Posts Tagged 'Assess'

Assessment and Mobile Learning Questions

Technology can play a critical role in the learning process.  Here are some questions about assessment and mobile learning to think about as you plan for your mobile learning.

Who/ What  will assess the students’ mobile learning?
A) the same mobile app that the student worked on
B) a  different mobile app
C)  the teacher corrects a paper and pencil quiz
D)  an online  program evaluates learning
E) the teacher assesses the students’ paper, presentation or project that incorporates learning from the mobile device
F) some one in the class, school,  or another school assesses the learning.
G) some one outside the school, from the community, an organization, etc. assesses the learning.
H) the students self-evaluate and reflect on how to improve

Will the assessment be?
A) summative ( a final grade)
B) formative with  specific feedback and an opportunity for improvement

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at   http://is.gd/tbook

My modern language blogs are  now at  http://bit.ly/imprml.  I have developed 27  Spanish activities and 4 Modern Language Visual activities in which students begin to express themselves in the modern language and to  move toward spontaneous speaking Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

Mobile Learning and Assessment

Can use a wide variety of mobile devices and of mobile apps for capturing student learning, analyzing it, providing feedback, and recognizing learning success.

Identify the specific learning goal

Have QR codes for exemplars that students can refer to anytime during the learning process

Pre-assess with mobile device: Need data to go to one location for analysis

Monitor and collect student data: Transform non-data activities such as texting into data ones. Constant monitoring of students. Daily/weekly review of data. Mobile device  spreadsheet of students’ scores

Use formative assessment: In-class performance tasks and short quizzes

Provide feedback: QR code to New strategy to overcome learning gap; Differentiate in strategies

Peer assess: While doing task on app or after learning task

Self assess: See progress and evaluate how to become better

Use Eportfolio: Wiki Edmodo ….

Celebrate successful learning

Other resources:

Search my education and technology blog bit.ly/hgtblog (Am on EdTech’s “The Honor Roll: 50 Must-Read K–12 Education IT Blogs”).

My modern language blogs are  now at  http://bit.ly/imprml

I have developed many  Spanish activities that allow students to begin to express themselves and to begin to move toward spontaneous speaking as in a natural conversation at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My three formative assessment books, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, and Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, are available at   http://is.gd/tbook

Problems with Institutional Assessment

Assessment dominates education from K-12 through college.   There are different types of assessment, formative (helps students improve) and summative (grading of students).  However, institutional assessment  involves the bigger picture of how an institution or a department is doing academically.

In institutional assessment, teachers enter data into a  mega-database. For example, teachers may enter their students’ grades  on each section of the final. Then someone, often a department head,  analyzes the overall results using the online data, to assess the student learning across specific courses and across the department.

Institutional assessment has some basic flows
1) Most institutions have not identified a specific  enough curriculum that can be assessed.  Many contain very general statements of learning.  For example, English might state that  students will write a well-written essay. Has the English department specified what constitutes a well-written essay?  Likewise, a Modern language department may have the curriculum statement  “The student should speak in sentences that have relatively simple structures and concrete vocabulary”.  What does “speak” mean?  Does it mean to be able to talk about one’s life, to hold a conversation. to repeat from memory?  When there are only general  learning statements, there cannot be any  meaningful assessment.

2) If departments have identified specific learning goals, what is the priority of those learning goals? For example, in English the purpose of writing is to communicate ideas or feelings.  Shouldn’t the organization of ideas be more important than the spelling?  Or does spelling/grammar have the same assessment weight as organization?  Likewise,  in  Modern Languages, are all skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) treated equally in assessment weighting even though both in class and in the real world, people listen and speak almost double the amount that they read and write?  Have the specific learning goals and their priority been communicated to the teachers/students through a department website/wiki?

3) The departments do not have exemplars that show the quality that they expect of students.  Does the English department share  electronically with all English teachers essays that show what constitutes a high level paper,  an acceptable paper, and a non-acceptable paper?  Again, are these exemplars on the department website for each course?  Does the Modern Language department share audio files of  a good ten sentence conversation through their website or an their department app?

4) They have vague assessment tools.  The English department has a generic rubric (has good organization,  conveys ideas, etc.) that can be interpreted differently by different people.   What type of essay will be the written? An autobiographical essay requires a very different approach than a contrast essay.  In Modern Languages, how will writing be assessed – holistically or analytically?  If different educators can come up with different scores for the same student, then the assessment tool does not accurately measure learning.  Teachers can receive a digital image of the rubric and work assessed using that rubric.   How well does the assessment tool match up with how the information was taught in class?  Is the assessment tool such as the final developed  at the  competency level or at the highly competent level?  Students may be competent but not highly competent

5) The departments do not do a thorough analysis to get at the root problem once they have discovered a gap.   If the students do not achieve well, was it due to the  students’ lack of effort, a misunderstanding of  how to answer the  assessment question, a specific word in the  assessment question,   the thinking level of the test question,    the structure of the assessment item,  the textbook, the textbook’s powerpoints,  the teacher’s explanation, the homework, or  the online work?  Usually much additional exploration is needed to determine the real reason for the gap. Once the  department identifies the gap, what  specific strategy will help the students over come this gap?  Will the department suggest  technology-based strategies that appeal to students such as Youtube videos, interactive websites,  interactive apps  and that help the students directly overcome the gap?

6) Most important of all, how does the institutional assessment help  students improve in the course right now?  Most institutions assess once a semester.  After the analysis, the department  focuses on  what changes will happen in the future year.  Unless regular assessment is done in small intervals  throughout the year and changes made almost instantly, then the assessment does not benefit  the present students.  Next year’s students may be very different than the students who took this assessment.  Classroom teachers need access to the online data and analysis so they can take class time to provide  the students new learning strategies.  Then, students can be successful learners!

How does your institution assess  student learning?

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask  a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs),  Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawing from 2-4 people) and Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group),  Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs),  and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My three formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook

Educational Mobile Learning: A Technology Evaluation Grid

As you begin to plan for using mobile learning, use this grid to help you determine where you want to be.

Tuttle Mobile Learning Device Technology Grid

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My formative assessment books: Formative Assessment Responding to Your Students,   Student Writing Through Formative Assessment Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment. http://bit.ly/Tutbks

My 20 Spanish spontaneous speaking activities are available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, New Book

 

Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment

 

By Harry Grover Tuttle and Alan Robert Tuttle

Want a quick way to get your students conversing more in the target language? Want an easy way to help your students improve in their speaking on a daily basis? This practical book shows you how to use formative assessments to gain immediate and lasting improvement in your students’ fluency.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Help students climb the ACTFL proficiencies
  • Guide students as they develop in over sixteen language functions such as socializing and persuading
  • Embed the three-minute speaking formative assessment into every lesson with ease
  • Engage students successfully in peer formative assessment
  • Teach students to give each other formative feedback
  • Provide struggling students with over ten improvement strategies for each language function.
  • Engage students in over 170 speaking activities.
  • Use Web 2.0 tools to foster speaking
  • Move from summative assessment to daily or weekly formative evaluation of speaking

Each speaking assessment include instructions, the assessment form, extension activities, speaking topics, and at least ten strategies for improvement. There are ready-to-use checklists including the “I Can” log that helps students plot their own progress.

Research has confirmed that when teachers use formative assessment, students can learn in six to seven months what would normally take a school year to learn. You’ll find yourself using this book every day because of the gains your students will achieve in foreign language fluency.

These speaking assessment energize the class as the students have the opportunity to use a language function for a full minute. The students use language instead of practicing it.

Please share with your Modern Language teacher, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment

Web 2.0, Audience and Draft or Best? (Glogster example)

Educators state that Glogster is a great Web 2.0 tool since it makes the students’ work visible to the world.  I assume that the educators mean that the audience will be other students, teachers, and parents. Do students publish their drafts or   final products?  Usually the idea of audience implies that what a student offers to his/her audience is a final product just as musicians practice in private and then perform their best in a concert.   However, in looking at several random Glogster projects in Spanish, I discovered many basic  student errors.  Are educators having their students put their best work up on the web or just putting up rough drafts? Do we want the audience to see the many errors or do we want the audience to see the students’ best work?

The other reason to publish something is for the reaction of others to improve the work.  However, it seems that most Glogster posters are “final” posters. They do not get reviewed by others and then modified. The students simply do the e-poster.

If we believe in the power of audience as an essential element of Web 2.0, then we need to help our students give their best performances and not just their practice. Let’s improve the quality of our students’ work on the Web and therefore, help others to learn from our students.

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.

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.

Web 2.0 Use May Not Be Formative Assessment

As I look at articles, blogs, and conference sessions, I see titles like

Formative Assessment Through Clickers

Formative Assessment Through Cell phones

Formative Assessment Through the Class Blogs/Wikis

Formative Assessment Through Online Quizzes

Formative Assessment Through Twitter

Formative Assessment Through Flickr

These people are generally  using Web 2.0 tools to monitor students, the first stage of formative assessment.  They collect information about where the students are  academically.

However, formative assessment moves from the monitor stage to the diagnosis stage.  How does the students’ present status compare to the desired learning goal?  If there are learning gaps, what strategies will help the students overcome those gaps?

If teachers or Web 2.0 programs do not offer improvement strategies based on the students’ specific learning gaps, then formative assessment does not occur.  Formative Assessment is much more than just seeing how many questions the students can answer;  it helps students to improve through providing new strategies for learning.

For example, if students take an online quiz about a certain learning goal, what happens next? Do the teachers diagnosis the results to see how individuals do on each item? Do the teachers determine which minor goals the students have yet to learn? Do the teachers determine which strategies will best help each student? Do the teachers give formative feedback to each student? Do the teachers build in class time for the students to practice their new formative strategy?  Do the teachers re-assess the learning?

Tuttle's Stages of Formative Assessment

Do you use Web 2.0 tools to go beyond the monitoring of students to a full formative assessment?

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.

Backward/inverted Teaching and Formative Assessment

The Journal Recently ran an article on backward or inverted teaching where the instructor has the students watch a teaching video as homework and then in class they go over problems and the teacher does more one-on-one work with students.

As the students watch the 30 minute  instructional video, who is checking to see if they are comprehending  the video? Are there self-checks built into the video? What happens if a student gets lost at the beginning?  What happens if a student does not understand a major concept?  The students  have to wait until the class for which they will have to do homework.

Such backward teaching seems to go against the current formative assessment approach of constantly monitoring students and helping them to overcome the learning gaps that appear as the lesson develops.  According to formative assessment, students should be helped with their  learning gap as soon as it appears; the students are immediately diagnosed and given appropriate feedback to overcome the gap. The longer the time between the gap and the feedback, the less effective the feedback.

I think that backward teaching can be done well  if appropriate formative assessments are built in just after new concepts or ways of thinking are introduced in the video. Probably a video teacher does not want to go more than ten minutes without doing a check-in on the students.  The teacher might want to go over commonly made mistakes as he/she presents the lesson.  When students know they are “right”, they feel more confident about their learning. When they begin to have doubts, they learn less.

How do you use teaching videos/clips in your class?

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.

Check Lower Level Learning Immediately (Formative Assessment)

We all want our students to be learning at the higher levels of thinking.  However, they first have to learn  lower level information.  For example, Spanish students want to converse in the language but until they learn basic vocabulary and grammar such as the present tense; they cannot converse.  We can change the format of class so that after we have introduced the lower level learning and have them practice it enough to know whether they understand the concept, then we can have them practice the lower level learning at home.

If we have them use an online program that “drills” them, shows them the right answer, and shows them  how to get the right answer,  they can immediately know how well they are doing and be given the opportunity to improve.  They do not have to wait until the next day (or in terms of a college course five days or week) to find out if they can do this lower level thinking.  Since the teacher has put in the program   a full explanation of how to get the right answer, the students can overcome their learning gap (formative feedback aspect of formative assessment).  They can redo the program to verify that they can do this lower level activity well.  They feel successful.  They have practiced this learning in the safety of their homes.

Then, in class, the teacher  can move the students to higher levels from the lower level.  For example, the Spanish students can tell what activities they do that day, can describe the various activities of their family members, and ask others what they things they do during a day.

So how do you practice lower level learning so that students know immediately if they are right or wrong and if they wrong,  do they learn how to change their thinking to get right answers? How do you  use formative assessment to move your students forward in their learning?

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.

“Fake” Formative Asssessment by Companies

When I do formative assessment workshops, I always include a section on what formative assessment is not.

Many school districts are buying into systems that supposedly do formative assessment.  Usually these systems test students every 4-6 weeks and often  provide a list of what skills the students have and do not have.  The programs may provide “remedial” work to help the students.    How many schools district would tell their athletic coach to wait until 4-6 weeks  to assess  the strengths and areas for growth for each player?  Coaches want their players to improve each practice.  How many school districts would tell their teachers not to assess students until every 4-6 weeks?   Classroom teachers need to be the ones to assess and help their students on a daily or weekly basis.

How many schools would want their coach to say generic statements like “work harder at passing  the ball” without giving the players better strategies for  passing the ball?  Unfortunately many systems provide just vague feedback such as “Organize  ideas”.   These systems do not offer students a choice of strategies; they simply provide one way of learning the material or do not even provide a strategy. Many systems just drill  the students.

Unfortunately, much of what “sells” for formative assessment is in fact just summative testing.

I define formative assessment as ” based on the students’ present learning condition, providing strategies so  the students can immediately begin to  achieve the desired goal”.  The classroom teacher is the heart and soul of formative assessment. Formative assessment takes place as part of the normal  classroom. It happens constantly in the classroom.  The teacher always  focuses on what the students are learning and how to help them better learn.

Here’s an article that gives some additional information.   http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/11/10/12assess.h30.html

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.

Skill of Meeting Deadlines as 21st Century SKill

I recent had the opportunity to talk with several business people, mostly managers.  I asked them about what skills they look for in new employees. They mentioned the usual 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, and problem solving. One stated that a critical skill is that of timeliness or meeting deadlines.  She explained  that numerous young employees do not meet deadlines. They see these deadlines as the beginning of the deadline, not as the final date for the deadline.  The other business people added that they had fired new employees for not meeting critical deadlines.

I have noticed in many of my college students the attitude of  “if I get it  in before the end of the semester, it’s OK” even though there are fixed deadlines throughout the course and penalties for handing materials in late. My course is a cumulative course in which each unit builds on the previous one so that it is crucial that students do work in a timely fashion.

We can help prepare students for the 21st century by teaching them about meeting deadlines.

What is your class policy about deadlines?

 

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.

Formative Feedback Through Technology

Some ways to for teachers to give formative feedback as part of formative assessment  to students through technology. The feedback has to lead to the students’ direct and immediate improvement on the specific goal. Within the formative assessment process, students need “personalized” feedback which focus on their specific learning gaps.

– Orally with audio/screen capture programs

– Add in comments in digital word processed documents

– Refer to YouTube etc. video made by teacher, peers, or others

– Suggest a specific website that explains it in another way

– Provide an exemplar to re-examine from class website, wiki

– Develop “PowerPoint” quizzes that explain the wrong answers to understand the right ones.

You can view some other ideas at

http://formativeassessmenttechnology.pbworks.com

and add your own by joining the wiki at

https://formativeassessmenttechnology.pbworks.com

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.

Improve learning through a screencast program.

Some uses of a screencast/screen capture program such as Jing. I prefer the paid version ($14.99 a year).

* Create a mini- teaching lesson so that students can view it 24/7.

* Create a mini-teaching lesson that you will teach  more than once. Instead of  your having to say the same information for five classes such as explaining the fall of the Spanish empire, create a movie to show.  Save your voice.  In addition, you can observe the students as they watch the movies.

* Provide a video as homework. You can create short videos that prompt the students to think or do something about a topic before the next class.  Foreign languages teachers can provide a picture and have students practice answering the video questions about it.

* For a project, do a screencast of the instructions and assessment so students and parents can be sure of what is expected. For example, walk the student through the “comparing two works of literature” project.

* Create a screencast of some exemplars or model work so students can understand the high quality of learning expected. You can narrate what makes each work exemplary. A Social Studies teacher can tell  how a “history in our community” screencast represents several different historical time periods.

* Produce a formative feedback movie in which you suggest and show several ways to overcome a common learning gap. Students can view this as often as they want as they practice their  new strategy in the privacy of their own homes.

* Narrate or provide appropriate sound  over your PowerPoint so that you can emphasize certain points by changing your voice quality.  Simply record your voice as you go through the screencapture of the PowerPoint.

* Make a video in which you  narrate  a series of pictures.  A science teacher can narrate a walk through a bog to explain each part.

* Make a screencast of how to use a new program. For example, you show your students how to use the  new class wiki.

* Capture a short  first part of a show from a DVD, NetFlix, Hulu, etc , a middle part  and a near-the-end part  that are all on the same topic such as the  Mexican economy  so you can show all three together without having to search for the next part.

* Record some short  instructional movies for when you are out.  Your sub can show the movies and you’ll still be teaching the class the way you want it!

* Have students make their own Jing movie in which they peer teach.  Students can record themselves as they explain  a difficult concept. They can come in a few minutes early, record their planned out video, and show it in class. Also, Jing can be part of a learning station in the class where student groups  produce their peer teaching movie.

* Interview people in the community who use your subject area content  and show students that video. For example,  a builder talks about the various angles in building a house.

How have you used a screencast program in your class?

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.

Do we help students improve?

I recently talked with a student who had taken a college remedial writing course. Each week in the course she wrote an essay on a writing prompt such as “My weekend”.  Her instructor  plastered her paper with corrections such as “Tenses!” or “Watch your grammar”.  However, this student  did not understand what the exact  tense problem was or how to correct it.   Each week she repeated the same errors. Her instructor did not review whole class errors.   This student did not learn any new pattern or formula for writing  the essays. She only did one type of essay.  She learned how to write better by asking her  friends.

Do we really help our students to improve? Do we give them meaningful formative feedback that helps them improve? Or do we leave our students sinking in their own learning laps? Do we provide them with several strategies from which to select? For example, my formative assessment book on writing, Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, offers many different strategies for each phase of the writing process.  Formative assessment provides continual improvement and success for students.

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.

Improve FL Speaking Fluency With Formative Assessment

NYSAFLT  Conference Oct. 16, 2010

If we want students to be speakers of the language, then we have to let them speak more in the classroom.  Engage them in real language use.

Formative Assessment my definition: The process of helping students to immediately move forward from their present diagnosed learning to the expected learning.

Formative Assessment components:

Student does something in the language →

Is monitored →

Is diagnosed (determine present status and assess the gap between the present and expected learning; identify a strategy to improve) →

Is given formative feedback →

Has time for improvement →

Is re-assessed to show improvement →

Celebrates success

Formative assessment  create a culture of success, of constant improvement

Two Formative Assessment videos from the UK:

Secondary Assessment for Learning

Modern Foreign Languages Peer Assessment


Formative assessment advantages and concerns. You do not grade formative assessment or it becomes summative. It is critical that students be given a new strategy or a new way to think about the learning.

Success or Failure Grading?

Importance of Peer assessment. When peers assess peers, students can talk more in class and get more feedback.

Speaking Assessment: Identify the specific language function and level.

Student 1 speaks for a minute while Student 2 records number said. Student 2 reports back to Student 1 and gives additional suggestions. Student 1 practices the improvements.

Student 2 speaks on another topic  for a minute while Student 1 records number said. Student 1 reports back to Student 2 and gives additional suggestions. Student 2 practices the improvements.

Record the information on this baseline.

Students may need teacher given strategies if they do not show sufficient improvement from peer-to-peer help.  The  teacher has to have a large variety of strategies, each of which leads directly to the students’  being successful.

I have worked on 16 different speaking assessments and each one has about ten different strategies for the students.

Tuttle, H. G. (2009). Formative Assessment: Responding to Students. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Hopefully, my book, Improving Students Speaking Through Formative Assessment, will be out in late April. To be put on the mailing list, email me at htuttlebs@gmail.com

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.

Formative Assessment Class Culture

Formative assessment requires a specific culture in the classroom.

For example, I tell my students that my job is to help them constantly improve.

I remind them that in this formative assessment class, I am a coach.  I will look for what they are doing well but, more importantly, I will look for how they can improve. An athletic coach constantly watches his/her players and constantly gives suggestions for improvement.

In addition, I will only ask then to improve when they can be given a  new strategy or approach that will enable them to overcome their learning gap.

I let them know that when I call on them, I will give them feedback.  If they want to become better in the class, they will offer their answer no matter how wrong  they think their answer is. Once I hear their answer, I can help them to become better.  If they keep quiet, I cannot help them. My feedback will focus not on what they did wrong but on how to do it correctly.

I remind them that they will be constantly assessed and be constantly  given strategies. For example, in the pre-writing phase of their essays, there will be seven assessments. Each formative assessment helps ensure they are on a success track.

I tell them that we build on successes.  We do something well, then we build on that successful learning  to reach the next learning goal.  Students feel very different in a class where they know that the teacher and their fellow students are there to help them improve in their learning.

Finally, I inform them that they are expected to do well in the course since we build on and reward successes.

What is your class culture?

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

Reponding to Your Students

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

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

Dead or Alive Students?

Recently a fence between my neighbors and my house fell down. As I walked around the huge tree in the backyard near the downed fence, I noticed that the tree was rotten on the back side.  I called three tree specialists. Two said to cut it down. The third agreed it was rotten but then stated that the tree was still alive. It had healthy branches. He could trim it so that the rot would not cause the tree to come down. The tree could continue to live and grow.

I wonder how often we have  “cut down”   “rotten” students when they have failed tests,  not completed their homework, or not done in class work.   We may think, “They’ll never get it…They are always lost…They will fail… They are beyond help.”   However, if  we nurture them through formative assessment  they can overcome their “rotten” parts.   We can  use technology to provide additional resources for them that present the learning in a different manner so that they grow in their learning.

Do you view students as “dead wood” or as “thriving trees”? How does your classroom actions show this? Try formative assessment to help your students become successful learners.

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

What Did I Learn From Giving the Final? What do I Do Differently?

I recently gave my Spanish final. After correcting each part, I put the grades for each part onto the final sheet and totaled up the score to get their final exam score.  However, the process for me was far from done. I then opened a spreadsheet, created a column for each category of the test and a column of student names.  I then entered the students’ grades for each part of the final and had the computer calculated the class average and the percent of that average out of a perfect score such as (class average of 22.4 out of a perfect score of 25 for a 90%).  I found out that   my students achieved a class average of  85% for speaking, 90% for listening, 76% for reading,  and 77% for culture, and a 62% for writing.  I instantly thought of  what I could do differently next semester to help the students do better. I focused in on their writing which was their lowest score.  I have decided that each week that they will write at least five sentences. I will correct their sentences more frequently (at least once a week). I realized that I have to help them understand the critical difference between the preterite and the imperfect tense since most students mixed up the two tenses in the each tense specific writing on the final.   I also thought of several strategies to improve their reading such as writing more questions for them to answer about the book “conversations”; have them practice answering questions words in class so that they are sure of the type answer. For example, the Spanish question word,  Donde,  has to be answered with a place; and have them find similar words in the question and the answer.  My goal is to increase each  of these two lowest scores so that they both are in the 85% for the next time.   I realize that I have to give my students different strategies than I gave this semester’s students. I will give formative assessments frequently to measure their growth. I look forward to the challenge and their success.

So what does your final tell you about the different strategies you might need to give your students of next year?

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.

Reponding to Your Students

Really Effective Technology or Not?

This semester I decided to try something different in my writing class.  After giving them a pre-assessment (writing an in-class essay), I determined that this  class was at the same level as last semester’s students.  My change for this semester was that  I taught the whole semester without using a single PowerPoint.

In all the previous semesters, I have had a PowerPoint presentation  each night that had illustrations,  certain words in different colors,  many visuals, etc.   I had noticed that my night class often went to sleep when I turned down the lights and used the PowerPoint.  Even though I asked them many questions and did interactive things, the class seemed lulled.  This semester it was just me and the whiteboard with the lights on.  I did have different colored markers. I did full up the board and erase it several times during the class.   I felt that I had more eye contact (could see their reactions better)  and more interactivity with the students (could show other  strategies when they encountered a problem)  rather than being the button-pusher for the next PowerPoint Slide.

The informal results  based on this semester’s last in-class essay  compared to the previous semester’s was that this semester’s students did just as well (really slightly better)  than last semester’s students.  The lack of PowerPoint did not negatively impact the students; in fact, they did better without it.  Teacher methodology (focusing on students’ present learning status)  matters more than technology!

How do you know if technology is a truly effective tool in your class?

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.

Reponding to Your Students

Moving Away from Finals to Final Improvements

I do not give finals.  I do give students an  opportunity to show me how they have improved in the course. They show that the formative assessment done on their work leads to greater achievement.

For example, in my English Composition and Research college course, students select two essays that they have written and received three formative feedback on, identify how they will make the improvements on an essay improvement sheet,  and make the improvements in the essay. As an illustration, students receive three formative feedback on their essays that focus on the most critical areas for improvement such as their lack of details to prove the essay. They either receive an example or are referred to some examples.  On their essay improvement sheet, they copy the suggestions for change and then they  show how they will change  their previous sentences to include detailed examples.  They make these revisions to their paper.   When they hand in their “final” essays, they highlight in green all the changes that they made from the  previous version. They get graded on their formative  improvements based on the previous essay.    Their “final” essay grade replaces their original essay grade.

Such a “formative assessment final” drastically changes the usual concept of a final.

So what type final do you give?

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.

Reponding to Your Students

Opening Students’ Minds in Formative Assessment

I had the good fortune to present a full day  formative assessment workshop to a great group of teachers on Friday. They listened, asked questions and created their own formative assessment materials.

During the workshop, I stressed that after we have presented the information and students demonstrate that they do not “get it”, we need to either drastically paraphrase the information or give an entirely different strategy for learning it.  During the workshop, I used several metaphors

Students have a one channel TV.  Although they have the option of many different stations, they stick to one only. When they do not get any reception on that one channel, they do not switch to another way. We have the responsibility to show them how to use the other stations so that they can move forward in their formative assessment.

Students get stuck in a rut when they cannot understand what we present. That rut prevents them from moving forward. We have to help them get out of the rut by providing them with a new strategy for understanding the learning goal. That formative assessment strategy enables them to start back on their learning.

Some quotes about a closed mind or looking at a problem in only one way.

“If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”

“Our first problem is not to learn but to unlearn, to clear out some of the old assumptions (ways of thinking and doing).” G. Steinem

“If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.”  V Hill

“Half of being smart is knowing what you’re dumb at.”

“It is not a disgrace to start over, it is usually an opportunity.”

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” F Zappa

“A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood”  Chinese Proverb

“A closed mind is a good thing to lose.”

How do you open your students’ minds so that they can learn the critical learning goals in your subject?

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.

Reponding to Your Students

Do We Know the Students’ Exact Progress in the Learning Standards At Any Moment?

Every teacher should know at any given moment where their students stand in regard to state standards, state assessments, or even the “final”. We need to focus on our students’ learning progress and how we can help the students to improve from where they are to where we expect them to be. Waiting until the end of the year for students to take a pre-state assessment and then cramming down not-learned concepts make no sense.

When we start with the end in mind (Covey and Understanding by Design), we identify the precise learning we expect of the students and we create assessments that measure not only the end product but the many steps in their progress toward the learning. These mini-formative assessments help us to know at any moment where our students stand in terms of the end assessment. By using a technology as simple as a spreadsheet, teachers can keep track of their students’ formative assessments, give students new strategies to use to be successful, and, after much practice, re-assess the students to see growth.  Student learning is about continual growth toward the end learning.  If we want students to achieve the end learning goal, we need to constantly assess their progress and provide new strategies for success.

Do you know where your students’ exact progress right now in your course toward the state standard or assessment?

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

Assess students’ academic learning, not Web 2.0 technology

I thought that we have moved beyond focusing on the technology to focusing on student academic learning.  I thought that back in the 90s.  However, I find evidence even today that technology still has become the true focus rather than student academic learning.  Whenever I look at the rubrics for an Web 2.0 tool, I see that the vast majority of rubric items focus on the “mechanics” of the technology. They do not focus  on the students’  academic learning.

My writing teachers never graded me on the mechanics of a pencil. They wanted to see if I could write something worthwhile. As I went to college, no one graded me on the mechanics of word processing; they did grade me on how I could demonstrate my content learning. Yes, I do agree that we need basic word processing skills  but those technology skills must not be confused with academic learning.

What new academic skills are students learning through Web 2.0 tools?  What new ways of thinking are they developing and how do they demonstrate those ways of thinking?  Does each Web 2.0 tool add a different dimension of learning?

Let’s demystify Web 2.0 learning by focusing on student academic learning, not on the technology!

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

Assessing Learning with Web 2.0: Social Bookmarking

I was talking to  teacher who was so proud of the social bookmarking his students had done. They had collected over 60 links about the topic they were studying. I asked him if they had agreed on what tags they were going to use; he said that they used whatever tag they wanted.  Next,  I asked him what categories they had divided the links into; he said that the 60+ links were neatly organized in one long list.  Then, I asked how much they had annotated (explained about the importance of each link); he proudly said that they listed the title of  each website. Finally, I inquired how they students used these bookmarks;  he mentioned that the activity was to collect them.  He was so excited about using the Web 2.0 tool of Social Bookmarking.

In my opinion, he wasted his students’ time. The students did not  learn about the academic topic; they learned how to collect information.  They did not know the topic in a deeper or more comprehensive nature  anymore than when  they started their social bookmarking.

Even if each student found two links about the learning topic  and compared and contrasted the information  on those two links, they would have learned so much more in a very little time.

How do you use social bookmarking?

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

Show your students their success

When students receive a “C” on an assignment and then an “B” on the next, they know that their grade went up but they do not usually know why. And they probably do not know what new skill or strategy they need to move up to an “A”.

An alternative approach is to use a learning goal based checklist so that students can see the subgoals that they have mastered as a concrete measure of their success. Likewise, they see the subgoals that they have yet to master.

For example, in English, a rubric can  be turned into a checklist such as this one for an introductory paragraph

___ Has an attention getter such as a quotation, question, startling statistic, or an anecdote

___ Bridges to the thesis (Makes a connection between the “bigger” attention getter down to the level of the thesis)

___ States the thesis (For a contrast paper,  includes the two items to be contrasted and uses a contrast word or phrase)

The teacher marks each item  with a plus (proficient)   or a minus (working on).  Students can easily see what they have been successful on and what they need to improve. Students or peers can assess each others’ work with these easily defined assessment items.

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

Your Class Calendar and Formative Assessment

Most teachers have class calendars or schedules.  I’m wondering how much formative assessment is mentioned.

I guess that middle and high school teachers formatively assess (diagnosis a student gap, give a specific strategy to overcome that strategy and re-assess for success) less than  10% of the assessment time and  do summative assessments 90% or more.

How different it would be if teachers put formative assessment in their class schedule to show that formative assessment was a regular part of learning.

An English teacher may have for the writing section of class (Pre-write topic for contrast paper and have teacher, peer or self assessment of topic, narrowed topic, thesis, brainstorm, categories of proof,  graphic organizer or other organizer).

A science teacher may have the students write  a lab report draft (Teacher, peer or self assessment of lab report essential parts via a check-list;  compare findings with other students’ reports and report differences)

When students see such assessments, they know that their work will be reviewed, strengths and gaps will be identified, and they will be given precise strategies to overcome their gap and show improvement. They see that the class will help them move forward instead of just receiving a summative  assessment of a  “D”.

Try changing your class calendar to include formative assessments and see the difference in student learning.

Harry Grover Tuttle's Two Formative Assessment Books

Change to Assessment from Grading

Very often teachers use the terms grading and assessment interchangeable. However, they are very different.

When we grade, we give a “final” score to something such as a B and an 83. Usually when students receive a grade, they know that learning that material is over; they do not have to think about improving on materials in the unit. Also, they often receive one grade on their work during the unit.  Likewise, students will likely receive a holistic grade, one grade for all the various parts of the whole work. Grades stop the learning.

On the other hand, in assessment, particularly formative assessment, students do not receive a grade on their work; they do receive a few critical suggestions for improvement. Students know that they will use  this  formative feedback to improve. In addition, they know that they will receive many assessments on this topic.  Furthermore, if  teachers use a rubric, the teacher uses an analytic rubric where the students receive indicators for many major components for their strengths and specific comments on how to  bridge the learning gap.  Formative assessment moves the student forward in the learning.

Can a student receive just assessment up to the final grade? Yes.  I teach courses in which the students are assessed every class. They do not receive a grade each class. Do they know how they doing in their learning-both their strengths and their learning gaps. Yes! Do they constantly improve throughout the course? Yes.

Try assessing instead of grading to see how much more beneficial it is to the students and to you!

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

Formative Assessment and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment by Harry Grover TuttleFormative Assessment and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment by Harry Grover Tuttle

My book. Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment will be available from Eye-on-Education in the Fall.


RSS Education with Technology

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