Throughout a Math Unit, students need formal and informal opportunities to have their mathematical thinking understood by an expert, who responds in ways that will lead to greater learning. Cool-downs are these formal opportunities; formative assessments for learning. Cool-downs typically take place after each Illustrative Mathematics lesson and should be used to gauge students’ conceptual learning that has occurred as a result of that instruction. In other words, cool-downs are defined the same in Math Units as they are in Projects; however, in Math Units, they are often used more like short checks for understanding, similar to exit tickets.
Once cool-downs have occurred, teachers should use them to decide the highest-leverage next steps for individual students, groups of students, and/or an entire class of students. The appropriate next steps may vary widely, but could include any of the following: giving individual written feedback to students on their cool-down responses, giving formative scores on concept rubrics, making groupings for the next lesson, deviating from the unit plan to select an appropriate task that will highlight a common misconception, planning brief 1:1 check-ins with students to follow up on misconceptions, and so on. The teacher is best positioned to take all relevant factors into account and know which next steps are appropriate.