Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wrapping it up - Embedded Formative Assessment

I love when a book really makes me think, and Embedded Formative Assessment is no exception. I've already posted a few times on quotes that really hit home for me, but this post is more as a record of strategies I want to implement in my classroom next year. A key thing that I've learned is that I need to learn to be more deliberate about my lesson planning. As a younger teacher, that was a given, but as a more experienced teacher, I haven't been as deliberate in my questioning and the instructional strategies that I have used in the classroom.

  • Have students individually take a test or do an AP problem, like normal. However, instead of me scoring them or writing feedback, give the students back their unmarked answer sheet, put them into groups with a blank copy of the assessment, and have them compile a group answer. This could produce wonderful discussions!

  • Use exit passes more. If you follow me on pinterest, you may have seen me pinning some of the awesome ideas about exit passes and post-it notes. I really want to get to the point of using these on a more regular basis, such as a quickwrite answer to the essential question of the day, work a problem, etc. I really like the idea of using the exit pass to create groups for the next day, but I don't know if I could keep up with that on a regular basis.

  • Create a set of A/B/C/D cards to use in class. I have a set of clickers, but sometimes (often?), simpler can be better. This could be very useful for practicing AP Multiple Choice questions or matching graphs to descriptions, etc. To extend this idea, use the "Four Corners" discussion method.

  • Make sure that each activity/lesson has a clear learning objective. As EFA says, "It is relatively easy to think up cool stuff for students to do in classrooms, but the problem with such an activity-based approach is that too often, it is not clear what students are going to learn."

  • To help students develop a "nose for quality", ask them to look at student work samples, rank them, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each sample. I really like this idea for AP Review or lab reports in Forensic Science. An extension of this would be the error analysis worksheets in Algebra, so that hopefully the students don't make the same mistakes. By providing students the opportunity to discuss quality work, they should be able to internalize that feedback to their own work.

  • Integrate "hinge" questions into my lessons. By using discussion and diagnostic questions, I can gather information about student understanding and misunderstandings before the summative assessment. By spending the time up-front to probe student thinking, I can hopefully save time in the grading and feedback cycle. This won't be easy, but by I plan to use more AP questions to help with this.

  • Integrate more written and verbal discussion. According to EFA, "Engaging in classroom discussion really does make you smarter." I think using richer tasks, articles, reflections, cooperative learning strategies, these discussions will be a natural byproduct.

  • Create a method to randomly select students. In the past, I've not been much of a fan of the "popsicle stick" method, etc, but mainly due to my own insecurities. I am a very introverted student and *hated* being called on in class. It really creates major anxiety for me and I am sure it does for my students as well. However, integrating this with the classroom discussion, it would be less stressful to call on a student randomly and ask them to share their group discussion. This should be less anxiety producing as well as requiring students to be more engaged as they have to participate in the group chat.

  • When providing feedback, make sure I am providing a "recipe for future action." I need to help students learn HOW to get better, not just tell them to get better. :)

  • Use the "three questions" technique when grading by providing students three questions to reflect and respond to, then give them time to respond during the next lesson. Nice benefit of this technique is that no matter how well the student did on the assessment, all students have something to reflect on.

  • Read through my Kagan materials to develop Cooperative Learning structures for my classroom.

  • Create a poster for my room... 'There is more than one teacher in this room.' I would also like to create a poster with the self-assessment questions from Ch 7.

  • I am guilty of asking "Any Questions?" of my class. One idea that I really like is to have them discuss in their groups and decide what questions they still have, then writing those on a sticky note for the teacher. Then I can sort them quickly and see if there are several groups with the same question. According to EFA, this also has an added literacy benefit in helping students verbalize their struggles.

  • Use the "traffic light" color coding to help students communicate their level of understanding. I really like the idea of having them do this when reviewing for a quiz to help them learn how to prioritize their study time.

Hopefully recording these ideas here will help me actually implement them in my classroom next year!