formative assessment

Teachers share formative assessment strategies that work

Real-time observation and feedback tools help teachers snapshot student learning

Ashleigh Schulz, 4th–5th grade gifted teacher      

“I use formative assessment periodically in my classroom in varying degrees. Typically, I formally assess my students every few weeks and then three times throughout the year on a progression of the skills and standards that are required for my students to be successful in my classes.

I feel that formal assessment does have a place in the classroom, but I much prefer the “pulse” I get from informally assessing my students using my Flexcat audio system. By having speaking and listening pods placed around the classroom, I am able to gain a deeper understanding of how my students think and where I can intervene to clear up any misunderstandings before they are formally assessed.

Although tests that I create and state-provided tests measure student performance, they are often a small glimpse into what a child knows. Listening in on students’ conversations while they are collaborating on a project can provide much more in terms of knowing the thought process of students. Both methods of assessment contribute to the overall formative assessment that provides a path for me to follow for each child.

This approach also helps me mold my students into strategic test-takers. After learning their weaknesses by listening to how they solve problems, I can then coach them on the correct method of answering questions. Providing immediate feedback during student work time directly translates into their work on assessments.

I feel that I have a better understanding of my students and their personal learning needs, thus helping me provide a better learning environment and learning opportunities to the students I teach. Knowing that I can immediately step in and help anyone—or just sit back and observe—gives me the ability to be the teacher I’ve always wanted to be.

With the ability to listen to my students no matter where I am in the room, I can combine formal and informal assessments to develop formative assessments based on my students’ needs. As a teacher, using formative assessment to change your lesson is just good practice! A good teacher changes, edits, and adjusts at a moment’s notice. Formalizing a prescription for each student to help improve their personal learning is key to success.”

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