A few weeks ago, I wrote about the simplification of criteria in order to help focus students on writing clear and succinct explanations when communicating solutions to problems they solve. That strategy seems to have worked for many of the students in my class: Below is a sample from some multiplication/division problems they solved the other day.

Speaking of conferencing, my colleague, Dale, recently reminded me of the value of this: As we finished up our transformational geometry unit a few weeks back, he elected to evaluate students by meeting with them individually to orally assess their understanding of transformation understanding.

Dale showed what he had students do, including a question or to using a grid map from the text book, and a few tasks involving the translation, reflection and rotation of an object on a grid paper.

For each task, he made note of whether they were able to do it independently and confidently, whether they benefited from some teacher guidance, or whether they seemed completely at a loss, even with teacher intervention and support. (I stole his idea and created a recording template -- see photo below.)

In some sense, the conference became a bit of a teaching opportunity as well as an assessment measure. We conference daily or weekly with students for reading and writing as a way to assess and remediate as needed, why not in Math?!

**. It can take a while for students to focus and get on-topic. Giving them a few extra seconds or even minutes to chat with a partner, instead of rushing them through a discussion topic, can really help students to go a little deeper with their understanding. Although I know the research on wait time, I am always surprised when I actually remember to use it, and then students' responses are richer and more focused!**

*wait time*Simplifying success criteria, using oral conferencing as a form of assessment and integrating wait time into the instructional repertoire... three of the many ways we can increase student success as they communicate in math.