I recently had the pleasure of collaborating with a long-time friend and colleague, Bernajean Porter. She shared some thoughts that were new to me about feedback and formative assessment. Before I jump into those ideas, let me reflect on some of the more generally accepted concepts.

Of course we need to gather data about a student’s understanding of concepts at the moment of learning. That’s really not news if you are a thinking, feeling, caring educator. This piece from Kathy Dyer at NWEA reviews the pedagogical value, provides instructional strategies and discusses a variety of technologies that can enhance formative assessment. Robert Marzano’s extensive work is also useful including these tips from his website. Thomas Gusky’s writes about the cycle of instruction and the role of formative assessment in it in this piece from ASCD’s Ed Leadership. So we know that mastering content and formative assessment go hand in hand.

What was so interesting about Bernajean’s work is her focus on assessing student interest and reflection. I’ve previously written about the importance of student interest in personalizing learning here. This fits perfectly into the idea that student’s need more than instruction that is tailored to their educational need and what better way to do that than by checking out how interested students are in a topic? A quick poll using a tool like ClassFlow can easily give teachers the ability to use that data to increase student engagement in the learning. I could divide students into groups not just based on what they understand about participle phrases but I could also have them write sentences using those participle phrases about something that interests them. Yes!

3-2-1 Reflect!
3-2-1 Reflect!

Chris Argryris’ research on double loop learning (really just a fancy way of saying reflection) shows that by incorporate opportunities for reflection throughout the lesson students are more likely to retain the new ideas being presented. It’s that strategy of giving the brain an opportunity to make connections to existing knowledge that causes the new information to be retained more effectively. And again formative assessment tools – technology such a short text or the creative response poll in ClassFlow – are excellent ways to make that happen.

I came up with a quick image that could be incorporated into a reflection activity. What do you think? Would you use it?

New Forms of Formative Assessment

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