Monday, October 29, 2018

Four Foundations Top Ten Habits: #2

Next on the Four Foundations Top Ten list is:

"I make it a habit to write clear, student-learning-focused learning targets."

While all of the 'top ten' are important habits for us as teachers to cultivate, this one--writing clear learning targets that are focused on student learning--may be the most crucial. The foundation laid by having learning targets that are clear in your mind, that focus on what students learn and not on the topic or (worse) what the teacher does, allows us to build interesting and successful lessons. 

If we're unclear on what the student learning is, or if we focus on the wrong things (topic, teacher action), we won't know--and students won't know--when the desired learning has actually happened. One sign that we might be veering from clear targets is if we're having difficulty coming up with formative assessments to check for understanding. If we're confused about what we're checking for, the first place to look is at the target.

For more on writing clear, student-learning-focused learning targets see:

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Four Foundations Top Ten Habits #1


The first of the Four Foundations Top Ten  is, "I make it a habit to plan unit and daily lesson learning targets before planning activities."

Planning the targets first helps to focus our attention and time on what is truly important for our students to learn in that unit and that lesson. It also encourages us to keep the lessons tuned into the learning rather than the activity itself--learning activities are simply means by which students gain the target. With the target in mind we're in a better position to select the best activity.

Great teachers make it a habit to think through carefully the learning targets for each lesson prior to planning activities. 

For more on this, see pages 5-7 of Four Foundations of Great Teaching

Monday, June 18, 2018

Formative Assessment Workshop Packet

The link below is to a scan of the packet to be handed out at my workshop on formative assessment at the ACCS conference (June 22, 2018).

Formative Assessment Packet for 2018 ACCS Conference

Monday, April 23, 2018

Formative Assessment: From Hand Signals to Harkness Discussions


A previous post  (Formative assessment and Bloom's) connected formative assessment methods with Bloom's taxonomy. The chart below moves from very simple quick-checks such as hand signals to more complex and thorough methods like harkness discussions, again connecting them to Bloom's.

Below I've included only a portion of the chart. The full document is available on Google docs using the link.

Method
Bloom’s
Quick Checks
Hand Signals
Knowledge, Comprehension
 White Boards
Knowledge
Writing Prompts
Crystal Ball (prediction)
Application
Take a Stand
Evaluation
         Exit Pass

Pretend a classmate was absent from class today. Tell them what was most important from today’s lesson.
Knowledge
What is the most important thing we learned today.
Application
What concept has been most difficult or confusing in this lesson/section/reading?
Analysis, Evaluation
Write down one question you have about today’s lesson
Analysis
Write down one thing I can do to help you
Evaluation
What do you need to do to prepare for tomorrow’s discussion
Evaluation
What would you like us to review tomorrow?
Evaluation
How did today’s discussion go? What do you need to do to improve for next time?
Analysis
If you were writing a quiz over today’s material, what are two questions that you would include?
Synthesis, Knowledge
Write down two things you learned today.
Knowledge
Admit Slip
Knowledge, Comprehension
Yesterday’s News (review previous learning)
Comprehension

View the rest of the chart here for sticky notes, graphic organizers, discussions, etc.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Focus on Formative Assessment: Extending an Exit Pass from CFU to Review

The exit passes below are examples from those collected toward the end of a recent Humane Letters 11 period to check students' recall of factors favoring Great Britain at the beginning of the industrial revolution. 
I used them for a quick check for understanding that period, and then the next day for a quick review and formative assessment activity. Together this only took about ten minutes. 

Day One
This only took a few minutes. Perhaps three for the initial list, then 1-2 for the quick round robin.
  • Exit pass (index card) handed out toward the end of the period. Students listed from memory all of the items they could recall from our discussion that period. 
  • I collected the exit passes
  • We then did a quick 'round robin', going as many rounds as needed to get them all. 
This kind of exercise may be limited for long-term retention, but it is excellent for checking for understanding (CFU). 


Day Two
I used the exit passes the next day to review and also to check for understanding--a quick bit of formative assessment. The following took less than five minutes at the beginning of the next period. 
  • I added 'distractors' to the cards, items that were false, inaccurate, or misleading (e.g. "large population of serfs", "significant petroleum reserves").
  • I had the students put their heads down. Using hand signals (thumbs up for true, thumbs down for false, thumbs sideways for unsure) they responded to the items (both what they had written the previous day and the distractors) as I read them from the cards. 
  • Any incorrect or uncertain responses we discussed. Students explained their answers, with scaffolding and follow-up, as needed.  If all were in agreement a student might be asked to explain their response. 
  • Any items not read were added and discussed together.