Formative assessment or assessment for learning is a proven strategy to improve student achievement.
Mel Riddile's insight:
“Formative assessment is a planned process in which teachers or students use assessment-based evidence to adjust what they're currently doing.
• Formative assessment is a planned process in which assessment-elicited evidence of students' status is used by teachers to adjust their ongoing instructional procedures or by students to adjust their current learning tactics.
• Because formative assessment has been shown to improve students' in-class learning, many educators have adopted it in the hope that it will also raise their students' performances on accountability tests.
• The expanded use of formative assessment is supported not only by instructional logic but also by the conclusions of a well-conceived and skillfully implemented meta-analysis by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam.” (Popham, 2008)After synthesizing over 250 publications, Black and Wiliam, concluded that formative assessment is perhaps the most effective educational practice when it comes to improving academic achievement. In addition, formative assessment has a disproportionately beneficial impact on low‐achieving students. http://www.hanoverresearch.com/media/The-Impact-of-Formative-Assessment-and-Learning-Intentions-on-Student-Achievement.pdfIn
In 2009, JohnHattie published a meta-meta-analysis of education research called Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. In that study, Hattie found that formative assessment, when done correctly, had the highest effect size on student learning compared with other classroom strategies.
In recent years, neuroscientists have reported that retrievalpractice—recalling and applying previously learning—had a huge impact (as much as 50%) on student retention of learned content. Combining retrieval practice and formative assessment can significantly reduce forgetting and increase retention of lesson content.
Each school’s instructional framework provides teachers with numerous opportunities to use formative assessments in the beginning and ending of a lesson as well as when engaging students and during student practice in the body of the lesson. Teachers use formative assessment to see if the students have mastered the content of the lesson—did they get it?
Note that mastery means that the students can demonstrate both that they ‘know’ the content and that they can apply what they learned to future or past learning.
Formative Assessment in the Beginning and Ending of the Lesson
• Purposeful Learning – The expectation that all activities be purposeful means that teachers always have something to check on or assess for understanding.
• Focusing (Beginning) – Ask students to demonstrate mastery of the previous lesson through bell ringer, do now, or warm up.
• Knowing the Lesson’s Purpose (Beginning) – Ask students to repeat the learning target or essential question in their own words
• Ask students to predict (“prediction effect”) the “why” of the learning target/essential question (Beginning).
• Use a closure activity or ‘exit ticket’ that asks more than comprehension level, regurgitation questions. Ask students to both recall (retrieval practice) and apply what they learned to future or past learning (Ending).
• Purposeful reading, writing, and discussion - Reflection of some kind that addresses learning using evidence from the lesson that connects the learning to something else (Ending).
Formative Assessment in the Body of the Lesson (Practicing and Engagement)
• Connection activities that ask students to link new learning to older learning• Visualization activities where students draw some concept that has been learned
• Question design - ask kids to write their own questions with different levels of Bloom's involved
• Game play where appropriate can be a great tool as well• Blog writing as a reflective or questioning tool
• Mentor activities that ask the student to create something original using the learning as a model
• Problem solving activities where students apply skills to arrive at a solutionIf students can complete any or all of the above, then we know they have demonstrated proficiency on some level. As we seek to move kids to mastery, we need to be acutely aware of their progress.
Dani Quinnis a math teacher at the Michaela Schoolin London. We recently video-taped her lesson and, in watching, I was struck right away by her Check for Understanding. She constantly used Show Me (technique #5 in TLaC) to assess students as she taught and she used that data to guide her lesson. And she strove to build a culture where students were comfortable learning form their errors- an idea I call Culture of Error (technique #8 in TLaC). I cut two examples to try to show why and how she was so effective, and oddly I am going to show them to you in reverse order.
Cold Call , as you probably know if you read this blog regularly, is one of my favorite techniques– meaning that it’s one of the techniques that has the greatest potential to increase the rigor and engagement in a classroom. I also love that it can be used by almost any teacher, and in concert with almost any other approach. You don’t have to change everything about your class to enjoy the benefits of it. You can do what you do and add Cold Call to it tomorrow.
There are six core principles that organizations, senior leaders, and those involved in the transformation task force must embrace throughout the process.
The change vision must come in many forms, and you must be able to communicate it in both short and long form. If you can't articulate a powerful vision in five minutes or less, in which the listener understands and can envision the outcome, you need to go back to the drawing board.
I have seen this go sideways when a leadership team invests many hours in developing a great vision that will align with a solid plan of attack, but then they assume they can communicate this vision in five or 10 minutes at the company meeting. If it takes a long time to develop the change vision, it will also take a long time to communicate it until it sinks in. Keep it simple, and plan to overcommunicate.
As leaders, it is our job to get as many people as possible to start the journey, and we do this by creating inspiring visions and providing positive feedback and recognition at the earliest stages.
Recognition is one of the most powerful tools we have, and we should look to use it lavishly, rather than sparingly.
In my experience, the amount of success achieved is proportional to the amount of recognition provided. If you only provide a little at the end when people have been successful, then you will have very little success.
The purpose of recognition is not about recognizing the job that people have just done; it's about encouraging them for the great job that they are going to do.
Something needs to change, and you think you know how. In other words, you've got a vision, and now you just need to sell it to other people. To help you out, there are two basic facts of psychology you need to know. First, persuading anybody of anything means connecting with what matters to them already. And second, when it comes to what matters to people—in other words, what motivates them—most people fall along a spectrum.
There are people who tend to be more motivated by preventing loss, while others are more driven by pursuing gains. Our relative positions on that spectrum aren't fixed; we tend to move along it according to circumstances. But when it comes to getting buy-in, it's useful to think of your audience as made up of two groups: "protectors" and "innovators." Here's how to win them both over, in this order:
I understand the current emphasis on having students close read a complex text and struggle to make meaning. That may certainly be an appropriate educational experience for short texts such as poems or stories.
It is not a bad thing to engage in productive struggle to comprehend a text. The difficulty is when the struggle is not productive and is, instead, a source of frustration. This causes readers to abandon texts or to hate reading.
But team effort, a shared sense of responsibility, and an emphasis on assessment fueled the school's turnaround, Riddile and school personnel agree. As science chair Sherry Singer notes, "We're all extraordinarily aware of literacy here."
A new report says many low-income or minority students are still falling by the educational wayside, but some districts are finding ways to succeed with those students. The report focuses on those success stories.
Mel Riddile's insight:
But the district says students and teachers stay highly focused on clear objectives for every subject. Those standards are written and posted on nearly every classroom wall and are not considered mere guidelines, said Brenda Krage, Platte Canyon’s superintendent.
“These state standards are very visible here,” Krage said. “We make sure students understand what is expected of them and what teachers are trying to teach. That’s very intentional on our part.”
Yet a strong, positive school climate may help counter that upheaval, suggests a new study of California middle school students. Researchers from the Regional Educational Lab West found that 7th graders' math and reading scores rose and fell over time with their belief that their schools had a welcoming climate.
Researchers looked at 7th graders' reports of school climate—including feelings of safety and connection, caring relationships with adults, meaningful student participation, and low rates of bullying, drug use, delinquency and discrimination at school—at 1,000 California middle schools, from 2004-05 through 2010-11. The schools are part of the regional lab's School Climate Alliance, a network of schools that share and analyze their student safety and engagement information to plan improvement strategies.
Stepping into a leadership role can be fairly daunting, regardless of whether the person has previous experience or not. A new building or district role can bring in new personnel issues, new initiatives, and a whole new staff to get to know and understand. This all happens when we ask them to be instructional and collaborative leaders. It's a lot to handle and is not for the faint of heart.
A few months ago I posted a couple of blogs on leadership coaching. One was inspired by the thought that if coaching is so powerful why aren't more leaders being coached. After all, if leadership is so complicated, why don't we offer more coaching opportunities to help those in leadership positions to be more successful in the role. The next blog post on coaching leaders focused on 5 reasons leaders need coaches. At the end of that one, I posted a link for readers to fill out a survey asking why they would want to be coached, and what their priorities would be if they were coached.
Are great teaching and assessment fundamentally at odds? One might think so because, unfortunately, the words “test” and “assessment” are often used interchangeably. When we think about testing, we sometimes visualize sharpened pencils and Scantron machines. Worse yet are expectations that teachers
Mel Riddile's insight:
"assessment, when done well, can inform teaching and learning without taking away from instructional time."
Fewer states require students to pass a test to graduate from high school. • Twelve states require students to pass a test in order to receive a high school diploma, two fewer than last year. In most of those states, students must sit for a standardized test, or they can choose among several standardized tests. In some states, students have a menu of options by which they can earn diplomas, including doing extended projects or presenting a portfolio of work. But they still must demonstrate mastery in those presentations to get a diploma.
This technique (No. 39 in Doug Lemov’s excellent ‘Teach Like a Champion‘) is dead simple and does what it says on the tin. You simply ask children to repeat something until they do it properly. It could be that they’ve called out an answer without raising their hand, made a half-hearted attempt to complete a task or to a whole class who didn’t get it quite right when walking through a corridor. No lectures, sanctions, raised voice or blood pressure; just repeating it until it’s right. You can even praise or thank the children when they do it right to further cement the habit.
according to a study recently published in the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, compliments in particular aren’t just motivation for the people receiving them — they can also have a powerful effect on the bystanders, the ones who watch their peers earning praise while they’re left by the wayside
As I collected the student work from the period, and then subsequently read what had been turned in, I wracked my brain for what I could have done to make it more successful. I do this a lot.
Before every class, I email my students my lesson plan. I provide them supplemental materials to help with scaffolding and differentiation. Expectations are again reviewed at the beginning of class as well as written on the white board and/or projected by ELMO. There's a long enough pause to take questions and for me to remind them of the expectations and then it's off to work if no formal lesson is happening in those beginning moments.
Remember these major steps of effective formative assessment.
Clarify learning goals and criteria for success; Plan and implement instructional activities that include the gathering of evidence of learning; Analyze the evidence and provide rich, descriptive, actionable feedback; Adjust instructional/learning activities to address learning gaps; Involve students in self-evaluation; Activate students’ peers as resources for learning.
The Power of the Walk-and-Talk Technique Jim Peterson Why Walk and Talk with a Student? Many recent studies have found that the teacher-student relationship outweighs most other factors that influence student achievement and that are within the teacher’s control. Psychological Benefits to the Walk and Talk There are multiple psychological benefits to “walking and talking”: “Body mirroring” is a technique that builds rapport between two individuals. The intent of body mirroring is to have your posture (i.e. leaning forward or backward in a chair, legs crossed or not crossed, etc.) subtly reflect that of the person with whom you’re communicating. This congruence between two individuals facilitates rapport building. Mirroring the body language of a student while sitting with her, can feel unnatural, contrived and distracting to a teacher who is not accustomed to using this technique. Walking next to a student keeps the teacher and the student in very similar postures with no conscious effort on the teacher’s part, which contributes to the rapport-building process. Therefore, the teacher doesn’t need to be conscious of the body mirroring technique but reaps the benefits of it nonetheless.
The relationship between social skills and economic success is a relatively new phenomena, it’s impact varies from generation to generation. It’s rose up from a changing labor market, a US economy, like others around the world, that abandoned manufacturing and left a huge swath of baby boomers out of work with a set of skills that had become obsolete. A recent study (pdf) from The Hamilton Project, an initiative of the Brookings Institution, points out that while social skills had almost no impact on likelihood of future employment for those born in the late 1950s and early 1960s, they have large employment effects for those born in the early 1980s.
The homework debate is often split along the lines of primary school compared with secondary school. Education researcher Professor John Hattie, who has ranked various influences on student learning and achievement, found that homework in primary schools has a negligible effect (most homework set has little to no impact on a student’s overall learning). However, it makes a bigger difference in secondary schools.
His explanation is that students in secondary schools are often given tasks that reinforce key skills learned in the classroom that day, whereas primary students may be asked to complete separate assignments. “The worst thing you can do with homework is give kids projects; the best thing you can do is reinforce something you’ve already learned,” he told the BBC in 2014.
So homework can be effective when it’s the right type of homework. In my own practice, the primary students I teach will often be asked to find real-life examples of the concept taught instead of traditional homework tasks, while homework for secondary students consolidates the key concepts covered in the classroom. For secondary in particular, I find a general set of rules useful:
Set work that’s relevant. This includes elaborating on information addressed in the class or opportunities for students to explore the key concept in areas of their own interest. Make sure students can complete the homework. Pitch it to a student’s age and skills – anxiety will only limit their cognitive abilities in that topic. A high chance of success will increase the reward stimulation in the brain. Get parents involved, without the homework being a point of conflict with students. Make it a sharing of information, rather than a battle. Check the homework with the students afterwards. This offers a chance to review the key concepts and allow the working memory to become part of the long-term memory.
Teams that ceaselessly expand their limits can start showing signals of demotivation and decreasing trust in the team’s success if they do not take the time to consciously experience and embed the results achieved.
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