I picked this idea up from a maths teacher whom I met at a conference on differentiation. She uses this system to quickly determine the level of understanding of her students when teaching a new maths concept. She then figures out the working environment for the rest of the lesson in terms of small group work, pairs, whole class, etc. I have adopted this system in my class, and it’s very effective.
The scale system compares the children to car windshields:
- “Clear as glass” means I understand the concept completely, and I feel I am able to work on my own or with someone to help them sort out their understanding.
- “Squashed bug” means I have some idea of what to do, but I need further help, either from the teacher or from a “Clear as glass” person.
- “Mud” means I cannot see or understand what I am doing, and this child usually ends up in a small group with the teacher for further instruction.
The first time I heard about this scale, I thought the same children would always be in the “Mud” group-the least able ones. But the “Mud” group changes on a regular basis. We do not use this system every day in class, but only when the concept is being introduced.
After teaching a maths concept such as long division, I ask the children if they are “clear as glass”, “a squashed bug”, or “mud”. Those who are “clear as glass” understand the concept completely. Those who are “a squashed bug” have some understanding of the concept, and those who are “mud” need further small group work. The children find this scale very useful.
I usually end up working with the “mud” children, and the “squashed bug” children pair up with “clear as glass” children in order to gain a further understanding of the concept being taught.
Kimm Lucas has also contributed a downloadable resource which you can use in the classroom to reinforce this technique. Download the PDF below.
The following suggestion was contributed by a visitor…
This is a quick way to see how well the children think they have grasped the concept/idea you have been trying to get over to them.
We use a ‘THUMBometer.’ i.e. thumbs up = I’ve got it, thumbs down = help please, waggling thumb in the middle = I’m nearly there, but I would like a bit more support/time.