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Introduction to Formative Assessment - IA

Page history last edited by Bill 7 years, 11 months ago

Introduction to Formative Assessment


Direct link to this session resource page:  http://bit.ly/BSDOct15formative


Backchannell for today's conversation:  https://todaysmeet.com/BSDIAOct15 


One of the fundamental practices of professional learning teams is formative assessment -- collecting information during the course of teaching that can be used to target a teacher's instructional decisions and intervene on behalf of students who are struggling to master content or who have mastered content before lessons even begin.  In this short presentation, teachers will learn more about the reasons formative assessment matters and review several simple strategies for making formative assessment doable.  



Slides and Handouts for Today's Session

Slides - IA Formative Assessment 

Handouts - IA Formative Assessment


Participants interested in following along with session presenter Bill Ferriter can download a copy of today's slides and handouts as a PDF file by clicking on the links above.  


Sample Unit Overview Sheets


In Checking for Understanding, formative assessment experts Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey argue that any good system of formative assessment must start with clearly articulated goals that every student understands.  "A clearly articulated purpose provides teachers with guidance about checking for understanding and allows students to share responsibility for learning.  When the purpose is not clear, or not agreed upon, students may complete a number of tasks yet not be motivated to assume responsibility" (Kindle Location 215).  For session presenter Bill Ferriter, clearly articulating a purpose for learning starts and ends by developing unit overview sheets.  




Upper Elementary Unit Overview Sheet, Version 1 -  The initial unit overview sheet that Bill Ferriter used with his sixth grade students.

Upper Elementary Unit Overview Sheet, Version 2 -  A revised version of Bill Ferriter's unit overview sheet.

Upper Elementary Unit Overview Sheet, Student Exemplar - A sample of a completed unit overview sheet, filled out by a sixth grade student. 

Elementary Samples of Unit Overview Sheets, Multiple Grades - A set of unit overview sheets developed by teachers at Flynn Elementary School.


Kindergarten Unit Overview Sheet - An overview sheet created by kindergarten teacher Nicole Ricca.  Read more about Ricca's overview sheet here on her blog.  Download a free copy of her unit overview template here on her Teachers Pay Teachers page.  




Tracking Observations of Student Performance


One of the most important steps that teachers interested in improving their formative assessment practices can take is developing a simple system for recording observations of student performance.  These systems should be easy to implement during the course of a classroom lesson, should be easy to implement during the course of grading student papers, and should be easy to learn from so that teachers can take action on the data being collected.  Below are samples of two tools that teachers are using to record these observations.  Also included are samples of tools that teachers can use to encourage students to track their progress towards mastering essential objectives.  




Data Tracking Template Sample 1 - Third grade teacher Courtney Janes uses this data tracking template to record observations during the course of daily lessons.  You can read more about her process here on her blog.  


Data Tracking Template Sample 2 - Session presenter Bill Ferriter has settled on a performance tracking tool recommended by Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey in this Educational Leadership article.  Bill used the sample included here to collect data while grading a set of lab reports recently completed by his students.


Student Data Tracking Tools

Sample 1

Sample 2

Sample 3


Oftentimes, we forget that formative assessment isn't JUST about getting information that teachers can act on.  Formative assessment information can be just as valuable to students, who can develop a more sophisticated sense of what they have mastered and what they are still struggling to master.  To make this work more doable, North Carolina first grade teacher Andrea Knight developed a series of graphing templates for her students to complete as a part of their data notebooks.  Samples of three of those templates are linked above.  You can read more about Ms. Knight's process here on her blog.  You can purchase her templates here on her Teachers Pay Teachers page.




Using Digital Tools to Manage Formative Assessment 


Sometimes, teachers struggle with sustaining formative assessment efforts simply because they have TOO much data to collect and to sift through and to learn from.  Managing new streams of information has always been a challenge in a knowledge-driven profession.  Thankfully, digital tools can make that management easier.  The tools below have helped session presenter Bill Ferriter to make formative assessment feel more doable.




Mastery Connect -  Tool for delivering traditional assessments and tracking progress by student and by standard. 

Socrative - Tool for collecting all kinds of information during the course of regular instruction.  

Plickers - Tool that makes collecting information during the course of regular instruction doable in classrooms with limited access to technology.

Class Dojo - Tool originally designed for classroom management, but that can be easily tailored for recording observations of student performance as well.



Additional Resources Worth Exploring


Once your learning team has collected information on student performance, it is time to begin having conversations about what that information means.  Taking action on information is the essential next step after a formative assessment has been given.  The following tools and templates may help to structure learning team conversations around data -- a critical step towards making learning about learning safe for everyone.




Data Meeting Plan and Data Meeting Protocol - One of session presenter Bill Ferriter's favorite resources on common formative assessment is Common Formative Assessment - A Toolkit for Professional Learning Communities written by assessment experts Kim Bailey and Chris Jakicic.  In the text, Bailey and Jakicic share tons of resources, including the Data Meeting Plan and Data Meeting Protocol linked above.  Both tools are direct, simply structured, and easy to follow -- making data meetings approchable for every learning team.  


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