With the holidays and breaks upon us, many educators might be thinking about what they’d like to learn or develop in the New Year. One idea (one of my favorite topics, right?) might be evolving your formative instructional practices.
Developing and sharpening your formative assessment acumen over time is important. Because formative assessment strategies produce so much information about student learning, there’s a necessity for formative assessment experts to recognize which information is critical evidence for moving teaching and learning forward and which information isn’t.
Formative assessment experts need to be well versed in the common misconceptions inherent to their subject matter, as well as typical errors in student thinking, so that they can quickly recognize those cognitive patterns in their learners’ responses to questions and tasks. Likewise, they must have a repertoire of appropriate learning interventions.
The use of formative instructional strategies to activate specific thought patterns—like comparing evidence of student learning to the goals of a lesson—has to be automatic for formative assessment experts. Quickly processing the elicited evidence to determine what learners get and don’t get so adjustments can be made right then becomes a way of being in the classroom.
These core proficiencies are at the heart of formative assessment expertise, and it’s the ability to put them all together that truly makes the formative assessment expert. Accomplished formative assessment teachers work fluently and automatically within their instructional context to address students’ immediate learning needs in real time—rapidly processing evidence of student thinking and learning, automatically considering the learning targets, then making advantageous decisions about the next steps of instruction to move learning forward, sometimes with a plan B or even C in mind.
We can deliver help in honing your formative assessment skillset with professional development workshops. In fact, we have five workshops focused on formative instructional practices. The workshops and their foci are listed below:
Building your Formative Assessment Practice
- Understand the role formative practice plays within your instruction
- Learn about the four foundational formative assessment practices you can use in classrooms
- Explore a specific practice, review the research behind it, and plan next steps for applying what you’ve learned
Develop learning targets and criteria
- Understand how learning targets and success criteria impact student engagement and achievement
- Learn how to make standards more meaningful for instruction and how to communicate them to students
- Discover the five key elements for great learning targets
Using learning targets for classroom success
- Explore the motivational benefits of clarifying learning, such as fostering self-efficacy and self-regulation
- Align instruction and assessment by clarifying success criteria
- Translate standards into well-aligned instruction and assessment using clear targets
Questioning for learning
- Understand why it’s important to plan strategic questions
- Identify effective questioning methods and modalities for both teachers and students
- Practice strategies that will increase the value of your classroom discussions
Engaging all students
- Connect current practice to research about why we should elicit evidence of learning
- Identify strategies that can engage all students in providing evidence of their learning
- Outline how to adjust instruction based on the data collected
- Understand how feedback strategies can bridge gaps in student learning
- Explore the different types of feedback and feedback as a process
- Investigate approaches to feedback that maximize learning
Classroom feedback strategies and tools
- Investigate tools that support quality feedback approaches
- Learn from classroom examples of success with feedback models
- Use strategies that enhance classroom learning culture
Peer and self-assessment
- Connect current practice to research about peer and self-assessment
- Identify priorities when planning to support students in peer and self-assessment
- Examine best practice strategies and tools
- Understand why it’s important to engage students in making choices about their learning
- Identify methods for students to use evidence of learning to monitor their own learning
- Facilitate student ownership of learning goals and processes that lead to success
It takes time and targeted attention on formative strategies to build the expert capacity to create and manage an accomplished formative assessment classroom. I believe it’s this expertise that ultimately equips teachers to navigate the complexity of both their classrooms and their students’ minds. You can learn more about additional professional learning opportunities on our website.