Rebooting Your Classroom – Five Ways Formative Assessment Can Help

Rebooting Your Classroom – Five Ways Formative Assessment Can HelpOne blog that I’ve bookmarked, and I re-visit each summer without fail is Terry Heick’s post – The Difference Between Updating and Rebooting Your Classroom. Great read! He paints clear differences between an update and what a complete reboot might look like. Both certainly have their place, and depending on the teacher and even the school district, one or the other may be more important to achieving desired outcomes.

Here, he discussed rebooting a classroom:

Rebooting is a bit more intensive—not necessarily starting from scratch, but something that definitely touches everything you do, and ends up visibly altering the work the students do. Throwing out genre-based units in your ELA classroom. Moving to a full-on peer-tutoring model in your classroom. Pitching the math textbooks for Khan Academy skill work and an entry-level Physics MOOC for real-world and hands-on math application. Co-teaching your Spanish class with a teacher from another country on Skype.

Some of the examples of rebooting that he uses are all-out changes in how teachers teach, and others are less ‘disruptive.’ In fact, some are outcomes of using formative instructional practices and strategies in the way you teach.

  • Promote a blend of direct instruction and self-directed learning that uses thematic units
  • Help students ask better questions
  • Design flexible learning experiences for every student to have the appropriate level of ‘rigor’
  • Gamify your classroom where all actions – standards-based or otherwise – are visible to all stakeholders

At the start of a new school year, as you look for ways to enhance or adapt your teaching to accommodate new curricula or standards, I’d encourage you to look at formative assessment as a way to reinvigorate your teaching and your students’ learning. Here are five ways formative assessment can reboot your classroom:

  1. There is no shortage of digital formative assessment tools available to help make utilizing the techniques relatively easy and certainly engaging.
  2. Formative assessment has been proven to work. Studies have shown that outcomes from its use help provide students with empowerment and a sense of autonomy, which translated into better student outcomes.
  3. Use of formative instructional practices helps teachers ask higher-order questions and extend wait time, which increases student engagement and academic achievement.
  4. Formative assessment helps hone student focus by promoting and implementing all-student response systems.
  5. A sustained, formal professional learning plan built on formative instructional practices can help improve teacher morale.

The beauty of formative assessment is the vast number of strategies there are available to teachers. There’s no one-size-fits-all, which means that teachers can find the strategies and tactics which best fit their classroom environment. And of course, once you find a few that work well, you’ll want to share them with your colleagues and encourage them to find their own basis for formative assessment success.

As you start school, consider formative assessment as you reboot your classroom and student learning for fall.