Thursday, July 25, 2013

formative assessment

I've been reading and thinking about assessment a lot lately. It's such an essential part of the teaching process, and I've been working on ways to improve my formative assessment plan for my own teaching. In doing so, I've read a couple of great resources that you might be interested in that I thought I'd share with you, dear readers.

As a literacy person, I was drawn first to Fisher & Frey's The Formative Assessment Action Plan: Practical Steps to More Successful Teaching and Learning. I know of Fisher & Frey through their literacy work, particularly in content literacy, so I was excited to read about their take on formative assessment. Though these educators come from a literacy background, the text is one that is applicable across disciplines. They have based their action plan on the work of Hattie & Temperley (2007), and their proposed formative assessment system of three components: feed-up, feedback, feed-forward. Each component is guided by a question:

Feed-up: Where am I going?
Feedback: How am I doing?
Feed-forward: Where am I going next?

Essentially, feed-up is helping students establish a purpose to the assingment/assessment, feedback provides students with information about what has been successful or needs work, and feed-forward is using assessment data in order to plan instruction. ASCD has published a study guide for this text, in case you're interested in using it as a part of a PLC or grade-level discussion.

Another text on formative assessment that has been helpful for me this summer as I've re-thought my assessment plans is Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam. Wiliam presents a review of the varied definitions of formative assessment and a historical look at formative assessment processes in schools that is helpful in developing a context for formative assessment. Every chapter provides examples and practical techniques to help teachers rethink their assessment processes.

Finally, I've returned to Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide by Linda Suskie. Though this text is a bigger picture for higher education faculty on assessment, there are some really helpful chapters on a successful assessment culture, organizing an assessment process, and using assessment results effectively.

What are your go-to resources for formative assessment?

Frey, N., & Fisher, D. (2011). The formative assessment action plan: Practical steps to more successful teaching and learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Hattie, J., & Temperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77, 81-112.
Suskie, L. (2009). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (2nd ed.). San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution-Tree Press.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

writing with a lowercase w

Last summer, I had the absolute privilege of not only hearing Ralph Fletcher give his keynote talk at the Minnesota Reading Association's annual conference, but of sitting across from him at dinner that evening. If you aren't familiar with his work, Ralph Fletcher is an amazing writer, writing picturebooks and chapter books for young children, books for young writers, and books about teaching writing. When I was first teaching, I came across his books for teachers and found them inspiring and so practical. I use his books in my university courses now, and I was pretty geeked out to get to meet him.

At the table at dinner, we had a delightful conversation that spanned many topics - both professional and personal. At one point, we circled back to writing. We were talking about the troubling trend that has left little time in schools for writing. Writing with a lowercase w. The playful, creative, engaging writing that motivates students.Writing to learn. Writing that isn't the 4th grade animal report or the 5 paragraph essay.

His book How Writer's Work is very helpful in thinking about the conditions that nurture writing. Writing is not a prescribed process, one-size-fits-all, and this text can be really helpful in thinking about planning for writing in your classroom that support interesting, motivated writing from students. If you're thinking about revamping the writing in your classroom for next year, check it out!

Ralph Fletcher blogs regularly at The Writer's Desk and he tweets too. Keep up with his thoughts there!