Using TACK for Math Instruction

19 March 2014
Just before the March Break, I found a bulletin board idea for math goals on Mrs. Beattie's blog.  She has been using the categories on the Math Achievement Chart (Ontario Curriculum) in a similar way to the CAFE board - keeping track of lesson goals and success criteria for mathematics through the acronym, T.A.C.K.  I LOVED it!  I knew I wanted to create something similar for my classroom because we have also been working on this as a school focus.

The acronym T.A.C.K refers to the 4 categories on our Math Achievement Chart:
  • Thinking - The use of critical and creative planning, thinking, and processing skills
  • Application - The use of knowledge and skills to make connections within and between various contexts
  • Communication - The conveying of meaning through various forms
  • Knowledge / Understanding - Subject specific content acquired, and the comprehension of its meaning
Over the break I worked to set up my board, and we started implementing it on Monday.

I will be using the "K" to post our daily learning goals - and how the students will show they can successfully show mastery of the goals.  It will list all the goals for a particular unit, then I will probably take down the goals and start fresh under this category when we start a new unit (we've just started our fraction unit).  The "T.A.C." will be more cumulative.  It's still quite new to me, so I am working through the content I will include under the other categories.  Thinking will be about how we plan to solve a problem - and how we choose what strategies to use.  Application may be about the actual use of the strategies, and Communication will focus on the different ways we can show our mastery of the knowledge expectations.  It's definitely a work in progress, but I really like how it's so similar to our CAFE (CRAFT) board, which my students know and refer to often.  Having that familiar format makes the task a lot less daunting to me ... and hopefully them, as well.

If you're interested, I've uploaded the T.A.C.K. headers to google drive.  You can grab a copy HERE.

In keeping with aligning everything to the achievement chart, I've also started to work on my formative assessments for each expectation.  I'm working on creating assessments that include all 4 categories, and I added a cross-strand problem, as well.  This is DEFINITELY a work in progress ... and I'm still working through it all - I'm having some difficulties separating thinking from "knowledge" or "application", depending on the question I've chosen.  But ... I'll keep at it, and hopefully "get it" soon ... I definitely know how some of my students feel when they are struggling.  ;)  Here's a peek at one we worked on today.

I'm also differentiating the sheets by including 3 different "levels" for each expectation (which came in handy today for one of my kiddos).  Definitely a lot of work, but if it helps the students understand on a deeper level, then it's worth it.

So, that's about it.  Now you know how I've been spending my nights ... ;)

Happy Wednesday!


  1. Thanks for the TACK headers. They are awesome.

  2. I love this! I'm hesitant to start something brand new right now (9 instructional days before our state testing), but would love to follow your journey and give it a shot when we're not in crunch mode.

  3. Wow, this post was great and very informative! I'm going to have to try it out this coming Monday. Are the fraction sheets on the last photo part of your Interactive Math Journal? We are working on fractions now and I would love to buy them and use them in my classroom!! =)

  4. Wish I was teaching my math; regardless I'll be keeping an eye on what you're doing!!

  5. You are an amazing teacher! Your creativity and dedication to your craft knows no bounds!
    Thank you.

  6. your work is fantastic! thanks for sharing, mary

  7. LOVE your thinking. I am in crunch mode for 7 more instructional days before Nevada's state exams. While I walk around in circles during their testing, I will be mentally planning! :)

  8. Jen - I love this! Our 4/5 team just started a Math PLC too... and thought this would be a great way to provide ongoing evidence to the powers that be. Have you had a chance to figure out what you'll put under the T, A & C headings yet? I like how they match up (quite nicely too!) to the 4-Step Problem Solving Method... and can see using it to track their ideas and thinking while solving problems... but can't figure out how to use them within the scope of a regular 3-part direct teaching lesson. Thoughts?

    1. I use the T for CUBES, then they choose a strategy from application to solve the problem. I have a list of things under communication to help the students clearly explain their thinking e.g., use labels, use a drawing . Hope this helps.

  9. Looks awesome, Jen! So glad you found the post useful! :)

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

  10. This looks amazing! I love it! Are you planning on posting those awesome Math Assessment sheets on TPT? I would love a copy of them, they look awesome.

  11. Thanks for sharing this. It is a great idea, and I will be implementing this in my math classroom! I've always had a hard time explaining the difference between what I am looking for when it comes to thinking vs. application. Any suggestions?

  12. Thank you so much for sharing. I am a grade 3 teacher in Ontario and this is great for helping my students work through their math journal prompt, and helps them set their math goal. Under application I put problem strategy posters from eworkshop. Under communication I put things the students can do to clearly and thoroughly communicate thinking e.g., use labels, answer the question in a sentence, use math words. The board turned out great thanks to your headers. I love your ideas, and I think you are are great teacher.

  13. I am going to try to implement TACK this coming year. It looks amazing. Part of it I was going to implement on my own, not even knowing about this strategy. Do you happen to have the Formative Assessment Sheets available per Standard you have created in three different levels?

    Your resources are amazing! Keep up the great work!

  14. Hi Jen,
    Thank you so much for the blog. I am curious to know if you have the fractions assessments available for purchase? I will be teaching a 4/5 split and this would be an incredible starting point for redoing how I assess the students.


  15. thanks for the freebie! Wondering if you've posted these math sheets with the 4 categories that you've created?

  16. Have you posted your TACK assessment sheets like the fraction ones shown above anywhere?