The following is an excerpt from my new book, 'Tween Crayons and Curfews: Tips for Middle School Teachers, I share what I call “lesson trails,” step-by-step activities that I routinely use in my class
Daniel Rimmereid's insight:
This article takes a different approach to multiple choice questions and challenges the status-quo. Typically after tests are taken students will then empty their brain of any of the knowledge they just learned and never think of the test again unless they are looking at their overall course grade. This is a problem that needs fixing and can be fixed by a few simple yet very innovative strategies. If students take the time to reflect on their tests they can learn a lot about what they missed and why they missed it. Something that I think is very valuable that I want to take away from this article and implement into my own classroom would be to use the testing scores to motive my students. At the end the author talks about having students create graphs to chart their goals and progress throughout the year. This way they can see how they are doing and reflect on how they want to improve.
Implementing formative assessment in the classroom is easier when using digital technology tools. Here are some to consider.
Daniel Rimmereid's insight:
This is a great website that offers teachers with a list of great websites that can help them introduce formative assessment using technology into their classrooms. It can be hard to find ways to use technology especially efficiently. These websites offer strategies that help teachers to use technology for formative assessment in a way that will engage students but also be efficient with the time that you as a teacher have. One strategy that I thought was very helpful was using google forms. These forms could be extremely helpful in formative assessment. One example would be creating a form that students could answer questions about the lesson for that day. These forms can be organized easily to help the teacher see how the students are doing at a classroom level and at an individual level.
This blog post by Larry Ferlazzo is a great resource. On this blog he gives a short synopsis of what formative assessment is and then he creates a sort of “best of” list of the websites and articles that have helped him think and plan for formative assessment. I think something that he has taught me has been showing me all that formative assessment can teach. It not only helps the students know where they are at but more importantly lets the teacher know where their students are at. It is very important for teachers to not just formally assess their students but to then take the information and let it change the way they are teaching. This will allow a teacher to react to changes and better help their students learn the material.
Almost 25 years ago, I wrote a widely-read and discussed paper that was entitled: “A True Test: Toward More Authentic and Equitable Assessment” that was published in the Phi Delta Kappan. I believe the phrase was my coining, made when I worked with Ted Sizer at the Coalition of Essential Schools, as a way of describing “true” tests as opposed to merely academic and unrealistic school tests. I first used the phrase in print in an article for Educational Leadership entitled “Teaching to the (Authentic) Test” in the April 1989 issue.
This article offers great insight into what authentic assessment is. It was very helpful in telling me precisely what authentic assessment is and how it can be used in the classroom. The author’s main point is that many people and educators have ruined the meaning of authentic assessment so he wants to clear the air and be very direct with his definition of authentic assessment. It will certainly try to implement authentic assessment into my classroom and teaching. Authentic assessment is much needed in our “standardized testing world.” If a teacher uses authentic assessment right they can help their students more fully and deeply understand the material they are being assessed on as well as grow in many “real world” skills. Authentic assessment provides a way in which students can take ownership of what they have learned and how they can apply it.
This is a great resource that really describes clearly and concisely what makes a great assessment but it took it one step further by talking about rigor. The first point is that good assessments need to be appropriate. This talks about how the assessment needs to be about what students learned but more importantly it needs to talk about and address what the students learned in a challenging way. If the assessment is too easy then students will not be truly assessed on the material and thus the assessment will be weak. The second point is that assessment needs to be purposeful. It is good for your students to finish an assessment and for them to clearly see what they have produced from that assessment. The third point is that the assessment should allow students to come away with some deeper form of understanding on the topic. I think something that I have taken away from this article is that assessment can be a great tool for deepening students understanding and really giving them something to be able to look back and know that they have accomplished something.
Making classroom quizzes more interactive can be an easy and fun way to do the same checks on understanding and comprehension without hearing the inevitable groans from the students.
Daniel Rimmereid's insight:
Quizzes can be a hard thing to motivate students to care about. They are a hard thing to have creativity with the way they are presented and how to motivate students to do their best. This article gives helpful and practical ways in which to use technology to change the way quizzes are presented. One way that I want to implement the changes in the quizzes that I give out is through eClicker. It is an online tool that you can send to student’s mobile devices or computers. This could be a great way to assess students formatively or summatively. The change will help students to have fun while doing something that normally has a negative connotation.
This is a great article by Rick Wormeli. In it Rick talks about the needs for formative assessment and the ways in which it has been misused. He talks about how often the term formative assessment is misrepresented and he warns against turning the word into something that it is not. If you need a great overview of formative assessment then this article is a great resource for you. Something that I really enjoyed and took away from the article was when he talked about best practices for keeping track of the material that a teacher learns from formative assessment. This is something that I haven’t really thought about. He talks about using a clipboard for taking notes of the things that you learn as you are teaching. He also suggests using sticky notes to keep track of different observations that are made throughout the day that can be recorded electronically later.
This was a neat little info graphic that gave some quick little snippets of insight into formative assessment. A point I liked was, “formative assessment is not a part of the grading process but it is a part of the instructional process.” I thought this was very helpful to think about, and a nice way to summarize the difference between formative and summative assessment. I also really like how the info graphic had ideas for formative assessment with and without technology. One of the suggestions for without technology was to have students fill out an exit ticket to allow them to leave. They had to write out one thing they learned from the lesson or some teachers can make their students summarize the lesson in a paragraph. One of my favorite technological formative assessments was when the teacher made a hashtag on twitter for students to use as a discussion forum.
One of my favorite stories concerns the legendary basketball coach John Wooden. He always gave himself a research project in the off season. As recounted in the insightful and practical book You Haven’t Taught If They Haven’t Learned, one year Wooden’s UCLA Bruins had done a poor job at shooting fouls. What did Wooden do? Call up the coaches of the best foul-shooting teams as well as the best-shooting players to find out what they did in practice. He learned a vital lesson: too often, foul-shooting was not done under game conditions in every day practice.
This great resource talked about the value of pre and post assessment. That is giving a form of assessment at the beginning of the teaching time period and then giving the same assessment at the end. This was something that I have thought about very little. I think it is a great tool that can be used to really check and see if your students have learned the key targets that you wanted them to learn. I think that it can be very insightful for the teacher because it will help to show just how much students have learned over the course of the year and things they maybe didn’t learn as well. It can also be helpful for the students to see what they have learned and realized that they have accomplished something. It just requires that teachers follow through with it.
As I have been looking through different assessment strategies I have been seeing a lot of creative ways for formative assessment and not as many creative ways for summative assessment. This website helps to fill in that gap. This has an extensive list of many different and creative ways to assess in a summative way, for example using the garage band program on computers to create a podcast of the things that students have learned for that unit. Students can also create a wiki or a Wikipedia page about a deeper subject within the unit that you just covered. It could be great way to help students better understand tertiary sources. It could also be a great way to help them learn how to research and summarize facts that they have found about certain subjects.
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