Archive for the 'Growth' Category

Self-Assessment as Critical Skill: Formative Assessment as a Stepping Stone

I am painfully aware that helping students to be able to self-assess is a slow task. On the other hand, I realize how critical this skill is as a lifelong skill. Unless students can self-assess, they will not be able to improve on their own. I certainly do not want my students dependent on me for the rest of their lives to make sure that they are “correct”. I want them to be able to determine for themselves what they are doing and how well it helps them to get to their desired goal. They should be empowered to make their own decisions about the things they do. They do need our help in developing from very structured self-assessments  (Right or Wrong for lower level answers) to evaluating their decisions without any given criteria. Students need to transition through this process.

Formative assessment provides a wonderful stepping stone to self-assessment. As students learn to assess others, they learn what is important about the learning, how that learning can be demonstrated, and  how to identify and implement formative feedback.  They develop the skill to objectively look at their own work. They understand  that they have the techniques to improve.  As one of my English students said, ” I’m learning to look at my own paper as I do when I peer review another student’s paper.”

How do you help your students to be able to self-assess? Do you use formative assessment as a stepping stone?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Students vote to improve -Formative Assessment

I teach a freshmen college  English course. I’ve been using formative assessment throughout the course.  We do at least five very structured formative assessment peer reviews before we even write a draft (Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment).  During today’s class, we  peer reviewed a draft of their contrast essay.  I asked the class to vote whether they wanted 1)  to hand in their essays the next class which was just before  the vacation or 2) to do another  peer review  and have the essays due after Spring Break. I told them I would do whichever they wanted.  90% voted to have their essays peer-reviewed again. They wanted more formative feedback so that their writing could improve!  One student even boasted as he showed me  his peer-reviewed draft, “Look at all the ways I can do better!”

How do you use formative assessment to constantly assess students and to “instantly” help them to improve?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Using Writing Formative Assessments for At-Risk students

Recently I received an email from someone who had purchased my Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment.  She said that she was, at first, shocked by how I had objectified English by breaking each part of the writing process down.  She said that she had assumed that her students “knew” all the basic things about writing. However, when she began to use the book’s formative assessments for each part of the pre-writing process, she quickly found out that they did not. She  realized that they became stuck very early in the writing process and, therefore, did not move forward.  She told me that she never thought about giving students different strategies to overcome their writing gaps; she just assumed their present writing strategy was effective.  She used some of the book’s  various strategy to help them.    She commented that she could see success in her students as they used the strategy.  She ended up by saying that she was now aware of how much structure students need to be successful and how these formative assessments provided that structure.

Obviously, I felt good about her comments.  The writing formative assessments  that I included in the book were ones that I have used  in a college writing course that I teach. Some of the students in the class dropped out of school in six grade and am now working on their GED as they are taking college courses. My job is help these “at-risk” students  to go from six grade writing to college level writing in one semester.  Through the use of constant formative assessments I can guide them from where they are to where they need to be so they can  write college-level academic essays. The writing  formative assessments build in student success and  build in student confidence in their writing.

My  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

My book,  Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Formative assessment keeps students from getting stuck in pot holes

The more I teach and the more I observe other teachers, the more I see formative assessments as avoiding or filling in the pot holes as soon as they show up in students’ learning.  Our students can only hit so many pot holes in their learning before they get an educational flat and cannot continue.  If students do not get the help to overcome these pot holes, then they give up. The students know when they hit a pot hole but they do not know how to avoid it in the future.  If we do not give them a new strategy, then they will continue to hit the same pot hole in their learning. They will get stuck and not be able to proceed forward in their learning.  Let’s keep students on the road to learning, not stuck  in their learning gap pot holes!

Formative Assessment books by Harry Grover Tuttle

Build a real class learning community

Teachers can create a class community such as everyone knowing two things about everyone else in the class without having a learning community where students continually work together to better each other.   Likewise, teachers can have students work together (Student A does this/ student B does that….) without really collaborating (interacting and changing the individual or group’s ideas) .

I would propose using formative assessment to build a class learning community. When students continually help each other by peer-reviewing and offering new ideas to others, they  have a learning community.  For example, in pairs, the students have peer-reviewed each other’s brainstormed evidence for an English essay and the teacher has given the original authors time to make appropriate changes. Then they continue being formative by creating groups of three to four.  In turn, each author reads his/her thesis and his/her brainstormed evidence; the group has the responsibility of adding three to four new pieces of evidence to the original list. After they help the first person, they rotate through the group.  Each group has a single purpose: to help each author to have three to four new pieces of evidence.  Those groups are truly learning communities

What learning communities do you have in your class?

My new book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Continuous Assessment

The British have used the term continuous assessment or assessment for learning for many years.  I like the term continuous assessment since it implies that students are continually being monitored and given feedback to improve. Continuous assessment differs from the “unit” test or “every five week” tests that do not provide feedback directly to the students and that do not occur on a daily or weekly basis  in the classroom. Continuous assessment changes our approach to the classroom; we spend more time observing students for their learning progress and giving them new strategies rather  than “teaching”.  We measure our success by how successful the students are as they learn  the essential goals of our course. We know that students will improve throughout the year and we reward that growth instead of counting their early attempts (such as the first essay of the year) equally with their final achievements. Their grades represent continuous improvement.  Continuous assessment returns us to our initial reason for being teachers; our students show that they now have the profound learning in our subject that we wanted to share with them.

My new book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Reponding to Your Students

How Many Formative Assessments Do You Do Each Period?

The only way to know how well the students are doing is for constant formative assessments or check-ins. If we do monitor students’ progress, then we have to have strategies ready to help the students who are progressing. I suggest that we should do three or more formative assessments each period.  At present I teach a Composition and Research course at a college and, specifically, we are doing classification essays.   Students self-check to see if for their chosen  topic, they have three classifications and that those classifications do not overlap. They see or hear several examples of classifications that do or do not overlap.  They have time to make changes.  Then peers look their papers to see if they have three classifications and if there is any doubt that two classifications may be too similar. The peers circle the two classifications that seem similar and put a question mark next to them.  The peers talk to the writers to explain what they perceive as the overlap.  The students have time to make changes. At the same time, I walk around and comment on any students’ paper that is lacking three classifications or that seems to have  overlaps. I suggests ways to avoid the overlap such as changing the classification name to be more general such as “music” to “entertainment” or ways of narrowing the classification from “fast cars” to “sports cars”.

During each class the students self-assess themselves, peer assess, and I assess at least three  times each class.  Every class every student becomes successful; no students get stuck in their learning gap.

How often do you have formative assessments in your class?

Harry Grover Tuttle's two formative assessment books

Web 2.0 Learning Only Works With Critical Learning

Web 2.o  allows students to have more access to information through the social interactions. Collecting information is not creating knowledge.  Some  of my writing students have a ton of information about a topic through Web 2.0 tools but they cannot put the information together in a coherent fashion. The problem is not access to information; the problem is thinking.  As we get more into Web 2.0, we need to get more into Critical Thinking.  Students need to be able to analyze, synthesis, and evaluate information (Bloom) . They need to be able to see information from various perspectives (Chaffee) and to think through various aspects of the issue  such as purpose and  consequences  (Noisch). If we want to “teach” how to use Web 2.o tools, then we need to teach Critical Thinking.  Instead of  Web 2.o courses/”new literacies” courses, we need “Critical Thinking with Web 2.0” courses. The thinking skills will be transferable as new tech tools quickly evolve.

Let’s focus on critical 21st century thinking skills so we can use Web 2.0 tools wisely!

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Baby Walking and Improving Student Learning

My grandson is beginning to walk. He takes about ten steps and then falls down. He crawls over to the nearest table/chair and gets up again. He does not get discouraged about failing to walk many steps. He walks some more and falls down again.

How do we help our students to not get discouraged about their failures?  Do we use the “fail forward” mentality that a failure is simply an indication that we tried something that did not work and now we can try something that can work?  A mistake is an opportunity to learn. When students see their answers and work  as work in progress, they are more willing to take chances and move forward. When we do not criticize them but help them to see how to improve, we encourage them to see failures as stepping stones as opposed to stop signs.

How do you show your students  that learning from  mistakes is a sign of growth?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Revisions and Formative Assessment

I find that if I ask students to revise their work based on my formative feedback, some of them do make the changes  and others do not.  However, if the students have to create a Change sheet, they do make the changes.  In the Change sheet, they list the original learning problem, tell what they did to improve, and include an example from their most recent work.  As I look at their revisions, I first look at the original rubric, then their Change sheet, then put their previous work and their revised work side by side. I look for the changes in their revision. I look to see if they have changed all of the items for each formative feedback. For example, if I asked a student to improve his/her topic sentences, I look to see if all the original poorly done topic sentences have changed. If students have made the revisions for the three major areas of feedback and, therefore, reached the level of proficiency or above proficiency, they receive a new higher grade.

How do you help your students to improve?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Providing Classroom Variation

My wife and I like to go to productions of  the musical Godspell to see how the director will vary the setting, costumes, and dialogue and yet keep the central message of the play. Godspell is a musical that encourages variation.

I wonder how much most classroom teacher encourage variations on the central learning. One English teacher has all of his students write on the same topic for a contrast essay. Another English teacher lets her students select their own topic from a very long list or come up with their own topic for a contrast essay. One   social studies teacher has his students answer the questions from the text book chapter. Another teacher has her students find news articles about the topic and react to the news articles. One science teacher hands out a description of “the” project.  Another teacher provides a tic-tac-toe board with various projects  arranged by learning style.

When we allow students choice, they are more invested in their learning. They have more opportunity to engage themselves through their own interests in their  central learning. They think more and they learn more.

How do you encourage variation?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Learning as dancing

One of my student compared being a student to learning to dance with someone. You have to figure out where the person is taking you. You learn how the other person moves.  You learn how to respond.  You learn the boundaries.

Often students spend much of a class in figuring out this dance. They may not know the “real” course goals. They may not know how they will be assessed. They may not know how they are to complete assignments (the procedures and expectations). They do not know the limits (They have not seen an exemplar).  They step on many toes in doing this dance; they stumble.  We need to step back and show them the “secrets” of our dance so that they can spend time dancing instead of trying to figure out the dance. Let’s scaffold our class for success in each part of the dance so that the students can do a joyful dance of learning!

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

High Expectations For Our Students: Our Responsibility

Robyn Jackson in Never Worker Harder than Your Students differentiates between standards and expectations.

The standards specify what high level content or process learning we want of the students. Expectations refer to our belief that we can help the students  to get there. If we have high expectations, then we believe that we can help the pupils to be successful. If we have low expectations, then we do not feel that we can help them learn. If we truly have high expectations, then we will figure out what we can do to help the students to  grow in the standard to the point of achievement. We do not focus on what they cannot do, we focus on what we can help them be able to do. We do not focus on what they do not know, we focus on how to help them obtain the prerequisite knowledge or skills in the context of the course. If we have high expectations, we do not ask students to learn the missing material or skills on their own, we build knowledge or skill development into our class into mini-lessons targeted to help them. If we have high expectations, we take responsibility for their growth; we work on the solution, not cursing the problem. If we have high expectations for our students, we promise ourselves that they will be successful in our class due to our efforts.

Do you have high expectations for your students? How do your students know?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Baby’s Learning and Our Students’ Learning

My wife and I  have taken care of our ten month old grandson for two days.  He  now puts Cheerios in his mouth.  He cannot yet feed himself with spoon. Life skills take a long time to develop.

I teach a college composition and research course  in which I spend the whole semester in having the learners develop their essay skills. Most students come in with a very low level of skill. Numerous students write their first essay as one long paragraph with no introduction, no conclusion, no major categories of proof, no evidence and no detailed examples. By the end of the course,  they can write a full five paragraph essay in 50 minutes. We constantly assess and improve upon the various skills in essay writing until they can skillfully use them.

I wonder how much time we spend in our classes in teaching the life skills of our course. Do we give our students prolonged time to learn, practice, and be assessed on their critical skills?  Do we consciously build on the skill over time to get it to a proficient level?  Do we revisit the skill to help them increase in their level of the skill? Do our students finally reach a level that they have developed a life skill of our course?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Going to the Well to Be Refreshed

I recently attended a conference.  Yes, I did a presentation but I really went to go to the well, to refresh myself with new ideas and new viewpoints.

When people present different viewpoints, I have an opportunity to better examine my own views.  When a teacher tells how her first grade students use a wiki for literature study,  I am confronted with my belief that wikis are for older students, a belief that I did not know I had.

I like to take someone’s idea and extend it or elaborate on it. For example, a person talked about a website that offered assistance to students at various points in the learning.  I began to think of how I can  build help into student material such as handouts or PowerPoints.

What well have you gone to recently (talking content with a colleague, exploring a topic on the web, reading a professional journal, viewing an educational show or a Youtube video on the topic)? How have your let yourself grow due to this experience? Be refreshed and a better educator!

Be more positive than negative

Do you use a positive or negative mentality in your class? Do you focus on pointing out the positives of students’ learning or do you concentrate more on the negatives?

Tom Connellan, “Inside the Magic Kingdom”, pgs 91-95 asserts that

If students see…………………………….they perceive it as

1 compliment, 1 negative………………negative

2 compliments, 1 negative…………….neutral

3 compliments, 1 negative……………positive

I almost agree.  I think that students need an abundance of compliments before they really believe the comments are positive. I think that 3 to 1 is borderline positive. I would argue that a 5:1 ratio is needed for students to feel that they are doing positive work. If they feel that positive about their work, then they are willing to make formative changes.  If they do not feel very positive, they will not attempt the changes.

Try the 5:1 rule and see the change in your students.

For any one who is interested in implementing formative assessment in the classroom, my book,
Formative Assessment: Responding to Students is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Making the learning stick

When I was putting the insulation on my windows, I had two different products. One had the instruction of waiting fifteen minutes before I removed the backing to the two sided tape. The other did not have that instruction. The fifteen minute wait tape was far superior to the other.

I wonder how much time we give our students to stick to their new learning before we ask them to use it. Fisher and Fry suggest in Better Learning Through Structured Teaching that when we give our initial modeling of the new learning, we do not ask students to actively participate but, instead they are to think about this new learning. If they do not firmly understand the modeling before we ask them to practice it, then there is a high likely hood that they will do it incorrectly. Their first steps of doing it wrong will be cemented into their brains. Instead, we can model the learning for them and go over an exemplar of it. We can let them think about the new learning and then scaffold them through it.

Let’s organizing our teaching so that we allow students plenty of time to think about the new learning before they are asked to do it. Let’s let them get firmly stuck to the new learning before they use it.

For any one who is interested in implementing formative assessment in the classroom, my book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students is available through Eye-on-Education.

How Many Academic Firsts Do You Celebrate?

My wife and I went to see our son, daughter-in-law and our grandson. These parents proudly talked about each first success of the baby- the first time he rolled over, the first time he had cereal, the first time he made something move…

I wonder how proudly we talk with our students about their successes. Do you acknowledge each of the students’ firsts? Do you let your students know on a daily or weekly basis their successes? Do you break your curriculum down so that they can celebrate small successes instead of waiting until the end unit test to be able to show a success? Do you celebrate each success to motivate them in their learning? Do you celebrate each success to show them that they are moving forward? Do you celebrate each success so that when they find a task especially difficult they can look back to their previous successes and know that they can achieve this task? Do you scaffold the curriculum so that they can easily move from success to success or do you have a sink-or-swim approach to student learning? Do your students look forward to the next challenge so that they can show how well they are doing or do they dread the exercise that they know they will fail at?

How do you make your curriculum a success one for students so that they constantly have new learning firsts?

If you are interested in implementing formative assessment in the classroom, my book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students is available through Eye-on-Education.

Alternative Grading To Reflect Student Growth (Formative View)

I mentioned in a previous blog how I felt that my grading did not represent the true height of student learning but it did penalize the students for their early low scores.

Here are two possibilities:

1. Assign different grades different weight. Grades from the beginning of the project get 10% weight, middle get 30% and the ending ones get 60%. That way a grade of 60 (beginning), 70 (middle), and 100 (ending) results in a 90, rather than the average of 76. This can also work for lower-level thinking getting 10%, Application-Analysis getting 30%,and Synthesis-Evaluation getting 60%

2. Do not assign grades until the ending of the learning. Only give comments. If you use the same checklist/rubric, scale to assess the students, they can see their progress from time to time.

Feed Forward From Student Learning Gaps to Student Success

Student Present Learning Status to Success in Standard Fishbone

How do you identify the student’s present standard condition (strengths and areas for improvement /”learning gaps”)  through the use of technology?
How do you help provide scaffolding so that the student moves forward in the standard through the use of technology?
How do you assess that the student has been successful in the standard through technology?

Wiki as Presentation Tool

PBwiki site

If your students have worked collaboratively to create a learning product through a small group wiki, then why not have them present their product via the same wiki? They already have the information from all of its stages -from brainstorms through various drafts. They can copy the information to a clean wiki page and organize it. They can either link to other presentation pages or they can move all information to one long scrolling page (put in about 12 blank lines between each aspect so that each aspect shows up by itself on the screen). They do not have to go to PowerPoint to do their presentation.

This type of presentation is especially good to demonstrate changes in thinking, growth in the project, and increasing levels of complexity. Students can show parts of their early brainstorm and then show their final product. They can show the various decisions that the group went through. Group members can add their feedback to each other and any teacher feedback and show how that feedback was incorporated to create a better product.

Have your students used a wiki for presentation?

Students Measuring Up in The Standards

Student Standards Growth

I remember when my boys were little, we would measure them against the door post. They could see their growth. “See how big I am!”

How do you enable your students to see their standards-based academic growth? Growth is not determined by grades. Growth is not measured by how many pages of the text were read. Growth is not assessed by how many units were covered. Growth is not determined by how many projects were done in class. Growth is not assessed by how long a term paper was. Growth is not determined by how many blog entries each student made. Growth is not assessed by how many websites they visited. Growth is measured by the students’ achievement in standards-based learning.

What “door post” will you provide your students with? Start with a list of performance indicators for the standards you are covering. What specific key standard components have the students mastered while in your class? How will you make visible their learning? How will each student become aware of which performance indicators he or she has mastered? You can use the technology of spreadsheets and word processed charts to start in the measurement process. When each student sees all of his or her mastered standard performance indicators together, he or she will see his or her growth! Then your students can each say “See how big I am!”

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


RSS Education with Technology

  • Tech Integration Teacher, What time is it? August 23, 2016
    When someone asks what time it is, that person wants to know the time, not the history of the clock, not how a clock works, and not what other types of clocks there are. Classroom teachers want to help their students improve their academic learning through technology. Sometimes they need help with technology so they go […]
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  • Curriculum Focus, Not Technology Focus July 28, 2016
    In my public school career I have been a classroom teacher, a technology integration specialist and a technology administrator. In my technology role, I served under the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction. She had a simple mission: Improve students’ academic learning. My mission was equally simple: Improve students’ academic learning through technology […]
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  • Students React to Digital Badges: Pros, Cons and Interesting June 22, 2016
      ISTE 2016 By Harry Grover Tuttle, Ed. D. College World Language Students’ Preferences Digital Badges – 52%        Paper Certificates – 48% World Language: Can-Do Digital Badges Digital Badges Pro- – Breaks down proficiency more – Shows all badges at once – Is more attractive – Is more appropriate since we use […]
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  • Digital Badges: Naming the Badge October 29, 2015
    Once teachers have selected what learning and what digital badges (individual or category badges; see previous blog), the teachers encounter another decision. What will they name each badge? Will they use the full name of the Common Core Standard or the national proficiency? For English, under “Speaking and Listening,”will they write out SL.2 “Integrate and […]
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  • Digital Badges: Better Than Grades? October 19, 2015
    Teachers understand that the grade in a course consists of many different factors such as homework, participation , projects, tests, etc. Blodget observes that sometimes grades reflect attitude, effort, ability and behavior (http://www.academia.edu/9074119/Grading_and_Whether_or_not_Grades_Accurately_Reflect_Student_Achievement). Equally important, a letter […]
    hgtuttle
  • World Language Students Use of Mobile Devices in the Classroom October 5, 2015
    Do world language students use technology n the classroom? Do their  teachers go beyond having their students use technology simply for the drill and practice in vocabulary and grammar? Students can use laptops and mobile devices to hear authentic language, read authentic texts, read tweets about famous performers, see up-to-the-moment culture,  watch video […]
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  • Digital Badges: Individual or Categorized Learning Badges? September 12, 2015
    The idea of digital badges sounds appealing for the digital children in classes. As teachers start thinking about digital badges, they have to figure out what badges will be awarded. The teachers can award social or academic badges. If teachers decide to use academic badges, then the teachers may base their badges on the Common […]
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  • English +Common Core +Mobile = Success (ISTE2014 Poster -details) June 30, 2014
    Here are the ten examples I showed at my English + Common Core  + Mobile ISTE 2014 Poster Session: Based on CCSS Anchor Statements: L.2 Take a Conventions Mobile Online Quiz  to pick the  incorrect sentence from four choices (capitalization) SL.2  Evaluate audio recording of a  book chapter on mobile and predict for next chapter. […]
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  • Global Cultural Learning Using Mobile Devices (ISTE Mobile MegaShare Presentation) June 28, 2014
    Based on my presentation at ISTE 2014 Mobile Megashare Why teach about other countries? Location: Large view to small on maps. Culture or culture. Find six similarities in a  mobile picture from another culture (“Wars are caused by differences, not similarities.”-Tuttle.) Tell one piece of information from each different Internet visual from a place in that […]
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  • English + Common Core + Mobile = Success in Learning Poster Session at ISTE 2014 June 25, 2014
    In my ISTE Sunday 8-10 am poster session, I demonstrate many diverse mobile activities to help students achieve the English Language Arts Common Core Anchor Statements through mobile devices. The mobile activities focus on free common tool apps that are available on both the Android and the iPad. The students use the apps as a seamless […]
    hgtuttle

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