Formative Assessment -> Follow-up Action

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During a conversation with @druinok this past weekend – about an upcoming PD session she is co-leading, I was reminded of this post…

Using In-Class Formative Assessment Effectively

After re-reading it a couple of times, I almost think I should set a reminder to revisit is every few weeks.  All the things I thought I knew about Formative Assessment in the past years, I am finally having a break-through of understanding what its really all about.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had the knowledge and said I agreed.  I know it benefits learning when used to inform instruction.  I’m just not sure all of my actions have been supported by a true, internal understanding.  The how-to’s, why’s and other questions I’ve muddled through in recent years are finally sinking in.

As I mentioned in the linked post, for years I’ve searched for FA strategies – but the session with Dr. Kanold last summer helped me realize all I found were the tools I would use to gather the evidence from students.  The Formative Assessment is none of those things – the FA is the planned Follow-up Action.

The follow up action is something I’ve been aware of for years… look at this “old” unit organizer… the peacock blue highlight on the right side.  self-assessment

What I have internalized about the Follow-up Action is that students in 9th grade may have not developed an internal self-check, as the teacher, it is my responsibility to help them develop this habit.

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The couple of months, I have been re-reading Embedding Formative Assessment with @druinok and some big a-ha’s for me.  She has a great post to sum up when I’ve realized with feedback here.

The only thing that matters with feedback is the reaction of the recipient.  No matter how well designed, if the student doesn’t act on it, then the feedback was a waste of time.  And..

Don’t give feedback unless you allocate class time for students to respond.  If it’s worth your time to generate the feedback, it’s worth taking instruction time to ensure students respond.

If I give them feedback, and I want them to act on it, then I must provide them with time / structure to do so.  Is the feedback given in such a way, they can respond to it?  This semester, I have been very intentional with this.  It may seem like a generic structure, but it has given us a starting spot…

  • A couple of silent minutes to read / process the written feedback.
  • A couple of minutes to respond / redo / revisit the learning task / assessment question in writing.
  • A couple of minutes to discuss with their shoulder partners.
  • Then ask questions of me.

The Follow-up Action is the essence of Formative Assessment.  I am guilty in the past of doing formative assessment, but never using it to inform my instruction.  Yep, check that off the list, formative assessment complete.  Yikes.  I don’t think I am the only one.  We feel chained to the pacing guides, like we must keep moving.  That is the failure of education.  We have let this steal our students’ opportunities to learn.  I must keep reminding myself often –

Less can be more if I do Less better.

If I am serious about student learning.  If I walk my talk.  I am no longer doing for the sake of doing.  I am no longer adding a task to my lesson plan to check off the box for admin to see.  I am choosing intentionally.  I will plan those Formative Assessments, and truly use the information they have gathered.  I will allow myself the room / time to go off the lesson plan and pacing guide and do what’s best for my kids.

In doing this, I believe it takes away some of the anxiety students experience.  I believe it opens the classroom to becoming a safe environment for making mistakes and learning.  In the past I’ve claimed to celebrate mistakes as learning experiences, but I am not sure that message has transcended to my learners.

I will plan a purposeful, intentional follow-up action, then allow my students time to react/respond to it…  I am giving them time to process, make sense of and iron out those misconceptions, redo their mistakes, making note of them – allowing them to see, observe quality student work and examples – providing them with models to help build better understanding.

 

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