mccoyderek

Strategies for Coaching Teachers to Use Formative Assessment Tools

Formative assessments are an essential part of instructional design.Did my students learn anything? Ways to find out.

Formative assessments give teachers a glance at the level of understanding students have of a particular topic being taught. We like to focus on the value formative assessments bring in determining if something needs to be retaught, taught in a different way or if we can accelerate on an upcoming. These are some valuable teaching points that have to be incorporated into lessons and planned regularly to make an impact on learning. The reason we are in schools is to help kids learn and planning for these regular glimpses helps us know if we are reaching kids.

Vicki Davis, @coolcatteacher, wrote a great post ‘5 Fantastic, Fast Formative Assessment Tools.” She succinctly captures the true purpose and need for formative assessments – ‘Formative assessment is done as students are learning. Summative assessment is at the end.

I recently sat in on a planning session with some teachers and we had a great discussion about the upcoming activities they were developing for students. In the natural flow of the conversation, a teacher mentioned that she would do ‘some kind of assessment’ one day to see if they understood. Our instructional coach asked a couple of great extending questions to get this teacher to not just give this a cursory thought to assessing but to really think about the teaching that had been done and what we wanted the learning to look like – these would help her in creating a good formative assessment.  The assessment we talked about that day was some verbal cues she would ask the group,

I encourage you to read Vicki’s post! Its a great resource that goes into good descriptive detail about some of the great digital tools out there we can use for getting a picture of the learning in the room. Some of these tools are some of my favorites to use with staff as we conduct meetings and trainings.

Getting teachers to understand the value of formative assessments is step one, seeing them used in classrooms is the critical next step. There are a numerous resources on formative assessments on the web and you can have these talks with your teachers and staff. But there is particular value in using digital tools.

First, these digital tools help with student engagement. Students are anxious to get their hands on devices and tools to showcase learning and understanding. Its a great way to get active. Second, you ensure responses from all students when you use digital tools. If you are still having kids raise their hands to answer questions or you are simply calling on students you are guaranteeing non-responses from some students in your room.  Third, free is great! The tools highlighted here are free for teachers and even have apps for different mobile devices.

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Plickers in use in our 8th Social Studies class!

In the end, its more important to use a formative assessment than focus on whether or not its digital, paper, verbal or another method. We know that we have to use formative assessments but which ones? I believe in the power of these digital tools because because addition the reasons listed above, they also give teachers quick, easy to read data they can use for planning. With the devices in our school and our BYOD policy, we can ensure that if teachers want to use digital tools for formative assessment, they can.

Part of my duty is to support teachers who want and need to use these digital tools, even encourage them to use them if its outside their comfort zone. Below, I’ve captured some questions and thoughts that may be helpful if you are having those conversations:

  • What are you looking to accomplish?
  • What information do you need to capture?
  • Do you plan on using the data capture for a grade?
  • Do you need the feedback for immediate in class use or will you collect it to reflect on it for later use?
  • What devices are available to you? What devices will you use? Does everyone have a device or need one?
  • Will you use your data capture to look at individual performance or class performance?
  • How long will you allot to this?

These digital tools are great resources in helping teachers get critical information they need to guide instructional planning. Our talks as curriculum leaders and digital leaders has to expand to include what these tools have offer above and beyond traditional means of collecting information.

My First Edcamp – #edcampelon

customLogoSaturday 4.19 was the first day of my spring break. While that normally means testing the limit on the snooze button on cell, this day turned out to be phenomenal day of learning, connecting, sharing and growing.

For the past couple of months, I’ve had the fortunate experience to have been one of the organizers for @edcampelon. I’ve known several of the other organizers from my learning network here in NC and got to know the others through this planning venture. From beginning to now [we’re not at the end yet] this has been one of the most impactful learning experiences I’ve taken part in.

[Edcamps are local unconferences that capitalize on informal conversations and presentations to drive learning and growing for educators. Their grassroots approach and shift away from the formal, prescripted conferences.]

Personalized Learning At Its Best


BllprBwIMAA83cE These are greats shot of our initial efforts in building the board! There was a lot of work that went into making sure that all the voices in audience were heard. We started capturing ideas and topics on Twitter days before and began the visualization piece on the Padlet board you see on the right.

1397998743562Giving attendees the direct hand in creating the topics is a big part in creating a personalized learning experience. Not all attendees are as vocal/visible/knowledgeable of the edcamp process as some of the attendees in these pictures [no surprise there @plugusin @web20classroom] but we kept the building conversation active and as engaging as possible. Ensuring voices are a heard is a priority.

Great Learning and Sharing!

The sessions were phenomenal! To be honest, I was like a kid in a candy story during the first hour popping in and out of several conversations, joining in conversations and making connections.

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Personalized learning! Shifted professional development!

The Future of Professional Development

We ended the day with an incredible smackdown! Lots of people shared some great tools that are making a difference in their classroom. All tools are worth mention. Genius design facilitated the capture of all the tools on this link. This innovation is a testament to the genius of the group. Rob Breyer @rbreyer and Dayson Pasion @MrPasion were the gifts behind the app used for the event as well as the social media including the website, Twitter and Facebook account. This link leads to the site. From here you can access all the other media.

Here is why we need to change how we look at pd and shift to personalized experiences like edcamps:

  • Awesome lunch breakfast and lunch!
  • 1397998951381Connecting face to face with PLN members!
  • Embracing that learning can look leads to next level growing!
  • Embedding collaborative resources to capture thoughts and notes from sessions/gatherings and being able to reflect back to them is a major part of this shifted learning experience [Thnx @rbreyer51 and @MrPasion]
  • Organization is critical! Thanks to all who were involved and drove it forward! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the journey: Steven Weber, Rob Breyer, Sarah Henchey, Jeff Carpenter, Faith Howell, Melissa Nixon, Dayson Pasion
  • Sponsors are critical! They enable teachers to focus on learning, sharing and growing! Thanks NCPDK, Elon University, Discovery Ed, Edmentum, Yapp [link to the sponsors here]
  • Learning is NOT over! We are planning a follow up chat to the edcamp! There was so much follow up chatter, we had to create another forum for everyone to post some follow up thoughts.

This was my first edcamp experience but it will not be my last. I can’t wait to attend another edcamp as a participant and if I’m fortunate enough, I will happy to serve as another organizer.

Please add your thoughts below! I would love to hear from you on your takeaways and thoughts of this event.

 

 

Instructional Support Days

   I‘m proud of the creativity my administrative team has demonstrated with devising and implementing game changing strategies that will go a long way in supporting the teaching and learning in our school. I have a great core group of educators who care about our school and community – its exciting to see how their energy matches their creativity.

One strategy that we have been developing is our Instructional Support Days. Our ISDs are days the administrators and/or coaches lead pd on different topics identified as needs for our school. We use several resources to gather information and determine what our pd needs are: informal walk thru data, information capture activities at the end of collaborative planning, even conversations we have with teachers. We then get together to determine the schedule of training/sharing and who will deliver.

There is a great deal of flexibility in our ISDs. We don’t always have each coach facilitating a session and the topics vary a great deal. For example, we had coaches leading sessions on word walls and a specific instructional best practice. The next ISD, all three tag-teamed an online pd session on formative assessments.

We are leaving this as an open forum for training. In a couple of weeks, I plan on leading a session on building up a PLN. We have had a teacher lead a share session on WebQuests. This was exciting to see because as we planned this, we realized this was an opportunity to empower our teachers and give them an opportunity to show some internal leadership and we can build our own training efficacy.

 I‘m looking forward to seeing this develop. This is one strategy that, as it continues to develop, will pay off exponentially!

Changing How We Look at & Use Data – Not Waiting on an Autopsy

Friday was a great day of collaboration and pd at West Middle School!! April Daywalt, our Instructional Facilitator [interviewed in the video below] led group instructional discussions during planning periods on using Data Connections, a program the district has subscribed to.


I love the Shift Thinking behind this training! Before Friday, West MS has only used this program during our quarterly benchmark testing. The problem with this approach is it only gave us 3 opportunities to planned reteaching, acceleration and reflection. For student achievement, we cant afford to wait until the end to look at and plan with important student data! Opening up this program, expanding training to every teacher and having people on board who can help with answer questions will go a long way in making this part of our planning, teaching and learning culture.


Below are two interviews about training implementation and purpose, the second is Daywalt:

I love the EQ in the back! Thanks to all the teachers for the being active participants and planning on incorporating this into their practice and thanks to April for her shift training!