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Formative Assessment in the 21st Century classroom

I am creating this blog within this wiki to use as a discussion of what I am expecting to accomplish in my classroom with formative assessments. I feel that I have always use formative assessments, but not the way they should be done. I used them as quick comments as I walk around looking at students work. It did fit the definition of analysing student work giving feedback and non-graded. However, it fell far short of what formative assessments should be. The class I am taking for my master’s degree has opened my eyes on what formative assessments should be.

First, I will be choosing about 4 types of formative assessments that I will be using during the school year consistently throughout the year. I will document these assessments and the follow-up that I have done. I will then document if I see better understanding than I have in the past.

The first type of formative assessment that I will be using is a weekly reflection topic. On Monday, I will post a week's reflection topic on the board. I will have this up so the students will know what I am going to ask. They will be thinking about this all week. I will collect these on Friday and hopefully comment and return on Monday. My comments have to be supportive as well as informative. The students have to know that this is a teaching tool and not just another boring task that they have to complete. I want the students to feel that they can be honest with this and that they will learn from the task. I would like them to be creative with it. I will be giving them time in class to create their reflection on Friday's. I feel that this is important enough for me to take class time for them to complete.

The second type of formative assessment that I will be using is lesson checks. Our textbook has check-up's written into the material at regular intervals. I will be using these as formative assessments. I will give the students time in class to complete these check-ups and then allow them to learn from these. These check-up's are questions that ask the students to complete tasks aligned with the topic being taught. If I find that a significant number of students are missing some key concepts, I can go back and reteach or I can work at a table group to help specific students. This will allow me to differentiate the instruction to fit the learners needs.

The third type of assessment will be the student’s notebook. I have each student in my classes keep a notebook that has all their notes in it from each day’s lessons. They also put in their homework and any other handouts or graphs or producible that they may create in their groups. I have them put the date at the beginning of each class. The idea is that their notebook is their reference book. They can look chronologically at each thing we may have done in class. They can see examples of similar problems when they are working on homework or just studying for a test. This year, I hope to have a sit-down conference with each student at least once during each unit about their notebook. I will have them come to me during one of their group problem solving events and we will discuss their notebook in detail. I feel each student can learn much from this and be involved with their notebook grade. This should motivate some of them to keep better notebooks and to bring them to class each day. Their notebook grade will not come from the correctness of the material in their notebook, but the organization of the notebook.

The forth type of formative assessment that I will try to make happen this year is through some type of 21st century web 2.0 technology. We are using the new Pearson home base student information software this year. It includes a grading system and parent information system. Each parent and student has access to this software if they have access to computers in general. I hope to have a WIKI or blog available for the students and parents to communicate to me through. I have to be careful with this so as to monitor discussion. This may come from my website at school. I can filter it and approve everything that’s being posted. I can post discussion questions on the blog for students to comment on. I can then through monitoring the site, give feedback to their discussions. This might be a fun way to get to know the students.

This class I am taking has opened my eyes to the tremendous power of using formative assessments for learning and summative assessments of learning. I feel that by using these effectively, students should feel the summative assessments are just a formality. They should all feel that they have accomplished the learning goal sufficiently to do well on the summative tests. It should not mater it if the summative assessments come from me, the school, the county, the state, or the nation. The students should feel comfortable with the common core standards we are teaching.

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