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Tufts OpenCourseware
Author: Fulcrum Institute Development Team

I've Made the Judgment, What Now? (~2.5 hrs.)

A. Snapshots

In Session 6, you "visited" Ms. C's class as her students were studying insulation and identified opportunities for assessment. As you discovered, there were multiple points where Ms. C had access to evidence that could tell her what her students were or were not understanding. You imagined what she might learn and how she might alter her plans for instruction based on what she learned.

Take a look at snapshots of 3 more classrooms: Ms. P's Investigating Acids and Bases, Mr. H's Buoyancy Challenge, and Ms. T's Investigating Heat Transfer.

Take time to jot down answers to these questions for each snapshot:

  • When is the formative assessment "moment" in this snapshot?
  • What evidence or information was collected? Who collected it? How does the information align with the goal and indicate students' progress toward the goal?
  • Who used the information and how was it used? Was it used to make instructional decisions?
  • How does this example map onto the formative assessment cycle?

Now, look at your own 3 formative assessment examples you documented in Taking Stock (introduced in Session 6). Choose one of them and, using the snapshots you've just studied, draft a snapshot of formative assessment in your classroom. Optional: write up your snapshot and attach it to your By Tuesday post.

Deciding appropriate next steps

"My class is really confused, I hate to go on to something new but I don't know what to do next."

"I follow the steps in the Teachers Guide and use the questions pretty much verbatim. The guide doesn't help me when I become aware that my students don't understand."

"All but three or four of my students are ready to go ahead."

A key point in the formative assessment cycle is the moment when we have to decide how to proceed based on what we know about the progress of learning. In fact, there are many choices, and it's no surprise if we feel stymied by an array of options. As Wynne Harlen points out:

"We have argued that knowing what children's ideas are is essential to helping their learning, but it does not necessarily indicate what to do in specific case. How to help children take forward their ideas depends on particular circumstances and on what the ideas are. It is not often possible to prescribe in advance specific actions that will be effective. Therefore a teacher may have to decide this on the spot, drawing on a 'tool box' of strategies." (Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 5-12, Page 151.)

Harlen groups strategies for moving learning forward into four broad categories. To learn more, read Harlen, Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 5-12, Chapter 11, Helping the development of scientific ideas.

4 Response Strategies for helping children move their learning forward
  • Extending children's experience.
  • Helping children to test their ideas. This includes linking together small ideas related to specific instances to make bigger ones
  • Providing access to alternative ideas. These will come from a range of sources, including other children and the teacher; taking them on board may involve 'scaffolding'
  • Promoting communication, dialogue and reflection. This involves the role of language in the development of shared understandings.

Snapshots: Decide which type of response strategy you would say Ms. P, Mr. H, and Ms. T used.

Taking Stock: Look at the 3 examples of assessment from your classroom. Can you place your responses into one of Harlen's categories of response strategies?

C. Adjusting or modifying the lesson

For each snapshot you worked with in Part A, including your own, which of the four types of response strategies did the teacher chose to help students take the next step in learning?

Look through your Taking Stock examples. How often did you change your teaching plans based on the formative assessment data you collected? If you did not modify a lesson in response to the data, take time now to consider what you might have done.

Reflect (~1.5 hrs.)

Take time to reflect on your assessment practices - where they are now and what do you hope to continue working on? Use the Formative Assessment Scales as a self-assessment tool.

Based on your self-assessment and experience Taking Stock, set one or two goals for improving the use of formative assessment in your teaching.

Write 1-2 paragraphs that

  • Describe your goal(s)
  • Explain how working with classroom snapshots, Taking Stock, and using the self-assessment tool influenced your choice of goals
  • Describe how you plan to go about reaching your goal(s).

Post the paragraph(s) in the  Forum by Wednesday. Please post in the body of the message - not as an attachment.

Wrapping Up Heat and Temperature

It's been 13 weeks since you started exploring temperature changes in your kitchen. We hope your course experiences are leaving you with new understanding, new questions, and new confidence as you think about heat and temperature, whether you're cooking dinner, insulating your home, or contemplating the global climate.

Thank you for joining us on the journey and for supporting each others learning.