Monday, October 12, 2015

What's with Formative Assessment?

Formative Assessment is Assessment for Learning

Formative assessment is getting a great deal of notice of late. Chapter 8 of the State of California ELA/ELD Framework focuses specifically on this topic. This post will explain what it is as well as some best practices will be identified. Also, information about some online and digital formative assessment tools will be provided.

The definition of Formative Assessment from Chapter 8 (page 822) is to “provide information about student learning minute-by-minute, day-to-day, and week-to-week so that teachers continuously adapt instruction to meet students’ specific needs and secure progress”. Instead of providing information at the end of a learning cycle, Formative Assessment provides learning information to teacher and student alike.

There has been discussion about whether it is appropriate to grade Formative Assessment. Learners may not have all mastered a topic when a Formative Assessment is given. The teacher learns who has and has not learned material, then can adjust teaching strategies. Students learn what they do not have a complete grasp of, so must work toward that goal.

There are a variety of tools that can be used to assess learning during the learning cycle. Some are tried and true, while others are digital and new. Each has its place. The State of West Virginia provides examples of Formative Assessment at this site. Some tried and true elements are exit tickets, graphic organizers, and discussion. Some new resources include digital games and websites that gather important data about student knowledge. These include: Socrative, GoFormative, and Kahoot. These new tools are worth investigating, as they can help gather the formative data needed to evaluate student learning, while engaging students at the same time.

When addressing the formative assessment and grading question, teachers ask, “How can we motivate students to try?” I challenge them to observe a classroom playing Kahoot to ask that question. Novelty is worthy. It keeps the learning interesting and the learner motivated to learn. Try these new learning tools!

Want more information? Check out this Edutopia blog on having a Courageous Conversation about grading practices.

This blog post is dedicated to my friends at #TOSAchat where the Formative Assessment discussion began several weeks ago. I expect it will continue!

1 comment:

  1. Great reminder of the variety of, and creative, ways to formatively assess learning!