Improving Formative Assessment – Learning How to Surf
This past week, members of the Elk Grove and Sanger teams participated in the site visit consultancy hosted by Eric and his team in Oceanside. Our goal with this visit was to see a High Leverage Team Action (HLTA) in place and to investigate the possibility of implementing a version of Embedded Days in our districts. We participated with some of Oceanside’s eighth grade math teachers, with Eric facilitating the training. He led us through the formative assessment cycle--observing, analyzing, planning, and executing throughout the day.
We were reminded about the Popham principle and that when the formative assessment process is well-implemented in the classroom, it can essentially double the speed of student learning. The formative assessment cycle is like surfing. The mathematical task that we were adjusting for students was the surfboard, or the tool, but that was only a part of the process. Our “surfing” consisted of implementing progressive steps, working with the group to familiarize ourselves with the content, analyzing and classifying student work, presenting and observing class discussions, debriefing and classifying student responses, and refining the teaching/learning process.
The structure of the embedded day allowed us to work together as a team to refine the formative assessment cycle. We paddled out to the precise location, selected the right waves, chose the right moments to catch those waves, stood up, rode our wave in, came back together and tried the process again. At the end of the day we became better “surfers” (and better teachers).
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