Category Archives: Assessment

Focus on learning: build a team – Embedding Formative Assessment VTR SPW

What if we collect evidence of progress to plan for next steps in learning?

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What if we take up a series of 30 Day Challenges: Step outside your comfort zone! as described in Justin Cahill’s linked post? Justin (@justybubpe) writes:

How about professionally? How can I apply the 30-day challenge to my job as a physical education teacher? How can I use this challenge to motivate my students? How can I take advantage of trying something new for 30 days to help bolster my planning and strengthen my curriculum? How will I answer all of these questions in under 30 days?

What if we focus on learning? When we set goals, are we committed to reaching them? What if we set micro-goals and action-steps that move our learning forward regularly?  How might we choose to team to step outside our comfort zone for 30 days to shift our practice to more formative assessment?

What if we choose to build a supportive accountability team to carve out moments for self- and peer-assessment?

Four weeks appears to be a minimum period of time for teachers to plan and carry out a new idea in their classroom. (Wiliam, 22 pag.)

How might we shift to grow from

a knowledge-giving business to a habit-changing business? (Wiliam, 19 pag.)

What if we try for 30 days?

Indeed, the evidence suggests that attention to classroom formative assessment can produce greater gains in achievement than any other change in what teachers do. (Wiliam, 11 pag.)

How might we try for 30 days?

Viewed from this perspective, choice is not a luxury but a necessity. (Wiliam, 15 pag.)


Cahill, Justin. “30 Day Challenges: Step outside Your Comfort Zone!” Keeping Kids in Motion. WordPress, 06 Jan. 2016. Web. 08 Jan. 2016.

Wiliam, Dylan, and Siobhán Leahy. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. West Palm Beach, FL: Learning Sciences, 2015. Print.

Agents of formative assessment – Embedding Formative Assessment VTR SPW

Anyone – teacher, learner, or peer – can be the agent of formative assessment. (Wiliam, 8 pag.)

I wonder if we have a common understanding of formative assessment.  I like the following from Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black (2009).

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…evidence elicited, interpreted, and used…to make decisions…

How might we empower every learner in our community to act as an agent of formative assessment?  What if we all use evidence of student learning to make decisions about next steps?

What if we team to clarify and share learning intentions and success criteria? How might we diagnose where learners are and start from there? While we already offer some feedback, what if we are intentional about the messaging in our feedback? Do learners know where they are now and where we want them to go next?

The third strategy emphasizes the teacher’s role in providing feedback to the students that tells them not only where they are but also what steps they need to take to move their learning forward. (Wiliam, 11 pag.)

How might we increase the frequency of feedback loops to offer feedback in the moment rather than the next day?

But the biggest impact happens with “short-cycle” formative assessment, which takes place not every six to ten weeks but every six to ten minutes, or even every six to ten seconds. (Wiliam, 9 pag.)

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If we want the biggest impact, we need help.  Are our learning intentions and success criteria clear and visible to learners? Do we offer moments for self- and peer-assessment? How might we grow in our ability to give high quality feedback that enables learners to move forward?

If anyone can be an agent of formative assessment, how might we team to offer big impact?


Wiliam, Dylan, and Siobhán Leahy. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. West Palm Beach, FL: Learning Sciences, 2015. Print.

 

Growing into independence

Coaching or over-coaching? It’s not about intent; it is about impact. If we focus on learning, don’t we need to move to the sideline and watch? How will we know if learners are independent or dependent if we are always on their learning field?

On his own, a dependent learner is not able to do complex, school-oriented learning tasks such as synthesizing and analyzing informational text without continuous support. (Hammond, 11 pag.)

How might we intentionally plan and facilitate learning experiences to help dependent students grow into independent learners?

See that window?

Jill-Shop

Over the last break, I wanted to learn to make something that I’d seem my smart, creative brother make back in the summer.  Jeff, my brother, believes in learning by doing. He prototypes and seeks feedback.  How often do our learners do that or get to do that?

So, when I asked to learn, we went to work.  I received a 5 minute mini-lesson on the Kreg jig and pocket screws where I watched and asked questions.  Then, I was handed the Ryobi drill.

Generally speaking, one of our family rules has been that Jill cannot use anything that has a blade and a power cord.  So I predicted that Jeff would help me. I mean, stand right there beside me to keep me from making a mistake.

Nope. He was busy; working.

He did come right back to explain that the drill was a variable speed drill and asked me to slow down.  And then, he was gone again. Who knew? Variable speed so I could work at a speed where I felt confident. Amazing! I experienced success and a few failures and one do-over.

How do we make time and space for our learners to become independent learners?

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From Zaretta Hammond’s Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

Independent learners regularly attempt new tasks without scaffold and have cognitive strategies to get unstuck.

Coaching or over-coaching. There’s more to the story,

Remember that window?

Consider that window…


Hammond, Zaretta, and Yvette Jackson. Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Corwin. Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

Hammond, Zaretta, and Yvette Jackson. Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Corwin. 2015.

Deep Practice, Leveling, and Communication (TBT Remix)

Does a student know that they are confused and can they express that to their teacher? We need formative assessment and self-assessment to go hand-in-hand.

I agree that formative self-assessment is the key. Often, I think students don’t take the time to assess if they understand or are confused. I think that it is routine and “easy” in class. The student is practicing just like they’ve been coached in real time. When they get home, do they “practice like they play” or do they just get through the assignment? I think that is where deep practice comes into play. If they practice without assessing (checking for success) will they promote their confusion?  I tell my students that it is like practicing shooting free throws with your feet perpendicular to each other. Terrible form does not promote success. Zero practice is better than incorrect practice.

With that being said, I think that teachers must have realistic expectations about time and quality of assignments. If we expect students to engage in deep practice (to embrace the struggle) then we have to shorten our assignments to accommodate the additional time it will take to engage in the struggle.  We now ask students to complete anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 as many problems as in the past with the understanding that these problems will be attempted using the method of deep practice.

Our version of deep practice homework:
“We have significantly shortened this assignment from years past in order to allow you time to work these questions correctly. We want you do work with deep practice.

  • Please work each problem slowly and accurately.
  • Check the answer to the question immediately.
  • If correct, go to the next problem.
  • If not correct, mark through your work – don’t eraseleave evidence of your effort and thinking.
    • Try again.
    • If you make three attempts and can not get the correct answer, go on to the next problem. “

I also think that the formative assessments with “leveling” encourage the willingness to struggle. How many times has a student responded to you “I don’t get it”? Perhaps it is not a lack of effort. Perhaps it is a lack of connected vocabulary. It is not only that they don’t know how, is it that they don’t know what it is called either. It is hard to struggle through when you lack vocabulary, skill, and efficacy all at the same time. How might we help our learners attend to precision, to communicate in the language of our disciplines?

Now is the time to guide our young learners to develop voice, confidence (and trust), and a safe place to struggle.


Deep Practice, Leveling, and Communication was originally published on November 20, 2010

 

HMW walk the walk: 1st draft doesn’t equal final draft

In her #CMCS15  session, Jessica Balli (@JessicaMurk13) challenges us to consider how we might redefine mathematical proficiency for teachers and students. Are our actions reflecting a current definition or are we holding on to the past?

How might we engage with the Standards for Mathematical Practice to help all redefine what it means to be ‘good at math’?

Do we value process and product? Are we offering opportunities to our learners that cause them to struggle, to grapple with big ideas, to make sense and persevere?

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Do we value our learners’ previous knowledge or do we mistakenly assume that they are blank slates? What if we offer our learners opportunity to show what they know first?  How might we use examples and non-examples to notice and note and then revise?

What if we take up the challenge to walk the walk to prove to our learners (and ourselves) that a first draft is not the same as a final draft?

Mistakes: it’s what you do next…

Mistakes: everybody makes them; the key is what happens next.

In his #CMCS15  session, Making Math Mistakes and Error Analysis: Diamonds in the Rough session, Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadelDivisible by 3, and Estimation 180) challenges us to make our thinking visible and to seize opportunities to deepen understanding.

  • Math mistakes are a valuable window into student thinking
  • Analysis of mistakes can help drive instruction, curb student misconceptions, and strengthen formative assessment.

How might we strength formative assessment to spur action?  Knowing is not enough.  What if we bright spot work found in the mistake to show something was going well?

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Do we practice?  How often do we reflect on our struggles? Knowing what went well and where we struggled, how might we consider taking new tack in what we do next?

Do something different… It’s what happens next.

 

 

Empower learners to deepen their learning

How might we empower learners to deepen their understanding?

After creating and administering common assessments, the next question is perhaps the most challenging: “Are students learning what we think they are supposed to be learning?” (Ferriter and Parry, 75 pag.)

What if our learners are grasping the content, but they are struggling to communicate what they know and how they arrive at a conclusion?

How might we make our expectations clear? What if we empower our learners to take action on their own behalf?

What if our culture embraces the three big ideas of a PLC?

Learning is our focus.
Collaboration is our culture.
Results guide our decisions.

Our #TrinityLearns 2nd grade team sat down together last week to analyze the results of the most recent common assessment.  While our young learners are grasping the basic concepts, we want more for them. We want confident, flexible thinkers and problem solvers.  We want our learners to show what they know more than one way, and we want strong clear communication so that the reader can follow the work without to infer understanding.

Teams at this point in the process are typically performing at a high level, taking collective responsibility for the performance of their students rather than responding as individuals. (Ferriter and Parry, 77 pag.)

As a team, these teachers sorted their students’ work into four levels, shared artifacts of levels with each other, and planned a common lesson.

Laurel Martin (@laurel_martin) explained to our children that the artifacts they analyzed were not from their class and that they belonged to a class across the hall.

Here’s the pitch to the students from Sarah Mokotoff’s (@2ndMokotoff) class:

Don’t you just love the messages: Be like scientists. Make observations. Offer feedback on how to improve.

Here’s what it looked like as the children analyzed artifacts from another 2nd grade class:

Once the analysis was complete, our teachers facilitated a discussion where the children developed a learning progression for this work.

From Kerry Coote (@CooteMrs):

We created these together after looking at student work samples that were assigned at each level. Our kids were so engaged in the activity; they were able to compare and give reasons why work was at a level 3 versus a level 4. It was really good to see! I believe this will empower them to be deeper thinkers and gradually move away from giving an answer without showing their thinking and work.

Here’s what the students in Grace Granade’s (@2ndGranade) class developed:

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More from Kerry Coote:

After we helped them develop the learning progression, we conferenced with each child looking at their math assessment. They  automatically self-assessed and assigned levels for their thinking. Many scored themselves lower at first, but the activity of crafting the learning progression helped in making sense of explaining their thinking! Today in math a boy asked me – “so Mrs. Coote, what are those levels again? I know the target is Level 3, but I want to use numbers, words, and pictures to get to level 4.”  It is all coming together and making sense more with these experiences!

In their morning meeting the next day, one of Kathy Bruyn’s (@KathyEE96) learners shared the poster she made the night before.

Don’t you love how she explained the near doubles fact and her precise language?  Wow!

Since we focus on learning and results, this team offered learners an opportunity to show growth.

From Samantha Steinberg (@spsteinberg):

This is an example of leveling up after looking at our assessment.  Initially, [he] used the learning progression to rate his work at level 3.  After reading my feedback, he added words to his next attempt to show his additional thinking.

Before the class developed the learning progression:

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After the class developed the learning progression:

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Can you see the difference in this child’s work, understanding, and communication?

A growth mindset isn’t just about effort. Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. Certainly, effort is key for students’ achievement, but it’s not the only thing. Students need to try new strategies and seek input from others when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve. (Dweck, n. pag.)

Kudos to our 2nd grade team for reaching for the top stages of  the seven stages of collaborative teams! Learning is our focus. Collaboration is our culture. Results guide our decisions.

How might we continue to empower learners to deepen their understanding?


Dweck, Carol. “Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’” Education Week. Education Week, 22 Sept. 2015. Web. 02 Oct. 2015.

Graham, Parry, and William Ferriter. Building a Professional Learning Community at Work: A Guide to the First Year. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2010. Print.