How can I use formative assessment techniques to inform my teaching and improve student learning?
Assessment has always been an interest of mine, but as I began my internship in January I quickly became aware that I had little understanding of how to use formative assessment effectively to shape my own teaching and help my student learn. I chose to focus on formative assessment techniques for my inquiry project because while I was putting formative assessment checks into my lesson plans, I really had little understanding of what I was looking for or what I would do with the information once I retrieved it. Knowing that my classroom of learners are all at different levels with different strengths and weaknesses, I wanted to focus on using embedded formative assessment to inform my teaching and help me differentiate student learning.
My project involved research, implementation, and reflection. Through reading academic articles and blogs and having conversations with other teachers, I developed an understanding of the purpose of formative assessment and built a repertoire of formative assessment techniques I wanted to try in my classroom. Next, I implemented a variety of different techniques throughout my practicum and reflected on both the process and effectiveness of each tool. Finally, I created a formative assessment handbook outlining my key learning insights and effective formative assessment techniques.
Through this project I gained a better understanding of how formative assessment fits into teaching and learning. I built a repertoire of formative assessment techniques that I can use with multiple grade-levels in various contexts. But perhaps more importantly, I was able to experience the constant and intentional process of adjusting and modifying instruction and maintaining a clear objective of what I was asking of my students and what success would look like.
Below are three key insights gained through this project:
- Ensuring that students understand what they are meant to be doing and what constitutes "quality work" is the first step to ensuring that students are successful. I learned that only when my student understand the “why” and “what” could they be successful and chart their own learning.
- While formative assessment is often done “on the fly” it is important that such opportunities are also embedded into daily instruction. Planning for multi-level questioning and opportunities for students to reflect on their learning and communicate their level of understanding takes time but it is essential to eliciting evidence of student learning.
- A key goal of formative assessment is to activate students as owners of their own learning. We want to equip students to take responsibility for their own learning by showing them where to go and helping them understand how to get there.
My final product is a handbook (created in Google Slides) that summarizes my findings and outlines various formative assessment techniques what I have found to be effective in the classroom.
Naomi Entz is first and foremost a life-long learner! Naomi has just completed her PSIII internship in Lethbridge, teaching literacy, social, and science. She is very excited to be completing her degree and beginning her teaching career.