What did SMP #1 say to the flash card? ……“You suck!”

We’ve been using a math reasoning inventory as our benchmark assessment for the past 5 years.  In that time there’s been tremendous growth (in small pockets), but unfortunately our struggles continue.  This post was inspired by Robert Kaplinsky‘s How Old is the Shepherd?

I’ve been videotaping some of our final benchmark assessments so I can use them in a future PL (if accepted…NCTM 2015).  I thought I was going to capture “all the great things happening” and that these recordings would inspire teachers. This video IS NOT what I intended to capture but fortunately it may have a greater impact.  

He sounded so convinced and confident in his answer.  I asked some questions that would hopefully get him to reason abstractly and quantitatively but to no prevail.  “9!” This student has been labelled as “good at math”.  So I grabbed some index cards…30 seconds later:

I knew it!!!! It’s suddenly became apparent that MY definition of “good at math” is all screwed up.  If flash cards determine a student’s mathematical ability then I haven’t assessed my students in years (and proud of it!).

Maybe flash cards should be banned from schools and considered as contraband.  Maybe we (teachers) should have to come to school with clear plastic bags and see through roll-away crates to ensure that Weapons of Math Distraction are not being snuck into our schools.  Maybe Weapons of Math Distraction: Nonsensical Tools used in the Math Classroom could be the sequel to the book Nix the Tricks.

Maybe one teacher will change when they see this video…maybe!

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