Entry Interviews for Math Readiness

I've written a bit lately on the use of exit interviews to assess whether learning objectives have been met by the end of a lesson. Such assessments can be signposts to lack of understanding or making progress towards it. A number of teachers who favor a flipped classroom model (myself included) might consider using entry interviews with resulting math stations.

Carol Ann Tomlinson, the guru of differentiation notes that differentiation can take the form of not merely a learning product, but readiness for a learning activity. Using a flipped classroom model, teachers can quickly collect information through tech tools like Google Forms, so when students walk in the door a teachers knows exactly how ready a student is for certain station activities and suggest activities that are appropriate for their background knowledge. Such questions all teachers ask themselves at the beginning of a lesson are:
  1. Which students might need more time to review before independent practice?
  2. Can accelerated students compact out of doing some review activities?
  3. How can I create an individualized learning experience for all my students?

If you use a entry interview, make sure it is high quality and tied to curricular objectives.

Question #3 Courtesy of Holt Reinhart Winston "Holt Mathematics Course 3"
Quick analytical tools allow educators to assess which students may need further review and which are ready to do certain stations. For example, students that struggle with the entry interview may benefit from watching videos, re-reading sections from the text, or personal reflection. Students that miss a mere 1-2 items may do smaller amounts of the above, but then move on to modelling activites with the teacher, or independent practice. Students that demonstrate understanding of all three may move start with independent practice but move towards other activities such as content creation or application problems.

Entry interviews may seem like a daunting preparation, but if you have good resources and good classroom management, they can provide opportunities for all students to meet the curriculum at a level for which they are ready and ensure a more individualized learning experience.

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