Details of Practical Mastery
· Mastery Quizzes (short quizzes)
o Mastery quizzes can be done electronically like on Moodle or can be done on paper and pencil. The key to the individual lesson mastery quiz is to keep them short. A typical lesson mastery quiz will have at most 4 to 5 questions and be focused on a limited number of concepts. At Byron our mastery quizzes and tests are paper/pencil since students do not have access to the internet when they take our state assessments every spring, the ACT, or their college placement tests, and we want to prepare our students for those assessments.
o One of the challenges of mastery quizzes is making similar but different versions of a quiz. You do not want to just change the numbers because students will memorize the process versus understanding the concepts.
o After a student takes a mastery quiz, you want to provide feedback on that quiz ASAP, ideally within a minute or two since they are still emotionally invested in the quiz.
o Grade mastery quizzes on a 1, 2, 3, or 4 scale. 4 is perfect, 3 is proficient, 2 is some understanding of the material with room to grow, 1 is lots of opportunity to improve.
o If a student does not do well on a quiz, for example a 2 out of 4, you still need to celebrate with the students on what they know and help focus their energies toward what they don’t know. This explicit identification of students know and do not know is empowering as it helps them see success and focus efforts appropriately.
o Encourage students to strive for a 4 on all mastery quizzes. When students are pushed to get 4’s on all mastery quizzes, they do a lot better on the unit tests assuming your mastery quizzes are aligned to your unit tests
o Students are not allowed to retake a mastery quiz on the same day they just went over their mastery quiz. Students need a sleep cycle between going over their mastery quiz and retaking it. We also recommended that students learn and practice the material one day then wait until the next day to take a mastery quiz. This encourages a deeper learning and longer retention of the material.
o Whether you are quizzing online or paper pencil mastery quizzes, be sure to avoid the line of students waiting for you. Students may be in line to get a mastery check, have you grade a mastery check, go over the mastery check with you, or ask a question on an assignment. But if students are standing in line, they are wasting their class-time. You will need to figure out a process that works for you to avoid the line that can easily occur.
· You will need to change the physical setup of your room and have one area specifically for the mastery quizzes with another area for group work or individual work. We have one row of desks set up for students who want to take mastery quizzes then tables or groups of desks setup for students to work on learning and practicing concepts.
· Provide a pacing guide but encourage students work ahead since they will come across harder sections that take more time and/or may be gone someday.
· In class encourage students to focus and make good use of every minute. For many students that means if they focus and make good use of their time then they will not need to watch any videos or complete any math problems outside of class while others will need to do some homework for math to stay on pace.
· Encourage all students to retake mastery quizzes on test review days, including students who got all fours on their mastery quizzes. Supporting and encouraging long-term retention of concepts is a key goal.
· On final review days, students are allowed to retake unit tests to improve their score, again demonstrating retention and mastery of concepts.
Benefits of Mastery
· The culture of a mastery classroom is different. Students have more of a growth mindset or the “I can do it if I work at it”, “not yet”, or “Try Fail, Try Fail, Try Again then Success” mindset. In a non-mastery classroom if a student failed an assessment, it reinforces the student’s idea that “I am not good at math.” But in a mastery classroom if students fail an assessment, they have the attitude that they are going to go back and relearn the material so that I can master the concepts.
· There is a big change in the conversations within the mastery classroom. The student-to-student conversations or the student-to-teacher conversations are more focused on learning the material rather than just getting the assignment done like is often true in a non-mastery classroom.
· Students view the homework problems as a tool for learning the material versus something they have to get done even if they do not learn anything from it.
· Students in a mastery classroom take more pride and ownership of their own learning.
· When a student does fail your course, you have an exact record of what they know and what they do not know. So it is relatively easy to get their grade up to a C if they want to. This can easily be done by having them attend your “summer school” for only a few days and focus specifically on the concepts they do not understand versus needing to retake the whole course next school year or in full summer school session.