Post for the week of July 9, 2012
I just went to a great session on Formative Assessment.
Formative assessments are checks for learning DURING learning. Formative assessments include informal assessments, such as "thumbs up/thumbs down" and exit tickets and more traditional methods, such as a quick quiz. Summative assessments are checks for understanding at the END of learning, such as a final exam or essay.
As I became more and more convinced of the value of formative assessments, it made me think that perhaps there could be a systematic way to integrate them. For example, if a teacher planned a three-week unit on a topic with a big test at the end, he/she could make it a point to always include at least five smaller formative assessments. My idea is, for every ONE summative assessment, include FIVE formative assessments along the way. That way, he/she could ensure that the students were on track or help develop plans to analyze why students weren’t getting it. This system would avoid surprise failures on the big test.
There are hundreds of formative assessments online and many professional development workshops available.
If this seems overwhelming, remember that formative assessments don't need to be graded. They can be sorted to get quick data—who got it and who didn't? You could also devise a quick Survey Monkey survey that compiles the results for you. Also, you can work with students on formative assessments. The next day, tell them the results and get their feedback on how to move forward.