From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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You’re teaching your heart out. All of a sudden, you look in their eyes and wonder if they understand. But in due time, you decide enough of them know the material and it is time for a test. After they take the test, you start grading. In a moment, you realize that while one or two know the material, that you were hopelessly unaware that most of them needed some more teaching. I’ve been there and it is one of the worst feelings of teaching. When it happened to me, I felt like quitting. I felt like a failure. But no more.
Now, when I teach difficult concepts like binary numbers, I can teach them and know in the moment what they know. No more waiting. No more guessing. That’s because, formative assessment is in my toolkit and I’m empowered to poll the whole class with a click.
As shown above, we can do better than the old fashioned guess and stress mode of teaching and testing. Formative assessment is here.
Different from summative assessment, the goal of formative assessment is to know what they know as knowledge is forming in their minds. Equally important, the point of formative assessment is NOT to take another grade. While you might be tempted, DON’T DO IT! (Unless they all surprise you and make perfect scores! Then, by all means take a grade and do a dance while you’re at it!)
As an illustration of the many ways you can assess formatively, Steven Anderson and I continue in the second episode of a three-part series on formative assessment. (See the first episode with Tony Vincent linked below.)
Given the points I’ve made already, I believe that formative assessment is one of the key tools for the 21st-century educator’s toolbox.
GradeCam: Today’s Sponsor is a Formative Assessment Wonder
If you visit Gradecam from this blog post, you can get a 60-day free trial. You can also listen to a bonus episode I recorded about the “Biggest Formative Assessment Mistake that People Make” with Tony Vincent.
- What story can you use to introduce formative assessment to teachers?
- Is there a trap teachers fall into of thinking they have to grade everything?
- What is the central purpose of formative assessment?
- How can teachers use formative assessment to self-assess their own teaching?
- Are there some fast easy ways to use formative assessment?
- What are Steven’s favorite formative assessment tools?
- Episode 1 in this Formative Assessment Series
Who is Steven Anderson?
Steven W. Anderson @web20classroom is the director of instructional technology for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in Winston-Salem, NC. He also regularly travels the country talking to schools and districts about the use of social media in the classroom. He has been the recipient of the Twitterer of the Year Award, and in 2012 he was named an ASCD Emerging Leader, which recognizes young, talented, educational leaders in their field.
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