Formative Assessment: Monitoring YOUR Classroom Canvas with The Formative Five

  • Formative Assessment: Monitoring YOUR Classroom Canvas with The Formative Five. YOU Can Do This!

    By Francis (Skip) Fennell, Beth McCord Kobett, & Jon Wray
    March 30, 2017

    The Elementary Mathematics Specialists and Teacher Leaders Project endeavors to both identify and address challenges and concerns expressed by the mathematics specialists/instructional leaders and classroom teachers with whom we work, both regionally and nationally. One of those challenges that has been regularly expressed is related to assessment. What we have heard are comments, like the following:

    “I never really thought much about assessment other than the tests I would create and use or the end-of-year standardized required tests we used.”
    5th grade teacher


    Formative assessment is so talked about, but it seems mysterious to me.”
    kindergarten teacher


    “I have enough trouble with thinking about and planning for my teaching, how does my principal expect me to involve assessment too - beyond our unit and end-of-year required tests?”
    7th grade teacher

    Such comments seemed to not only identify a need, but perhaps more importantly, be clearly seeking a functional understanding of the role of assessment generally, but, in particular, how formative assessment could and should impact classroom instruction.

    Our efforts for the past 3+ years have been focused on addressing the important role of formative assessment and its everyday classroom connection to planning and instruction. Our analysis of formative assessment revealed, as others have noted, that we actually do know a lot about formative assessment and one of the things we know is that it can and does make a difference. We also found that when we asked teachers and mathematics specialists/leaders about formative assessment we received many different responses and definitions. Additionally, far too many of our respondents indicated that assessment, to them, was a “special moment” often defined by others, as in end-of-year external assessments, rather than regularly connected to their planning and teaching. We also recognized an overload of publications, actual published formative assessments, worksheets, and services advertised as the formative assessment “fix” for the classroom or school level.

    The Formative 5 represents a distillation and validation of classroom-based formative assessment techniques that teachers can use on a regular basis. As our presentation will note, we think of The Formative 5 techniques (Observations, Interviews, "Show Me", Hinge Questions, and Exit Tasks) as a palette of five “colors” that teachers use to address the planning and related instructional needs of their “classroom canvas” every single day. It continues to gratify us to hear about and actually see how such deliberate everyday connections between planning, instruction, and assessment truly impacts and influences student learning and empowers teachers. This session will truly engage you in not only considering The Formative 5, but in actually preparing to use these techniques in your classroom. You can do this! Your use of The Formative 5 will make a difference.

    Be sure not to miss Skip, Beth, and Jon’s session at the 2017 NCTM Annual Meeting in San Antonio:

    Formative Assessment: Monitoring YOUR Classroom Canvas with The Formative Five. YOU Can Do This!
    April 6, 2017 | 9:30–10:30 a.m. in Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Hemisfair 1
    Participants will be engaged in the use of a pallet of classroom based formative assessment techniques. The Formative Five are used to guide and monitor planning and teaching. Everyday use of observations, interviews, show me, hinge questions, and exit tasks can make a difference. See how mathematics leaders have begun to use these techniques.

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