly useful in supporting enduring understanding of material. This is largely due to the fact that learners have the ability to respond to challenges at their own level of development and on their own terms. However, as a facilitator it is my job to offer support, direct learning, and set the parameters. I can monitor learning by reviewing digital portfolios and by watching how my students communicate and respond to each other’s work. Clearly, students benefit from learning how their classmates are thinking, so by encouraging collaboration and peer-to-peer feedback, the learners will naturally begin to build off each other for support. Through this process, I will be able to adjust the learning tasks to reflect a more appropriate level of challenge as needed.

To conclude, it is most important that formative assessments afforded by digital portfolios are always designed to encourage a learning culture within the classroom (Shepard, 2005, p.70). That is, to promote a learning culture, the emphasis must be on mastery and conceptual understanding achieved through metacognitive reflection and collaborative learning experiences and less on handing out grades. Because digital portfolios easily allow for assessments to occur within learning, and stimulate both reflection and collaboration efficiently, I plan to integrate them as a learning tool in my 8th grade mathematics classroom.


Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. The phi delta kappan80(2), 139-144.

Shepard, L.A. (2000). The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educational researcher29(7), 4-14.

Shepard, L.A. (2005). Linking formative assessment to scaffolding. Educational leadership63(33), 66-70

CEP 813: Formative Assessment Design 2.0

Assessment is not a spreadsheet or score, it is a conversation.

This week in CEP 813 we were asked to revise and further the development of a formative assessment we first started back in June. For my formative assessment, I created a Three Acts Math Task designed for 8th grade math students who are learning to apply the volume formula for cylinders to solve real-world and mathematical problems. The lesson is designed for students who have already worked with the surface area and volume of 3-Dimensional solids, so they are familiar with how to approach and solve related computational math problems; however, this lesson goes beyond math computation and requires the students to think critically and wrestle with an indirect problem. That is, this lesson requires learners to formulate and solve mathematical reasoning problems (i.e. problems that require application of math processes in the world around us). Thus, while this formative assessment requires learners to be profiecent in certain skills & standards, it’s focus is on measuring learners’ mathematical modeling skills as part of the problem solving process. Although, the summative assessment at the end of the unit will take a step back and measure those computational skills embeded in this task, that is not the purpose of this design.

The job of the dramatist is to make the audience wonder what happens next. Not to explain to them what just happened, or to suggest to them what happens next.

— David Mamet

Storytelling requires empathy, an understanding of an audience’s expectations, their current knowledge, and their prior experience. As you saw in Version 1.0, this formative assessment task was carefully designed to ensure learners are able to identify the problem, accurately communicate their thinking, apply reasoning skills, make connections to prior knowledge, and understand complexities in various forms. By using multimedia to present the lesson, the learners are able to consider much more complex concepts on their own terms. They are able to address real world problems and present real world solutions. They are able to see how their math computation skills can be applied to real world processes realistically, such as how surface area and volume effect producer and consumer choices. Most importantly, digital media allows for learners to be involved in the process of mathematical abstraction, tackling the problem in its most concrete form first and building towards the abstract form. As a result of the design, students will show that they are able to transfer their knowledge regarding volume of cylinders to real world scenarios as they work through the task. “Transferability is understanding revealed: The performers must figure out which knowledge and skill is needed on their own, without simplifying teacher prompts or cues, to solve the real problems of performance” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 156). As the problem unfolds and is developed, the learners will identify what information is necessary to solve the problem on their own and will use their networked device to find information as needed.  The most rewarding thing that an assessment task like this have to offer is seeing the creativity learners bring to mathematics. Processing information, making connections, reflecting, and learning through constructivism are qualities of creative problem-solvers and innovative learners and define the educational ideology of the 21st century.

Building on the framework and design I established in Version 1.0, my second draft will provide a more detailed outline and plan for integrating Three Acts Math as a formative assessment in an 8th grade math class, check out the second draft: Formative Assessment Design 2.0 of my Formative Assessment Design.


Wiggins, G.P. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA:  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Review of Content Management Systems Through the Lens of Assessment

This week in CEP 813 we examined and compared the affordances of free Content Management Systems (CMSs) through the lens of assessing student learning. I chose to compare Weebly for Education, COURSEsites by Blackboard, and Haiku Learning. The results of my critical review of the three sites listed can be found in this spreadsheet.

Based upon my analysis of these three CMSs, I have chosen to use Haiku Learning to create my CMS assessment. The main reason I chose Haiku Learning is because it not only had all of the redeeming qualities and capabilities I was looking for in the assessment framework, but it also was very user friendly- from an instructor and student perspective. All three sites appeared to offer unique and differentiated options for assessing students-formative and summative, but I was most impressed with the design and usability of Haiku Learning. For example, Haiku Learning offers the following options that could easily be used to assess student learning: 1) discussion forums, 2) dropbox submission, 3) surveys, 4) rubrics, 5) learning portfolios, and 6) peer and self assessment tools. However, I did find that COURSEsites by Blackboard offered perhaps more specific options for collaborative group work, like assigning roles and jobs, but it was much more difficult to navigate and set up than both Weebly for Education and Haiku Learning, which made the features not worth it to me. I felt like Haiku Learning‘s traditional and non-traditional assessment tools worked harmoniously within the framework design and flowed well with content, opposed to Weebly for Education and COURSEsites by Blackboard where I spent a lot of time clicking around in different places to utilize and create different assessment types, but again, that is a design issue not an issue of whether or not the features exist. I am just a huge believe in USEFUL and USEABLE tools, and the challenging design framework in both Weebly for Education and COURSEsites by Blackboard made some of the features and tools less USEABLE.

Since assessment should inform teaching and learning and in many ways drive our instruction, I was pleased to see the various options for feedback in relation to the assessment type. Some sort of gradebook feature is available on each of the CMSs I reviewed, keeping both parents and students informed and up to date. Additionally, through various multimedia tools and options on each of the sites, students are able to express themselves creatively and receive direct feedback via comments from their instructors and peers. For example, in math class, I like to utilize GeoGebra as a teaching, learning and assessing tool. Unless I used a link to a new page for each GeoGebra activity, I would need to be able to embed Java applets into my site. Having learned to navigate Weebly for Education quite well over the past few years and through my explorations with Haiku Learning the past few weeks in both this course and CEP 820: Teaching Students Online, I know I am able to embed Java applets into both of these sites; however, I was not able to figure out how to embed Java applets into COURSEsites by Blackboard. I don’t want to say it isn’t possible, though, because I am still learning to navigate the site and it’s tools. To view a GeoGebra lesson I created on Weebly with a Java applet embedded in the site page, check out my webpage on quadrilaterals and technology. Feel free to play around with the Java applet 🙂

Another great feature I was surprised to find is that all three sites offered an equation editor. As a math teacher, that was a feature I looked for right away. Having created online assessments using a shifty equation editor in Schoolnet for over three years now, I have become all too familiar with writing an equation in Microsoft Word, taking a screenshot of the equation, uploading the PNG file to the assessment question, and then repeating for additional assessment questions as needed. This daunting process is something I would definitely want to avoid while developing an online math course because we use equations so often in math class. As far as I can tell, the equation editors in each of the three sites appear to be up to par and don’t require coding like the equation editor in Schoolnet does.

Moving forward, the plan is to create a collaborative formative assessment activity using Haiku Learning and GeoGebra that allows learners to explore the Pythagorean Theorem. My Math 8 students will work together in a collaborative group space, using GeoGebra to explore and develop an informal proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. Through this activity I will be able to monitor and direct learning by providing feedback and stimulating discussion conversation, allowing my learners to eventually demonstrate their understanding of the Pythagorean Theorem.  In the assessment, students will go on to become “Problem Writers” posting a real-world question involving the Pythagorean Theorem for their peers to read. Then, they will go on to review and respond to at least three questions posted by their classmates.  This will foster collaboration between the students while also assessing students’ understanding of the Pythagorean Theorem (the question they write) and it’s application (their ability to solve their classmates real-world questions).

CEP 813_Minecraft Creation 2: Math Review Rollercoaster

Here is a link to my Minecraft Math Review Coaster: Minecraft Screencast #2

While designing my Minecraft assessment, I really felt like I was forcing any design or assessment idea I came up with…I constantly was asking myself why I needed Minecraft and it’s features, especially if it was something I could do on paper or with tangible materials and get the same results. I really wanted to take advantage of the program’s design features. So I wanted to design something that requires navigation or movement, but also covers several different standards because the design allows for several different types of creations. So, for my Minecraft assessment I made a math review coaster that covers several strands from math 8 Common Core State Standards. The first part of the assessment is the information box at the top of the rollercoaster hill. It asks students to identify the slope of the first hill using two different methods. The students will also need to recognize that the slope is negative. The second assessment asks the students to find the volume of the pyramid. The third assessment asks the students to find the depth of the pool given the volume and then goes on to ask how they could redesign a pool with the same voume but different surface area. The fourth assessment asks the students to identity the coordinates and quadrant in which the rollercoaster cart intersects the coordinate plane. The fifth and last assessment requires the learners to consider two problem-solving tasks that require them to write functions and consider buying and selling the coaster property. After assessing the learners’ ability to navigate this coaster and answer the mini embedded assessments, I would hopefully move on to a more advanced task requiring them to them build a math coaster with assessments embedded for each of the Common Core strands we cover in 8th grade, like I did.

***Please note, due to storms I could not get my final video to upload so I am going to upload a draft. The screencast ends abruptly because Minecraft kept disconnecting from the server but most of the information is there. I will try to upload the complete screencast tomorrow with no interruptions. Thank you 🙂

Minecraft Week 1: Exploring the Tutorial World

This week in CEP 813 we explored Minecraft as a learning & assessment tool. Starting in the tutorial world, I naturally wanted to skip the instructional video and jump right into the game and figure things out on my own, which is pretty standard for me. I like to learn as I go. However, after getting started I realized I needed to go back and watch the tutorial.  I wound up shooting pretty much everything (unintentionally), getting lost in a hole I dug, & missing the instructional signs all together! I typically can figure out games as I go, but Minecraft looks and feels like an outdated video game so a lot of the strategies I typically use couldn’t be applied. It actually reminds me of the Mario in 3D Land video game, but if you had to play it on an Atari console with the original Nintendo graphics. The idea is similar with bricks and hidden treasures; there just wasn’t a destination from what I could tell. Although, the purpose for the tutorial world was to learn skills and navigation rather than reach a destination, I think.

For more on the challenges I encountered while exploring the tutorial world and my initial thoughts on using Minecraft as a teaching and learning tool, check out my screencast: Minecraft Screencast #1

CEP 813- Formative Assessment Design 1.0: Three Acts of a Mathematical Story

This week we were asked to develop the first draft of a formative assessment. I created a three-act math task designed for 8th grade math students who are learning to apply the volume formula for cylinders to solve real-world and mathematical problems. The lesson is designed for students who have already worked with the surface area and volume of 3-Dimensional solids, so they are familiar with how to approach and solve related computational math problems; however, this lesson goes beyond math computation and requires the students to think critically and wrestle with an indirect problem. That is, this lesson requires learners to formulate and solve mathematical reasoning problems (i.e. problems that require application of math processes in the world around us).

Using pop cans and a marketing perspective, the lesson is set up to be a problem solving and problem finding task. It was carefully designed to ensure learners are able to identify the problem, accurately communicate their thinking, apply reasoning skills, make connections to prior knowledge, and understand complexities in various forms. By using multimedia to present the lesson, the learners are able to consider much more complex concepts on their own terms. They are able to address real world problems and present real world solutions. They are able to see how their math computation skills can be applied to real world processes realistically, such as how surface area and volume effect producer and consumer choices. Most importantly, digital media allows for learners to be involved in the process of mathematical abstraction, tackling the problem in its most concrete form first and building towards the abstract form. To complete the task, learners need to know how to find the volume of each cylindrical can, how to write proportions for unit conversions, and how to interpret their findings. They also need to be able to identify what matters in a problem situation and what information they need to complete the task.

Changing the model of pedagogy to meet the demands of the 21st century is crucial. Learners need the opportunity to learn how to learn, discover and formulate problems, build on other peoples’ insights, and adapt their abilities to various situations. As Polya (1957) states:

“A great discovery solves a great problem but there is a grain of discovery in the solution of any problem. Your problem may be modest; but if it challenges your curiosity and brings into play your inventive faculties, and if you solve it by your own means, you may experience the tension and enjoy the triumph of discovery. Such experiences at a susceptible age may create a taste for mental work and leave their imprint on mind and character for a lifetime.

Here is the link to the first draft of my formative assessment : A Problem Worth Solving