Embedded Formative Assessment Ch 7: Activating students as owners of their own learning

  • Self-assessment depends on both meta-cognition and motivation
  • The most important thing for self-regulated learning is to encourage students to pursue personal growth not well-being. This can be encouraged by:
    • Sharing learning goals
    • Promoting a belief that ability is incremental
    • Make comparisons between students more difficult
    • Make feedback a recipe for future action
    • Use every opportunity to give learners control of their learning.
  • Practical techniques:
    • Traffic lights used to focus revision efforts.
    • Green/red disks on desks to indicate when a teacher is going too fast.
    • Or use red to ask a question of another student.
    • Choose three of a selection of reflection statements to respond to at the end of a lesson.

Embedded Formative Assessment Ch 6: Activating students as instructional resources for one another

  • Peer tutoring can be as effective as teacher tutoring because of the different power relationships.
  • Effective cooperative learning requires group goals and individual accountability.
    • Some schools achieve this through a ‘secret student’ approach whereby a single student’s behaviour is reviewed and if good the class gets a reward.
  • Practical techniques:
    • 3B4ME
    • Peer evaluation of homework
    • Two stars and a wish
    • Getting students to write down end-of-topic questions in groups
    • Classifying errors and sharing with a peer with strengths in that area.
    • Student reporter summarises the lesson in plenary and answers remaining questions.
    • Get a buddy to sign off on a checklist e.g. labelling a graph, with accountability for their peer’s work in this area.
    • Assign group reporter at random so everyone has to be prepared to do it.
    • Get students to review and present on a particular aspect of work.

Embedded Formative Assessment Ch 5: Providing feedback that moves learning forward

  • Giving scores can completely wipe out the positive effects of giving constructive comments.
  • What matters for learning is the mindfulness with which students engage with feedback.
    • This can be achieved by scaffolding feedback.
  • “The best learners consistently attribute both success and failure to internal, unstable causes” (p.117)
    • The feedback we give should support this view, by being used by the learner to improve performance.
    • To achieve this, feedback must provide a recipe for future action, broken down into a series of small steps.
  • Never grade students while they are still learning.
  • An idea for grading is on p.126
  • Practical techniques
    • Mark work with a -, = or + to mean not as good as, equal to or better than your last piece of work.
    • Don’t provide feedback without class time to act on it e.g. write 3 questions next to specific aspects of a piece of work, and give 10-15 minutes in the lesson to respond.
    • Write feedback on strips of paper and give to groups to decide which feedback goes with which piece of work.
    • Relate the feedback to the learning objectives.
    • “Five questions are wrong; find and fix them.”

Embedded Formative Assessment Ch 4: Eliciting evidence of learners’ achievement

  • Generating questions that genuinely assess students’ thinking is surprisingly difficult (but crucial).
  • Whether to go over something again is a professional judgement, informed by how crucial that topic is to progression.
  • Practical techniques:
    • Asking questions that cause new learning through analysis, inferring or generalising.
    • Picking students at random (pose-pause-bounce-bounce) rather than accepting hands up.
      • Use a random name generator for this.
      • But not always popular.
      • If a student tries to opt-out by saying ‘I don’t know’, come back to them. Its important to establish that classroom participation is not optional.
    • Increasing wait time after an answer as well as before.
    • Make statements that can be debated rather than closed questions.
    • Listening interpretively not evaluatively – listen to understand what pupils think, not for the right answer.
    • Use question shells such as ‘Why is…an example of…?’ or ‘Why is … x and … isn’t?’
    • Hot seat questioning using a series of q and a’s to one student that another then summarises (chosen randomly).
    • Eliciting all student responses to cognitive questions, for example by using ABCD cards (require pre-planned questions) or mini WBs (for more spontaneous questions) or exit passes.
      • Exit passes can be used to group people for the next lesson.
    • There is an important distinction between discussion questions and diagnostic questions
      • In the latter they are designed so that it is very unlikely that the student will get the correct answer for the wrong reason.
      • The idea is that a lesson will be designed with at least one ‘hinge point’ where the teacher uses a diagnostic question to check whether the class is ready to move on.
        • The questions should take no longer than 2 (and preferably 1) minute to answer.
        • Responses should be analysable in 30 seconds or less.
        • It should be very difficult for students to get the right answer for the wrong reason.
        • Incorrect answers should be interpretable.
      • Multiple choice hinge point questions reduce possible answers so make them more analysable in real time.

Embedded Formative Assessment: Ch 3 Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions and success criteria

  • The value of sharing learning intentions is in helping students to make sense of the overall purpose and direction of their learning, rather than getting lost in (or focusing on) the minutiae.
  • “Ensuring that all students know what quality work looks like has a profound impact on achievement gaps.” (p.55)
  • Co-construction of learning intentions can be a useful way to achieve this.
  • As teachers we are interested not in whether students can do what we have taught them but in whether they can apply the knowledge in new contexts.
  • Learning objectives and the context of learning are often confused e.g. Objective: To be able to write instructions on how to change a bicycle tyre vs. Objective: To be able to write clear instructions and Context: Changing a bicycle tyre.
    • Differentiation can be achieved by asking different students to transfer their learning into more or less unfamiliar contexts.
  • Success criteria can be task-specific or more generic; the latter is usually more effective.
  • Criteria can be both focused on the outcome and the process; in many cases sharing both is most useful.
    • But process criteria can be both a help and a hindrance (the latter particularly to more able and/or creative pupils)
  • Practical techniques
    • Asking pupils to evaluate samples of similar work and develop success criteria based on their strengths and weaknesses.
      • A useful underpinning to this is a pre-prepared model of progression to guide discussions.
    • Using student samples to exemplify excellent work.
    • Having students design tests and model answers.
      • Can be particularly useful for students who don’t like tests.

Embedded Formative Assessment: Ch 2

Ch 2: The case for formative assessment

  • According to the Assessment Reform Group, assessment to improve learning requires five elements to be in place:
  1. Provision of effective feedback to students
  2. Active involvement of students in their own learning
  3. Adjustment of teaching to take into account the results of assessment
  4. Recognition of the profound influence assessment has on the motivation and self-esteem of students, both of which are crucial influences on learning
  5. Need for students to be able to assess themselves and understand how to improve
  • Decisions are at the heart of the process, and should guide the design of assessment i.e. assessment processes should be designed to allow better decisions.
  • Five key strategies for formative assessment:
  1. Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success.
  2. Engineering effective classroom discussions, activities and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning.
  3. Providing feedback that moves learning forward.
  4. Activating learners as instructional resources for one another.
  5. Activating learners as the owners of their own learning.
  • Teaching must be ‘adaptive’ to the learners’ needs: the big idea of formative assessment.