Leadership – Education – Technology – Other Interesting Stuff

Posts tagged ‘formative assessment’

4 Formative Assessment Resources

  • From the Northern Ireland Curriculum site, this book, Assessment for Learning – A Practical Guide, is one of the growing number of resources available to teachers focused on changing their practice to get better at formative assessment
  • Personally, writing success criteria is one of the aspects of using formative assessment I am working on continually. This article shares some nice examples and makes me think about collaboration on rubrics.
  • Asking better questions and asking questions better is a big piece of eliciting evidence from your students. This is a nice infographic describing 6 types of questions to share with students as you support them in learning to be better askers.
  • Megan Valois’ blog about Why I spend way more time on formative assessment… is a fun perspective on a pedagogy change that makes a difference.

Gaming & Formative Assessment

It is hard to know where to start for back-to-school information. Do we wax philosophic or look at some clear goals? (I did reflect as I read the second blog.) Or just get back to work with new ideas, new tools and new perspectives? I am choosing to start with new perspectives.

As I read Matthew Farber’s post, Gamifying Student Engagement, and listened to Jane McGonigal’s TED talk about gaming making the world better, I was reminded of my use of Sim City in a middle school industrial science class. But that is a story for another time.

Matthew made me wonder if the “I do, we do, you do” strategy has given way or is moving towards – “The first “level” or “mission” is typically a constructivist tutorial.” This blog talks about the connections to PBL (Project Based Learning), student engagement and ownership, critical and creative thinking and also made me connect to classroom formative assessment.

Matthew and Jane got me wondering about…what “badges” we offer in the classroom. (There seems to be a connection to the formative assessment practice of students monitoring their own progress here.) How do we let kids “level-up” in our classrooms? (See previous parenthetical statement.) “Modding” was a new term to me, and once again, I was reminded of formative assessment. When I use pre-assessment, I sometimes discover that I need to allow students to change the learning opportunity to better meet their needs, so modify their learning.

Matt says,
In video games, players are encouraged to learn as they go. This is the very definition of constructivism. Constructivism makes learning meaningful and satisfying.

And guess what? So does the use of formative assessment.

Leave a comment a tell me how you plan to use classroom formative assessment this year.

Testing in the Movies and on Television

This blog is primarily for content curation. Sharing what I find with others is important to me. That said, every once in a while something strikes me and I have a need to do more than curate. In light of the climate today regarding testing, teacher evaluation, Common Core Standards and other emotion-filled topics it feels like I may be commenting a little more in the future. Having just read John Tierney’s recent piece – The Coming Revolution in Public Education – in The Atlantic, it does feel like we need to be thoughtful and share our thinking about what is happening in education, and that includes assessment.

Brett Foley and team shared a documentary this week – Testing in the Movies and on Television – at the NCME (National Council of Measurement in Education) meeting in San Francisco. Having worked with assessments for years and having both taken and given a few in my lifetime, I was curious. I watched it all – almost 50 minutes. The trailer (~1 min) provides a clue as to the major topics of the documentary, which include testing consequences, criticisms of testing, test anxiety, studying and test prep, psychometricians and cheating. This documentary covers 40 years of movie and TV clips regarding tests and testing. It conveys the negativity about testing conveyed via the media and where and how public opinion sits with this topic of assessment in general.

Being the advocate of formative assessment that I am, many of these perspectives or concerns about testing disappear in the classrooms and schools where teachers and students are actively collecting evidence of learning on a minute-to-minute basis and using it to adapt both learning and teaching. The day-by-day use of formative assessment strategies integrated into the instructional process help establish a classroom culture where “test” is no longer viewed as a 4-letter word, but rather an opportunity to “show what I know. “

In classrooms where formative assessment is fully integrated, Leslie Lambert tells us it is difficult to tell when instruction stops and assessment begins. This is a far cry from clips in the documentary. And yet, how many of us had an experience or two just like those depicted in the film? What does it take to change public opinion and offer new opportunities and perspectives to the public?

The segment on cheating caught my attention because establishing a culture in classrooms where making mistakes is a part of learning – expected and OK, certainly helps eliminate the need to cheat, along with the pressure to remember. Wasn’t “phone-a-friend” really created for use in the classroom? (smile). And I do have to say that some of the psychometricians I have met are really nice folks, who can speak English and translate statics is such a way that a layperson can understand.

Purpose and use of assessment is always important to consider, along with what educators value and believe as compared to their current reality. There are times when the negativity in the documentary really gives faces to the disconnect between purpose of the assessment and how the data are used. How often are educators put in the situation of using the results of an assessment for a purpose other than was intended by the test developers?

The goal of the documentary is to start public dialogue about the appropriate use of tests. That goal is important for all of us. The dialogue has started on many fronts and it is time for additional voices to be added. Be part of the cacophony about assessment. What are your take-aways from this video? Come back here and let us know.

The blog for my day job focuses on formative assessment, if that is an area of interest for you.

You may also want to check out Raymond Yeagley’s comments on this topic.

Formative Assessment…one of my favorite topics

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.


Infographics…Educators Online…Snow Globes

Jeff Clark has taken the concept of analyzing text in some vastly more refined directions than tag clouds and wordles. His recent post – Novel Views: Les Miserables – displays character mentions, word connections, word clouds and characteristic verbs (for primary characters).

Made me curious about how kids would respond to tasks like these – a DIY experiment of how graphs can be represented with paper – not on paper, but with paper. You might chuckle over the “pie chart already eaten” link. Or the origami pieces that represent the world internet usage statistics.

The 2013 Gallup Student Poll on student engagement takes place between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1. Participation is free and interested schools can find more information about the poll here. The 2012 results showed that student engagement lessens with each grade. What leads to disengagement for students in your setting? While many have written about student engagement, the use of formative assessment practices is one way to get the classroom learning team engaged – peers serving as instructional resources, student directing their own learning based on where they need and want to go and the feedback they receive along the way, teachers adjusting during instruction as they learn more about what students know and don’t know.

Renee Jain’s post on resilience connects to a couple of other topics for me – student engagement and coaching. Our cognitive style connects to both, as does self-awareness. Self-awareness is also a piece of formative assessment; students know where they are in their learning and being able to outline the course to get them where they want to be.

John Klugin recommends some free tech tools for educators – enhanced video production, more efficient storage, Slide Rocket – a presentation tool and Symbaloo for establishing a web presence.

Having recently started an online course through Powerful Learning Practice, I was surprised to find this FETC article – Bringing Passion and Collaboration to Professional Development. This quote from Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach in the article – “One of the things I tell [teachers] is that I don’t want you to change anything about your teaching. I want you to change everything about your learning, and do that first.”  Gives you something to consider…

This short report – 8 Helpful Tech Tools for the Common Core – has some useful sites for teachers implementing CCSS.

Are you an educator using Pinterest like me? If so you may want to check this out – The 25 Best Pinterest Boards in Educational Technology. It is clear I need to be updating my boards soon!

This descriptor – The Khan Academy videos made a stir when they arrived on the educational stage. But are they a paradigm shift or an old model in new clothes? – caught my attention in THE Journal. If you are interested, check out The Math of Khan in the latest issue. Peter Kelman’s comments about “amateur educators” are interesting. Both sides of the coin are shared in the article, along with how schools and districts are using Khan Academy.

See your house in a snow globe!?!?! This came from a friend (and you may have already seen it) with this note, “I’m sure they used Google Earth, or a similar program. But it is clever!” But how in the world could this be – from a front view???

Online science items…What parents want from assessment…Connected educators

Looking for interactive science items to engage your students? Check out these NAEP-released items which are both interactive computer and hands-on tasks. (Grades 4, 8 and 12, of course)

Check out this infographic about assessment gleaned from the a research study done by Grunwald Associates for NWEA. It’s about what parents and educators want from assessment – both formative and summative.

A new project from the U.S. Department of Education focusing on online communities in education – Connected Educators. The project seeks to foster innovation by helping online communities reach more education professionals, deepen the level of participation among educators already involved, and increase collaboration among education communities. All of this is to be accomplished by working with existing online communities, collecting and sharing good practices and researching key online community issues.

FUSION 2012 with NWEA

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.

Tag Cloud