In Ben Mook’s seventh-grade algebra class, students are guided toward the process rather than just the answer. In Edutopia’s recent video on the idea of “authentic assessment”, Mr. Mook shares his methods for using mistakes as learning opportunities and encouraging deeper thought rather than rote memorization.
“What I’d say is an authentic assessment would be something that a teacher could design to hit the skills and the needs of their population,” he says. “Some of these things that I’m assessing are not necessarily that kids can get to a right answer, but that kids, once they have that right answer, can understand, “I got to this right answer because I followed steps.’ ”
Students appear comfortable in Mook’s classroom and seem to appreciate the direction the lesson takes. One student gushed,
“I really like that we get to use our hands in class and that we really get to experience this in a real life situation, and that it’s not just, ‘here’s the formula.’ It’s like, ‘here’s why the formula works and, you know, here’s something to prove it, or here’s how you could think about it.’ ”
I had a math teacher in high school who emphasized multiple paths toward finding the solution in geometry. While I wasn’t a great math student, geometry was my favorite class because I, like many left-brain thinkers, appreciate words and discussion and pathways toward understanding. Mook seems to be catering to ALL kinds of students in his math class, something not every teacher can pull off.