Using Self-Assessment Cards during Whole Group Instruction

student self-assessment cards - check for understanding - three levels

Today I introduced these self-assessment cards to my third graders.  Let me tell you, it was a total success!  First, I passed out the cards to each student and we talked about the meaning of each card.  We then practiced using them.  I modeled how to solve an addition problem that reviewed the commutative property of addition by 'thinking aloud'.  Students were then assigned a similar problem and told to use the self-assessment cards to show me their level of understanding of the concept.  I walked around and asked students to explain their thinking.  They then shared their thinking with a friend (students sitting next to them).  I then had a student explain their thinking to the class and asked for volunteers to add to the explanation.  It was truly wonderful math talk for the second day of school.

Below is a short explanation of each level.

Level 3: Green

This card shows me that students understood the mini-lesson taught, are working hard to solve the problem, but are also willing to help other students as needed.

Level 2: Purple

This card shows me that students are working hard to solve the problem, and would rather not be interrupted at the moment. 

Level 1: Orange

This card shows me that students are working hard to solve the problem, but need extra coaching in order to move forward. 

Of course this is a quick overview for day one.   We will practice and refer to the cards often throughout the first weeks of school and review their meaning throughout the year.  I have made mini-anchor charts where we will write what each level means.  We will refer to this often.

student self-assessment cards - check for understanding - three levels

Below is an example of how the cards may be used during the beginning of math workshop.

My goal this year is to start my math workshop block with a challenging problem. I will model my thinking aloud (much like reading mini-lessons) and model the steps I take in order to solve the problem.  

The next step will be to give a similar challenging problem for students to complete.  Students will start completing this problem individually.  This is where they will stop and reflect on their learning.  They will display the card that summarizes how they understood the mini-lesson. I may do the following:
Level 3: Green - I will ask these students to explain their thinking. If they do understand the concept in detail and can explain their thinking in words, I will ask these students to help others as needed.
Level 2: Purple - I will walk around and observe these students.  I will give them some thinking time, but if they do not start to problem solve I will intervene and provide coaching as needed.
Level 1: Orange - I will NOT go to these students first.  Being on this level is not a 'come give me the answer' card.  After checking on a few students with 'green cards', I will check-in on students with orange cards.  This is a time to give one-on-one coaching as needed and not give them step-by-step how to solve the problem.

This sounds like a lot and it is if you try to check-in with every student.  I plan to check in with only a few students at each level.  It is after students have had time to start their thinking process that I will group them in order to complete their problem and come up with a group solution to share.  Whenever possible, I will group students so there are a variety of levels at each group.  Students will complete the problem and share with the class.  We will then start our math rotations.


During the BTS sales, I bought each of my student a sliding pencil box.  This is where my students will store reference cards for math, reading, and writing.  They will also store their self-assessment cards in this box. The cards are held together with small plastic rings.

Use During Math Workshop!

A wonderful thing happened today.  While we were practicing our math rotations, a student took out this self-assessment cards and put the 'Level 1 (orange card)' on his desk.  I had not thought about using these cards during actual math stations, but I loved it!  This let me know that he was struggling without having to come and interrupt my math group.  I went to go check-in on him and he was able to continue working.  I usually don't get up from my group to help a student during their math station, but since we are learning the routine it was okay for today.  When we came together after math stations, I brought up what this student and done.  I explained how I loved that he showed me he needed help without interrupting.  I then let students know that if a member in their group puts the 'Level 1 (orange)' card on their desk to feel free and go check-in with them and offer assistance.  

I hope you will find the card helpful in your classroom! Check here to download the PDF file.

student self-assessment cards - check for understanding - three levels