Am I a geek or a nerd?

Another good idea turned bad…
January 14, 2010, 8:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Formative Assessment.

An awesome thing that good teachers do constantly, sometimes without realizing it, because it’s so ingrained. Its simple really, the idea that you continually use feedback from your students to adjust your instruction. I’ll give a non-classroom example: my coach. She assigns me tasks (for example, this morning a 3100 yard swim with several components), I report my performance and metrics-my swim times for various parts, the overall feel, what I ate beforehand, my resting HR when I woke this morning, my sleep quality and quanity, my nutrition and hydration. Based on that information she adjusts my future swims. Sometimes it means keep on rolling with the plan, sometimes it means we need to step back. So lets say that today my HR was too high and I couldn’t meet the time targets. Based on collective story (my sleep, my water intake etc) she may determine that I’ve done a bit too much this week and need to reduce yards. Or she might tell me to go to bed earlier and drink more water. Either way, I didn’t do a “practice race” to see if I was ready for the “real race”–its much more intricate an idea than that.

Of course, as soon as it was determined that good teachers use formative assessments administrators wanted to see teacher doing formative assessments. They started asking for consultants that would help them write formative assessments and requesting that testing companies provide these sorts of things. The problem is that you can’t write them. That hasn’t stopped the phone calls to my office asking for help producing formative assessments. Testing companies and administrators and even many teachers are confusing practice tests and formative assessment. Don’;t even get me started on the data reporting they expect from these “formative” assessments.

I’m not the only one who feels this way, Renee Moore over at TeachMoore thinks the same thing, and she writes about better than I can. Visit her! She’ll ask you to reclaim formative assessment for your classroom.


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