With the school year underway I felt it best to wait for a bit to post about some of the new things going on in my classroom. Every year I try and focus on two specific areas that I want to grow in. This year I have narrowed it down to formative assessments and student engagement. I know that these are "buzz words" in education, but for me they truly mean so much more. Formative assessments are ways that you assess your students without a formal pencil and paper exam. It could be in the form of whole group, small group, or individual notes of students. I have done well in whole group formative assessments, but not so much in the other two areas. I think that students are more apt to be honest about where they are when you set the tone and environment of your classroom to be a comfortable one for students to express where they are and what they need help in without being made fun of or to feel that they are inadequate in any way. It is important for not only teachers to be able to assess where students are in the content and what they need, but for students to be aware of where they are and what they need also.
A few formative assessments that I am trying this year are Fist to 3 (my favorite) Students put up a fist (I don't understand or get this at all) 1 (I need some teacher help), 2 (working with a partner could help me), and 3 (I can help another student).
My other favorite is to make rectangular shaped cards from red, yellow, and green construction paper. When I am finished teaching a lesson, I ask students to place their cards on their desk to let me know when they need my assistance. Red means of course for me to stop and help, yellow means for me to check on them in a few, and green means they are good to go. I make it my point to vary who I see first so that students do not feel singled out. When I finish meeting with students I have them to try a problem on their own and to move or keep their card the same afterwards. It’s rewarding to glance over and see a student’s smile at being able to move from red to yellow or yellow to green. For those that stay the same be it red or yellow, I make sure to circle back with them to see what more they need help in.
The final method of formative assessment for my students comes in a basic form of sticky notes and a pen. I simply write notes while students are working, rather with a partner, in a group, or individually. The notes will vary from what they are doing well on, something that they are not doing so well on on or something that needs clarifying. I look back at the notes at the end of the day or between classes to how I can best help all of my students.
What are you favorite methods of formative assessments with your students? Drop a line in the comment section below.