I always find it interesting to see what areas my students struggle with in ScootPad. When I look at the results, I can see if it’s a specific area of struggle for a whole class, or if individuals are getting tripped up by specific kinds of problems. Sometimes the reason for the struggle is obvious (e.g., a student does not know their multiplication facts and thus is having a hard time with division). In such a case, the solution is also obvious–work on the area of weakness to improve skill knowledge and student performance.

But what happens if the reason underlying the poor performance is not so obvious?  Such was the case with “Colby.” Colby is a bright, eager first grader who is whizzing his way through the second grade math track. He almost always scores 100%, or close to it, on math practices.

Looking at the practice results, we can assume this student is doing perfectly.
Looking at the practice results, we can assume this student is doing perfectly.

 

So imagine my surprise when I was printing out his progress report and saw he was at 64% on something!

I was surprised to see this  red score amidst what looked like near-perfect practices.
I was surprised to see this red score amidst what looked like near-perfect practices.

Confused, I went into the practices themselves to see what was tripping him up. It was hard to find one worthy of exploration, but I decided to check out 2 of the 85% scores.  Seeing the kinds of questions he was getting wrong, I was more confused: the math was simple, the concepts not nearly as advanced as many I had seen him do without any issues.

Sometimes a child's struggle is more than meets the eye.
Sometimes a child’s struggle is more than meets the eye.

After sitting with it for a bit,the solution came to me: it was the wording that was throwing him off, not the math. And while this may seem relatively insignificant, it pointed to something worthy of my time and consideration: the new tests coming (PARCC in our case) rely a great deal on just such types of wording! No longer can students get by on math understanding alone: They must also be able to decipher the math desired through the veil of a great deal of language.  For students in schools such as mine, where many are second language learners, thinking about teaching students the language is as important as teaching them the math! Colby’s results reminded me of the great challenge that awaits me with my students as we prepare for PARCC in the coming months.

What new challenges have you discovered by looking at some interesting questions and student answers on ScootPad?

Cheers!
Dr. Michelle Anthony