In this current blog series we’ve looked at the first two of five formative assessment strategies that are part of our Keeping Learning on Track® (KLT®) teacher professional development. This professional development was designed in part from Dylan Wiliam’s research on classroom-level instructional shifts that can benefit both the teacher and the student in meeting learning targets. A successful transition to meeting Common Core State Standards will require classroom-level reform combined with higher-level thinking; two immediate benefits inherent in formative assessment.
The last blog post discussed the first two strategies:
1. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning targets and success criteria
2. Engineering effective classroom discussions, questions, and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning
This blog post tackles the remaining three formative assessment strategies:
3. Providing feedback that moves learners forward
4. Activating students as the owners of their own learning
5. Activating students as instructional resources for one another
Formative assessment is all about eliciting evidence of student learning and then using that knowledge to adjust teaching and learning to meet learning targets. We’ve shared a number of these formative assessment strategies and ideas through our blog, so please take a look. While not all of these techniques will work for you and your class, we’re certain that one will effectively allow you to elicit learning evidence and provide that valuable feedback for moving learners forward.
The final two strategies involve activating students as owners of their learning as well as resources for other students in the classroom. Meta-cognition, roughly defined as thinking about thinking or knowing where you are in the process of mastering a topic and what steps are needed next, is an approach that can help students take control of their own learning.
From the book How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School, meta-cognition was researched and found to be an important part of what triggers active learning – both of the student and with their peers:
In research with experts who were asked to verbalize their thinking as they worked, it was revealed that they monitored their own understanding carefully, making note of when additional information was required for understanding, whether new information was consistent with what they already knew, and what analogies could be drawn that would advance their understanding. These meta-cognitive monitoring activities are an important component of what is called adaptive expertise (Hatano and Inagaki, 1986)… The model for using the meta-cognitive strategies is provided initially by the teacher, and students practice and discuss the strategies as they learn to use them. Ultimately, students are able to prompt themselves and monitor their own comprehension without teacher support.
In order for meta-cognition to be triggered, however, teachers need an understanding of where a student’s comprehension of subject matter is at the time of learning. Formative assessment exposes this understanding and helps inform the teacher of student preconceptions of subject matter knowledge and provide the base from which to build meta-cognition.
The five formative assessment strategies listed above can play an integral role in classroom-level learning that can help educators move students toward meeting Common Core State Standards, and the higher-level thinking required to do so.