My Favorite Formative Assessment Tasks

I’m a little late…but, here’s my week 2 “My Favorite” post for the Explore MTBoS blogging initiative.


The Charles A. Dana Center out of The University of Texas at Austin has put together a great set of tasks for eliciting student thinking.

One of my favorite tasks that I have used with 8th graders (for years) is called Mosaics.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 2.09.52 PM

Because we spend time making sense of the patterns from the Visual Patterns site, this task works well as an independent assessment task.

I particularly like question one in that it asks students to represent the problem in at least three ways–they are not told how to represent the problem.  I like to see if they will use a table, graph, etc.

Also, it’s interesting to see how different students “see” the pattern growing and how they choose to show that thinking.

And my FAVORITE piece of student work for this task incorporated the independent use of “noticing…”


Here is a link to additional student work from this task.  We’ve used this task, along with the student work, as part of our back-to-school professional development on using a examining student work protocol.

Dana Center tasks are not a free resource. You can purchase a book of these tasks here, or on CD here.

4 thoughts on “My Favorite Formative Assessment Tasks

  1. Found you through the MTBoS Blogging Initiative – I had to post late as well, so I figured I’d try to find others in the same boat to check out what other crazy busy people have been up to 🙂

    I love the noticing – we do this in class a lot, but most of my students don’t formally take that step on their own. So awesome to see that! 🙂 Any suggestions for pushing students toward that without constant prompting (if I have them do a task that requires writing down what they notice first, they will do it, but without a prompt I have never seen them notate it on their own). The ones who “get it” do it internally all the time and the ones who “struggle” seem to miss the point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was really just surprised as you when I noticed that this student did this own her own. I’ve been explicit in my request for “noticing and wondering” even including it as a t-chart on the bottom of most tasks (or making them draw their own t-chart). She internalized it to the point of making it a visible part of her process. Have you tried including a notice/wonder chart at the bottom of a problem solving task? We were problem solving quite regularly too. This is the only student that I’ve seen do it independently…so, I don’t think I have the knack for it yet either! If you come up with something that works…I’d love to hear about it! Thank you for your comment!!!


  2. Thanks for sharing this Bridget. When I look at this pattern I only see the 2 center pieces as the constant and I’m left wondering if any students found a different constant.
    When choosing a growing pattern I’ll usually share one that can be seen growing in multiple ways. Just curious:-)


    • If you notice, in the first image above, they have all four squares in the first step continually shaded as what’s staying the same in each new step. I do see that often, where the students see that first step throughout and look at what’s growing beyond. This was an opportunity where I should have, but didn’t, look at how the function for that connects to the function with the two shaded in the center. The function for the 2 shaded in the center is 3x + 2. And, the function for the first image would be 4 + 3(x – 1). I agree with you about making these connections more explicit so that the students can make connections between these representations. It’s also an opportunity to further infuse the standards for math practice.

      Thank you so much for replying to this post! I always appreciate your insight!

      Liked by 1 person

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