Julio, how did you end up at Innovamat?
I studied Teaching at the University of Barcelona (UB) and in my last year I specialized in mathematics. I studied many subjects on mathematics education that I really liked. After that I worked as a teacher and specialist in mathematics in a primary school for 7 years. That’s when I met Innovamat, when they came to present the project to the school. Although I had been substituting ‘editorials’ with my own material in my classes for some time, the vision they had of mathematics education and the speeches the experts gave got me interested in the project. I started using Innovamat and I offered to give them feedback in my spare time. Two years ago, I realized that, working at Innovamat, my work could have a greater impact on the teaching community and children’s learning. So I joined the team.
Currently, you lead the Assessment team at Innovamat. Why is it so important to us?
To really help teachers do their jobs, not only do we need to provide them with activities and training to manage these activities; we also need to deal with assessment issues. We work hand in hand with schools, teachers and experts, developing the theoretical framework and various prototype assessment tools that we test in the classroom.
One thing I like is that, since there are more than 300 of us dedicated exclusively to the teaching of mathematics, we can devote resources to study the teaching sequencing of all content and competencies of this subject in depth. This leads to, for example, having an increasingly efficient algorithm for our app.
What has changed from traditional assessment to formative assessment?
There are two types of assessment: graded, which understands assessment as a means to check what the student has learned and score it with a numerical grade, and formative, which from the perspective of the mathematics education is much more important and effective, since it allows us to develop the metacognitive process of the student and provide it with tools so that it can self-regulate and be independent.
How are competencies assessed?
If we understand competencies not only as content, but also processes (problem-solving, connections, etc.), it becomes obvious that they require the teacher having a very active role.
That is why it is so important to train teachers in assessment and give them tools that help them see the processes that students acquire.
It seems that it is not easy, let alone objective. How can we do it?
To assess the processes, teachers are not asked for a numerical grade, but a qualitative grade and a written comment. This is where we realize that we cannot be 100% objective. However, detailing each of the processes very well and complementing it with the assessment of the content can help us to be more objective. Whenever we explain the students’ situation, we not only assess processes abstractly, but we do it together with the content.
What tools do we offer to facilitate assessment?
The most valuable thing we have right now are the training days, webinars and training capsules in the Manager.
But we also have a number of specific tools designed to help with assessment. Some examples include comments in the guides to collect evidence to develop processes during a classroom activity, assessable tasks at the end of each section, including tips, or weekly reports generated by the app, with content breakdowns even for each student. In addition, we are working on some new features.
Could you tell us about any of these developments?
Right now, the most important project we’re working on is creating a learning path that will encompass all aspects of mathematics. We are also working on an educational sequence of the processes. And lastly, we are working on new assessment instruments that will provide information about the student’s situation, concerning both content and processes.