2: What does it look like?

Learning Objective

Identify various types of formative assessment as illustrated through authentic examples.

In this phase, the participant should develop a clearer picture as to the criteria and characteristics that compose and define formative assessment. Below are some authentic examples that demonstrate a variety of instances where formative assessment allowed for more learner-teacher knowledge.

Characteristics of Formative Assessment:

  • has clear and transparent learning objectives
  • offers opportunities for high quality assessment
  • provides timely and understandable feedback
  • is a frequent occurrence during instruction, not only an end of unit assessment tool
  • requires student to be both active and reflective
  • follows a learning progression building on prior knowledge (aperceptive basis)
  • helps to identify a gap in learning or understanding
  • offers data on how to adjust instruction to assist student to learn within their zone of proximal development.
  • encourages teacher-student communications

Authentic Applications

Learning Context: These examples were implemented in a project-based learning (PBL)mathematics classroom. The students are chosen by lottery from thirty-nine different districts across the NYS Capital Region. It is a small high school [grades 9-12] and a single grade can contain approximate 30-40 students, whose abilities and socio-economic backgrounds vary greatly. Block scheduling permits for approximately 87 minutes of instruction every other day, this in addition to collaborative project work time. The instruction was presented to a ninth grade geometry class, which is integrated with English Language Arts (ELA). The curriculum is delivered using a PBL approach, and as a result students are presented with a project or problem, which they are to propose a solution for. The students receive an entry event or document and a project rubric; just as you have in this project.

Scaffolding/Benchmarking Example

Description: This is a planned-for interaction, as the teacher will anticipate and map out ahead of time how they will stimulate the deeper thinking within a lesson or unit of instruction. Throughout the project there are certain 'benchmarks' that the students need to meet in order to progress throughout the project. The benchmark is directly related to a component or task that will help students to complete the product. The purpose of this is so that students can receive feedback on their progress and understanding, encouraging standards-based assessment. Benchmarks can be evaluated in a variety of ways, either formally to informally.
Project Task: Mini-golf business wants proposals for a new mini-golf course hole design to increase engagement and interest of the business patrons.
Learning Objectives:
  1. File:ProjectRubric Benchmarks.pdf
  2. Use geometric transformations to create obstacles
  3. To apply to the law of incidence
  4. Explore the relationships of 'rate of change' between parallel and perpendicular lines, including the slopes of horizontal and vertical lines.
Product: a 2-dimensional, bird's eye view of a mini-golf hole design & a proposal to justify why their design will satisfy the clientele.

Instructional Implications: The teacher can assess how groups are making progress on each of the product's components, which is just an application of the content. The teacher through observation and discussion can intervene one-on-one, or in a small group setting. Observing that many teams are having the same questions or a pattern of misunderstanding, you may want to address the class as a whole and hold an impromptu workshop.

Exit Slips Example

Description: This is an 'on the fly-assessment' and can be applied at any point during instruction. They should assess a unit or concept on different levels. For example this begin with one or two simpler or pre-requisite concepts and progress to the current learning objective, so that the underlying mathematical concepts that support the new knowledge can be assessed. We cannot build new knowledge if the prior knowledge or foundation is not there. Often in project based learning, students want to work with their group on the project products. Students do not realize however that they cannot contribute without first achieving the project learning objectives. Below are some examples of some 'on-the-fly' assessment and exit slips that were used to assess student understanding. Students can be asked to complete an 'slip' before entering class, before leaving class, before moving onto another activity within class. This allows the teacher to identify student needs and to prepare future instruction. The questions or tasks on the slip should help the student to identify themselves where their gaps are and follow a progression through the content. This is why having a deep pedagogical content knowledge is helpful in designing formative assessment opportunities.

Teacher Responsibilities

  • Creating a learning community and a learning centered classroom climate.
  • Use pedagogical content knowledge to aid in identification of gaps
  • Emphasize the process not the solution.
  • Encourage students to adopt the philosophy "Fail often to succeed sooner"
IDEOis a design consultancy that follows the design process, and emphasizes innovation, failure, and reflection, in order to meet the needs of its global clientele. If student's ever ask you when they are going to use this, explain: "Learning to solve problems (regardless of the context) is one of the most important skills to have in any working environment in today's 21st century environment."

Additional Tools

  • Google Documents has a 'form' feature, which can allow you to direct students to different questions based on their input. Additionally, this technology will automatically summarize the results for you. Students would need access to internet or technology in order to access the form. It is free to sign up for a Google account and free to create and share these forms. On a Google Document, a student can post their work digitally and so a teacher could provide live feedback such as comments, probing questions, and links to additional resources.
  • Class room clickers are a great technology to have in the class room. Again, these allow for as many snapshots or 'on-the-fly' assessments as desired with minimal grading. The technology will grade and summarize the results for us. This allows grouping of abilities to be done more easily, so that you can address some missing pre-algebra requisites with one group as another is advancing through the materials.
  • Think-Pair-Share is an activity that can work across any discipline. Have the students first work individually on any problem or written prompt, then have students share with one another what progress they have made so far. As students share out, teacher should circulate throughout the room listening to student discussion and asking probing questions. If at any time there appears to be a particular student or group struggling, this allows for individualized assistance or they can be paired with another student who may be able to clarify concepts in a way you cannot.
  • Zero or 100 policy During a unit of instruction, give a limited number of assignments that will help students to practice the learning objectives and pre-requisite skills. Tell students that this is the work they need to successfully complete during this unit; they can consider it a substitution to homework. You can decide whether it is graded or not. Students can submit this assignment for review as many times as needed throughout the project, until it is mathematically perfect. After each iteration the teacher will know where an individual student stands on a particular topic, which can help to inform subsequent lesson activities and grouping. This will also serve as a 'trigger' to meet with a student to work on their individual needs. It keeps students reflecting on their previous work and keeps the teacher up-to-date on student understanding and general class misconceptions.

Check For Understanding

  1. How might the Einstein quote [on right] be motivational to students?
  2. How does this quote encourage formative assessment?

Learning Journal: Update K/NTK

After viewing the examples above, continue to update and answer any 'Need To Knows' that still remain from the first unit. If there are any additional questions that you need answered,

Benchmark#2: Propose a Solution

  1. View the Project Rubric
  1. Update your K/NTK list. Have you answered any more of your questions? Now that you have read the project rubric, are there any new questions that need to be addressed before you can proceed with your instructional design?
  2. Identify one of the approaches or tools that you would like to pursue in designing your lesson. Provide a description of how you may implement these tools/techniques and how the tools you've chosen will help you to 'solve' your problem. How do these reflect the characteristics of formative assessment? Record your response in detail.