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.
For the past 11 years, I have supported teachers in their use of Lexile as one resource when they consider both student’s reading levels and text complexity. The Lexile Framework for Reading comes from Metametrix and is used by numerous companies – Scholastic, NWEA, Follett, to name a few – to help students and teachers identify texts that would be appropriate for independent, guided and challenge reading. Metametrix is quick to point out that this Lexile score alone is not the sole determiner for text choice. What Lexile provides is an idea of the content students should be able to read and comprehend about 75% of the time based on vocabulary and sentence complexity.
For instance, consider helping a high school science teacher figure out that if the sole source of information for his students in one unit is the textbook, it may or may not be a useful resource for students in his classroom. Taking a minute to use the Lexile Analyzer to get some baseline information (beyond what the publisher said the “grade level” of the book was) about the text lead to the discovery that more than half of the students in the classroom would benefit from having additional sources of content at a variety of reading levels. There is nothing earth-shattering in the revelation, but definitely beneficial when the teacher (with the help of the media specialist) was able to gather a couple of other resources, making the content more accessible. Not to say that teachers aren’t doing this already, Lexile may just be an additional resource for these efforts.
Lexile seems to be a hot topic this month as a new school year gets set to begin. The point Paul Hankins makes in his blog about “the lex-aisle” is a vivid illustration of how any well-meaning tool can be used in ways in which it was not intended. (And I love this phrase as a reminder.) He references Kylene Beers’ blog where she reminds us of the five-finger method for children to use as they help themselves determine if they can read a book. Donalyn Miller shares her concern about the situations in which Lexile becomes the sole factor in book selection. I support all three points of view. For me, it is about triangulating the data…and teaching our students to do that as well.
What if a Lexile is a (starting) point? What if students are taught the five-finger method? Then what if we add in the factors Metametrix says Lexile doesn’t take into consideration: genre, theme, content, interest or quality? How would it look and what would it take to start with a student’s interest, use a Lexile and teach the student the five-finger method? Teachers and media specialists have ideas about the appropriateness of texts’ theme and content. They also have ideas about the quality of texts. How might we help students recognize and learn how to use a variety of tools (including Lexile) to assist them in their reading choices – activating them to own this piece of their learning?
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, 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.
Just had a chance to review Tami Bowlden’s new web site – ForTheTeachers.org. If you are a MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) user and looking for connections to Common Core Standards you will want to check this out. Tami has taken the DesCartes tool from NWEA which is aligned to Common Core and created a wealth of instructional ladders in three content areas – reading, math and language. Take a look and let us know what you think (post a comment here, please).
Plotting the depths of lakes and oceans – really interesting view (great infographic), inclusive of James Cameron’s “mysterious door”
What do recruiters look at when they peruse your resume? Eye-tracking software can tell us – For years I have used the style where my education is at the end. I’ll have to rethink that if sending my resume to a recruiter. There were six main points they focused on: name, current company and title, previous company and title, previous position start and end dates, current position start and end dates, and education.
New and hot off the press for Web Based MAP — NWEA has new, interactive e-learning to bring proctors, teachers, and other users up to speed quickly. (Not for client-server partners at this time.) It’s called MAP Essentials, and you can share it today with your staff. Coming soon, you will see more training modules. Also, the MAP Essentials link will be available directly from the MAP home page in place of the existing tutorials.
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