Saturday, July 14, 2012

Formative Assessment and Social Studies Revisited



Two years ago the the Social Studies staff  looked at formative assessment. We looked at what we considered to be Eleven Attributes of Formative Asssessment. These attributes are as follows:
1) Partnership with Students
Formative assessment involves teachers and students working together to improve student learning (and teacher instruction).
2) Learning Outcomes
Learning outcomes (also called learning targets) are what the students should accomplish during the lesson. Learning outcomes make sure that the learners have a clear view of what they should achieve. 
3) Success Criteria
Students must know what the success criteria is for the learning outcome. Teachers should provide models/exemplars for students. Students should be involved  in the discussion of the success criteria.
4) Collaboration with Colleagues
Teachers collaboratively determine the power standards, essential understandings and develop assessments for the learning outcomes. Teachers collaboratively gather data and develop plans for remediation.  
5) Daily Assessment Embedded in Lesson–Formative assessment takes place on a daily basis and is a part of the daily lesson.
6) High Level Questioning/Discussions
Teachers should use questioning which goes beyond the recall and comprehension levels by using Bloom’s taxonomy. They should collaborate with colleagues to develop high level questions which will elicit intellectual discussions.
7) Teachers as Observers and Data Collectors Formative assessment involves teachers observing students on a daily basis. It also involves collecting data about students’ learning and responding to the data.
8) Data is Used to Modify Instruction 
Teachers use the data from assessments to alter their instruction (provide corrective instruction) to assist students in learning. Assessments are only considered  “formative” if the information is used to adapt teaching and learning
9) Quality Feedback to Students
Students need feedback that will help them close the gap between their work and the learning outcome. Feedback should be about the qualities of a student’s work. 
10) Students Actually Use the Feedback
Students are given time to read teacher feedback comments. Students must act upon the feedback to close the gap.
11) Student self-evaluation and peer evaluation
Students analyze either their own work or a peer’s work in relationship to the success criteria. Students self-reflect on themselves as learners. 

 
We compiled 55 simple strategies to formatively assess students understanding of social studies.

We have made great strides in some of these areas. For example, #4 - teachers have been able to collaborate in their PLCs to determine what should be taught. They have developed remediation plans. We still have work to do and will continue to move forward in assessing student understanding of social studies concepts.
FOCUS
1) Staff will focus on developing several common formative assessments to assess student learning while they are in the middle of a unit so remediation can be done well before the final summative assessment. Hopefully this way there will not be as many students to remediate after the summative assessment. 
2) Use technology for quick feedback for students. Teachers will use a variety of ways to give common formative assessments. They will use the SMART Response system (clickers), Socrative iPad app, online textbook assessments, and other technology methods.
3) Additionally, teachers will assess writing formatively by allowing students time to write in class and checking student writing along the way (e.g., checking thesis statement, checking first body paragraph, checking student use of Thinking Like a Historian in the writing, checking refuting an argument).
Teachers will be encouraged to assess learning to informally assess student learning (e.g., listening to the questions students ask during or after class, listening to pair-share and small group discussions, collecting exit passes, etc.)
RESOURCES
James Popham (who recently spoke at the Minnetonka Institute) has a book on formative assessment entitled Transformative Assessment. The first chapter can be read online. Dylan Wiliam offers many practical ideas and great analogies in his book entitled Embedded Formative Assessment. 
 Discussion of Quick Response Systems
 
Using VoiceThread to pre-assess

  Using Smartboard, whiteboards, and student self-recording   TCI guy discusses informal assessment
 

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