How to Assess While You Teach Math: Formative Assessment Practices and Lessons, Grades K–2


How to Assess While You Teach Math is the ideal resource for further understanding the process of formative assessment in addition to improving your teaching of mathematics. All lessons are correlated to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and Standards for Mathematical Practice.

In this multimedia resource, award-winning teacher Dana Islas takes educators into her Pueblo Gardens' classroom for a seeing is believing look at seven successful formative assessment practices, demonstrating them in action through 14 video clips and 19 engaging lessons. You’ll find

  • individual assessments and student-led conferences filmed in actual classrooms;
  • questions to help guide teachers’ observations of students as they engage in each lesson;
  • suggestions for supporting students who struggle;
  • teacher and student checklists for guiding formative assessment in each lesson;
  • a rubric to help teachers scaffold the order of student work shared in a whole-group discussion;
  • ready-to-use reproducibles; and more.

icon pdf Correlations to CCSS

Dana Islas
224 pages

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Dana Islas has served as an early childhood teacher at a Title I school for the past fifteen years. In addition to teaching kindergarten, she is a Math Solutions consultant. Islas was a department editor for Teaching Children Mathematics, a journal published by NCTM. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and is the 2009 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching.

"We all know that high-quality early education improves the chances for low-income children. And, often, that high-quality early education springs form a priceless resource: a human being. And one such individual is a kindergarten teacher named Dana Islas."
"Award-Winning Teacher Speaks to Best in Education"
Arizona Daily Star, January 9, 2010

"Dana is the rare teacher who sees children as having the right to be a part of the learning process; she believes that young children can and should be involved in their own learning. Step inside How to Assess While You Teach Mathto see the real power of how formative assessment puts children at the center of learning"

Sheri Willebrand
President, California Mathematics Council

"The word assessment comes from the Latin assidere, which means “to sit by.” How to Assess While You Teach Math is an invitation to sit beside and listen to your young mathematicians. Dana starts by suggesting seven must-have practices for formative assessment and then provides integrated lessons that support the practices. She allows us to peek into her classroom as she interviews students, leads whole-group discussions, and uses her interactions with students to inform her teaching. Th e friendly format, endearing pictures, authentic student work, and Dana’s written voice are an incredible combination. I can’t decide which I would prefer—the chance for my daughter to be in Dana’s kindergarten class or the opportunity to be her teammate at Pueblo Gardens."

Beth Terry
Math specialist, Alexandria City Public Schools, Virginia
2004 PAEMST Awardee–Colorado

"How to Assess While You Teach Mathbrings formative assessment into the hands of classroom teachers with easy-to-implement and proven strategies. Using clear and practical approaches, Dana provides educators with the tools they need to uncover student understanding and misconceptions in order to provide purposeful instructional for all learners."

Sherry Parrish
Author of Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies

"How to Assess While You Teach Mathis a thoughtful and provocative resource focused on how much teachers can enhance the teaching and learning of mathematics by observing, interacting, and listening to children. Dana communicates the power of intentional planning by the teacher so that students can make mathematical discoveries and eventually represent those discoveries with mathematical notation. Th is valuable resource presents formative assessment as an integral process in getting access to students’ emerging mathematical ideas to guide and direct instruction. Respect for the power of students’ mathematical thinking permeates throughout."

Olga G. Torres
Presidential Awardee for Elementary Mathematics

How to Assess Intro

Individual Counting Assessment
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