Planning Ahead with Learning Profiles

Based on this #eduread and after exploring my new book Math Toolshere's a very tiny bit of what I have so far for week one of school.  (Eeek, it's only early July!)

Since in the first week we will be in the getting to know you stage, I'm opting for a very quick assessment to determine students' learning profiles as Mastery, Understanding, Self-Expressive, and Interpersonal.  At my recent ASCD conference, the presenter used these images to analyze our style as instructional coaches, and the simple images created such rich discussions, so I hope that will happen in our class, too...but since it's week one, I may be overly optimistic!  

I'll show them this slide, have them share out a few ideas, discuss a few more specifics from this document, and have students record their responses on this Google form so that I will have a record of their preferences.  I plan to seat students according to this learning preference during the first couple weeks of school.

I teach pre-calculus, and we start our year using a unit circle approach to trigonometry.  I looked over my unit objectives, and I knew in the past, my students really struggled with understanding coterminal angles, determining which quadrant an angle lies, finding reference angles, and (when it's first introduced) finding exact trig values using the unit that's where I wanted to start my differentiation. (I know differentiation is a proactive approach to teaching. I already know where kids will struggle, so I need to plan ahead to anticipate their difficulties.)

For today's post, I am just sharing one small formative assessment idea, but it's a start, and I bet it will get easier as I keep practicing.  (#growthmindset!)  After receiving my Math Tools book, I skimmed through the ideas and jotted down the ones that I already used or the ones that appealed to me.  The book provides tools for each category of Mastery, Understanding, Interpersonal, and Self-Expressive, and the final chapter uses a combination of all four of the learning profiles.

Because I know the kids usually struggle with coterminal angles, I want a more thorough check for understanding after that lesson.  For the last 5-7 minutes of class, I plan to use these questions as an exit ticket.  Students will choose the one question that appeals to their learning profile and turn in their responses for me to check and plan for the next lesson.  If students finish early, they may try another question, or they may share their responses with their group members.  For this assessment, I want to see their level of understanding of coterminal angles and learn where they are still struggling.
Since this will be our first "experiment" with these learning profiles, I will make certain we have time to reflect about the students' choices of question and how I will use their work to inform my teaching decisions.  I want the students to be comfortable with their first groups, we'll be practicing procedures, and the first week is so hectic, so I think this will be a safe formal assessment.

It took me less time to create this small assessment than to write this blog post, so I am hopeful that I will be able to eventually have a collection of questions, assessments, and tasks...but for now, I'm starting with asking where do the kids struggle, and what I can I do to check their level of understanding and deepen their level of understanding.  If I can start by creating two-three "things" per unit, I'll be a happy camper.

Update:  I knew I rarely included Self-Expressive type tasks, so I wanted to focus on creating those types of questions.  Going back to Math Tools, I wrote these questions to use at some point during the unit.

Have you found ways to incorporate these learning profiles into your lessons?  What do you think?
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About Kathryn Laster

I love teaching, learning, and sharing!
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  1. Kathryn you are making me really want to purchase that book. Your post does a great job of showcasing the four different learning profiles. TFS!

  2. I think students would love this and it would give you some insight into their personalities. I am marking this as something to include with both my students and faculty for PD meetings.