Sunday, November 6, 2011

How to Find Extra Time For Formative Assessment - Daylight Savings Time

Today was "turn back the clock" Sunday as the first day of Daylight Savings Time.  I loved that extra hour of sleep!  Wouldn't it be great if we had "Classroom Savings Time" for those days when an extra hour would let us finish a great discussion, complete a lab, send home projects that were completely dry or give students that additional one on one help to make sure they were understanding the content?   As we continue to focus on formative assessment this year, I hear lots of "this is great, but when am I supposed to find time in my class to do this?"

Formative assessments aren't special events. Using formative assessments don't require stopping the flow of the class to give a quiz. Formative assessments won't look the same in every classroom.  At a workshop for mentor teachers I participated in this past week , the presenter referred to INFORMATIVE assessment.  I love this term because I think it really puts the focus on what formative assessments are all about - informing instruction.  

Here are some ideas for using formative assessments on a daily basis without taking time "away" from your lessons:

  • Use a stoplight card system - students have 3 colored cards at their desk or table - as they are working on an activity,  red means "help me right now, I am stuck"  yellow means " I need some help, but I am still able to be working"  green means " I get this"
  • Use a "fist to five" to quickly check on understanding - fist is "don't get this at all"  three fingers might be " I get it, but another example would help"  all the way up to five fingers up - "I get this and can explain it to someone else".
  • Use a four square - the upper right corner is the learning target, the upper left corner is what they already know about the learning target, the bottom right corner is a summary of what they learned in the lesson, the bottom left corner are questions.
  • Use a graphic organizer web to help students make connections to past knowledge, current learning and future learning...keep referring back to it during the lesson.
  • Use popsicle sticks with student names on them as a way to make sure you a selecting a variety of students to participate in a lesson - you can be tricky and put a cup within your cup to keep separate sticks for students who you know may be struggling - so you can be sure they get a question or task that is appropriate to their learning level.
  • Teach using the "chunk and chew" method - sounds gross - but is effective- Teach small pieces of the lesson, take time to have students share what they have learned with a "clock partner" or "elbow buddy" - this gives them a chance to summarize and restate info, a skill they need as we move toward the new common core standards. 
  • Use the learning targets as the starting point for writing a simple rubric.  Students can self assess using the rubric.   Here is an example of how I used this for a group of teachers I was presenting a workshop to:
    • Learning Targets for the Class
      • Explain ways to communicate classroom expectations
      • Describe effective techniques for acknowledging students who meet expectations and those who do not.
      • Reflect on how we may intentionally or unintentionally have a different set of expectations for some students in our classes.
      • Describe effective techniques for helping the teacher have high expectations for all students
    • Rubric  4  mastery  3 developing 2 basic 1 below basic
      • 4  Can describe or explain at least 3 effective techniques each for communicating expectations, acknowledging behaviors and having high expectations for all students. Active participant in discussion
        3  Can describe or explain 1-2 effective techniques each for communicating expectations, acknowledging behaviors and having high expectations for all students. Active listener, occasionally participate in discussion
        2 Can list or describe at least 1 effective technique for communicating expectations, acknowledging behaviors and having high expectations for all students. Active listener


        1 Can not list or describe an effective technique for communicating expectations, acknowledging behaviors and having high expectations for all students.  Not an active listener

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