Using the Plus Minus Interesting Assessment Tool

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Using the PMI Assessment Tool

Assessment FOR, OF, and AS logo

Bayswater South Primary School

This tool was trialled at Bayswater South Primary School by Astrid May with Year 2 Literacy and SOSE.

I used this assessment tool:

  • to assess and reflect on our excursion to Werribee Zoo - African Animals
  • to identify areas to focus on
  • to identify the gaps in this unit of work.

The PMI is a simple, effective tool to use in the classroom.

I used the tool in the following way:

  • to evaluate the appropriateness of the excursion for our Year 2 students
  • to see what the children were interested in
  • to find out what they learned from the excursion
  • to see if there were any negative aspects to the experiences so far.

It was very useful for identifying 'gaps' in their responses and learning. The results clearly indicated areas of interest and enjoyment for the students. I am now better able to know where, what and how the content of our work might be directed. As well as identifying other areas the students would like to know or investigate.

We could improve the usefulness of this tool by:

  • asking more specific questions across the PMI for some tasks.

You could use this tool:

  • to record group responses on a class chart and for students to share experiences with their peers. It might be interesting to do a PMI at the beginning of a topic and then at the end of the same topic and perhaps graph or chart student’s learning.

Whorouly Primary School

This tool was trialled at Whorouly Primary School by Sue Minchinton with Year 3 and 4 Literacy.

I used this assessment tool:

  • so students could reflect on their learning during a unit on a book report.

I used the tool in the following way:

  • The students worked in pairs or groups to discuss their learning from the book report activity that the class had just completed. I also wanted to evaluate how useful the book report was as a learning activity. The students enjoyed the process and had no difficulty responding to the PMI tool.

I could improve the usefulness of this tool by:

  • making the ‘interesting’ column more specific with questions that extend the students' thinking from various angles.

You could use this tool:

  • at the beginning of the class projects or themes and at the end of them for comparison.

Chilwell Primary School

This tool was trialled at Chilwell Primary School by Debra Hose with Year 3 Science.

I used this assessment tool:

  • to reflect on the Science topic we had undertaken, The Earth in a Spin. It was an extremely useful tool as it gave students the opportunity to reflect on the topic studied and discuss their thoughts and ideas about the topic. It highlighted the activities that were highly successful and any that needed to be further developed.

I used the tool in the following way:

On completion of the topic, I used the PMI as during a group discussion activity and recorded students' responses. The columns were drawn on a large piece of paper and headings placed in each column. I explained the activity to the students and then recorded the discussion in the appropriate columns. The discussion was productive and generated an excellent overview of the topic. All comments were placed on the chart. The results gave our Grade 3 and 4 teachers an excellent indication of which activities in the unit were successful and promoted learning.

The tool worked extremely well with the whole group and was easily understood by the students.

You could use this tool:

  • as an individual or small group tool as well as for a whole class reflection.

Horsham Secondary College

This tool was trialled at Horsham Secondary College by Lyn Sudholz with Year 10 English and Shannon Robinson with Year 9 Health.

We used this assessment tool:

Year 10 English

  • to gauge the students’ knowledge of and attitudes towards Shakespeare. This tool was used before and after the study.
Year 9 Health
  • for students to think through and compare opposing reasons for making a decision.

We used the tool in the following way:

Year 10 English

I discussed with the class that they would, in fact, find value in studying 'Macbeth' and even enjoy the journey. I knew that many students began with a negative approach to Shakespeare. After they had completed a comprehensive study of the play, the PMI indicated a high level of engagement and an appreciation for the styles of learning the class pursued.

Year 9 Health

I used the PMI as a tool to help students identify reasons for choosing to have sex or not. 'I' was still used for ‘interesting’ but dealt more with influences on our decision. Students completed each column separately and were given the number of responses required for each column. The results were collated on the board and discussed. It was noted the reasons could be grouped into larger categories. I used the PMI as a thinking tool and I noted the students’ ability to think critically and openly.

We could improve the usefulness of this tool by:

  • having more specific instructions on the 'I' column.

You could use this tool:

  • for excursions, presentations, reflection on group effectiveness or peer assessment and staff Professional Development. It is a great tool to formalise reflection and many staff have decided to use it in their classes.

Drouin Primary School

This tool was trialled at Drouin Primary School by Jo Osler with Years 5 and 6.

I used this assessment tool:

  • for students and teachers to reflect on:
    • the tasks involved in the session
    • levels of student interest, engagement and enjoyment
    • their decision-making, the choices they had and the impact their decisions have on their learning and work
    • other possible ways they could have completed the task.

I asked students to reflect on different stages of the teamwork task and make comments using the PMI about each of the stages of our teamwork model which included, gathering, planning, working, team-monitoring, and presenting.

I used the tool in the following way:

I used the tool to explore student thoughts about an open-ended maths and literacy challenge.

The task required teams of three students to explore the way bubbles move and how far they can travel. Students had to record what they had observed, including details about the methods they used. Each team had to record this in a way that could be effectively presented to the rest of the class.

I modified the PMI by changing the 'I' column to try and encourage further thinking and exploration. Instead of Interesting, I call the 'I' column ‘I wonder...’ Often the comments or questions in this column result in the greatest discussion because students are encouraged to think beyond the work they did. In this lesson students thought of many other ways of exploring the focus question about bubbles. I realised that this column made the students think about the session at a much deeper level than the other two columns.

I used the results of the PMI to plan further open-ended challenges about bubbles. Students really planned these themselves and what started as a lesson turned out to be a unit of work, developed mainly by the students' ideas.

I could improve the usefulness of this tool by:

  • changing the last column to suit the needs in my class. I find that ‘Interesting’ in the last column doesn't encourage deep thinking, students just try and find something to put in there and often it is a repeat of the ‘P’ column. I find ‘I wonder…’ encourages much deeper thinking and much better discussion.

You could use this tool:

  • to encourage students to evaluate books they have read, presentations they have done to the class, to self-assess their work, to evaluate a unit of work, to assess some aspect of our classroom routine.

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