The Classroom Experiment – This 2 part television series from the BBC features the Hertswood School and Dylan Wiliam. This 10-week experiment shows what happens when theory and practice regarding formative assessment meet up in the classroom. “The results were astonishing; students … made twice the progress as others in the same year group.
If you haven’t been to the Teaching Channel yet, you might find this Stop Light technique interesting. Asking students to reflect and identify what stopped their learning in class today can provide the teacher with useful information to help answer the formative assessment question of “Where is the learner now?”
The entire September issue of Educational Leadership (ASCD) was about feedback, that key formative assessment strategy to help move the learner and learning forward. This article by Grant Wiggins – Seven Keys to Effective Feedback – was part of the issue.
Carol Dweck’s work on fixed and growth mindsets has been impactful for many teachers I have worked with over the past 6 years. That was when I first started sharing her ASCD article, The Perils and Promises of Praise. It is a short read that can really cause educators (and parent) to reflect on what they are saying. The 4 quick steps Carol shares on her site – How can you can from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset? – might be a useful conversation starter.
For my day job, I occasionally post on the topic of formative assessment. The NWEA blog also features posts about early learning and Common Core. You may want to check out the Teach.Learn.Grow. blog.
Bill Zima has a nice post where he implicitly links formative assessment to competency-based education. He lays out 5 things that come from good assessment that provides evidence of learning.
While there are many apps that can be used to support formative assessment in the classroom, these are a couple I have found. You’ll have to let me know how they work, as I have no “I” devices.
- BubbleSheet is an app that allows students to provide answers like an ASR (all student response system) using an iPod, iPad, or iPhone. This is like using ABCD cards on an Apple device. To use BubbleSheet, you must be in a school that is using MasteryConnect.
- Stick Pick takes crafts stick in a cup to a different level. Pick a student at random just by giving your device a shake or tapping the screen. Stick Pick suggests question starters for learners at different levels and also records how well students respond during classroom discussions.
FUSION, NWEA’s summer conference was this week. Wow! Had the opportunity to listen to and learn with amazing educators from around the world. “Celebrity” speakers were energizing. Dylan Wiliam and Siobhan Leahy talked about formative assessment and teacher learning communities. They shared the challenges to changing teacher behavior (habits), which is applicable to all habits. Guess what? It isn’t all that quick or easy. They also spoke to the need to support teachers in getting better – it has a direct effect on our kids and how they learn. Tom Guskey spoke about grading. What is our purpose in giving kids grades for everything they do? Vicky Bernhardt talked about data and school improvement. Who knew? The use of data supports school improvement. And MAK Mitchell talked about the value of consensus to a school community.
Educators shared wonderful stories…about growth in a Navajo school where school growth moved from a -5 growth index to a plus 6 (RIT scores) in one year! Or the reservation school outside Bismarck ND where a trial of mentoring a few students for a period of time resulted in 14-point RIT gain for those students…and when it was tried a second time (to prove it wasn’t a fluke) the average growth was 12 points.
Then there was Beth Cobb who was willing to talk to everyone about the magic that can happen when formative assessment becomes the way we teach in a school. Beth was a district professional development person when Keeping Learning on Track came to her district. She requested a class to teach so she could try out all the strategies and techniques the she was teaching to the teachers. She went on to be a district administrator who has taken this program to a new district. She shared experiences about students becoming advocates for their own learning; teachers supporting each other in the change process; and a climate change that moved beyond single classrooms, to encompass whole schools and the whole district.
Educators from around the world gathered to learn, share and reflect together – supporting NWEA’s mission of partnering to help all kids learn.
It is important to remember that being a good reader comes before being a good test taker and here is what the Book Whisperer has to say on that subject…
Like some of the work NWEA has done with the Bureau of Indian Education – Learning coaches are a recommendation from the Wallace Foundation…
…and in Danbury CT — Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor urged state residents to call for education reform this past Thursday. A shift from teacher-training lectures to coaching in the classroom and small group instruction would help educators improve their craft, he said. This “small group instruction” fits the Teacher Learning Community model well.
If you use MAP and want to understand more about the growth data, register for this free, NWEA webinar on April 18th. Dr. John Cronin, Director of the Kingsbury Center at NWEA, will explain the distinctions between projected growth and aspirational growth targets, and how to effectively use growth metrics to better understand your student learning outcomes.
The Colorado Growth Model and students at West Denver Prep – not just measuring achievement
Dylan Wiliam explains how formative assessment can improve teacher effectiveness and student learning in a new webinar, “Practical Techniques for Implementing Formative Assessment.” You can access this second in a series of three free webinars on formative assessment here.
Check out this case study and the use of MAP – Reversing Low Math Performance: A “Paradigm Shift” – Wayzata High School