# Building mathematical understanding through on the spot assessment

Diezmann, Carmel M. (2008) Building mathematical understanding through on the spot assessment. Teaching Children Mathematics, 15(5), pp. 290-294.

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## Abstract

The article presents a series of number sense activities that involve estimation and prediction and encourage young students to use their observation skills. These activities involved an exploration of the relationships between the number of objects in a container and (1) its fullness and (2) the size of objects in the container. The objects used in these activities were three different sizes of sweets but counters or small blocks of different sizes could be used as an alternative to sweets. Throughout these activities, the teacher’s instructional planning and decision making was informed by informal assessment — particularly on the spot assessment.
During an investigation of the numerical contents of small, white, translucent, sealed (film) cans filled with Smarties (brightly coloured sweets), the teacher of a class of 7- to 8-year-olds realized that students’ observation skills were a stumbling block to their ability to predict quantity. The students had been asked to predict the numerical contents of the cans without opening them. Each pair of children had a filled can and access to a variety of resources for this investigation including extra Smarties, an empty can, a ruler, and a calculator. Following their explorations and predictions, the students opened their cans and counted the contents. What was of concern to the teacher was that many students’ predictions were “wild guesses” that seemed unrelated to their observations. Just as students need to learn how to count, they also need to learn how to use observations to inform their predictions of quantity.

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ID Code: 18519 Journal Article Yes Self-archiving of the author-version is not yet supported by this publisher. For more information, please refer to the journal’s website (see hypertext link) or contact the author. Number Concepts, Number Sense, Assessment, Early Childhood Education 1073-5836 Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education Copyright 2008 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics 06 Mar 2009 04:12 29 Feb 2012 13:51

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