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Formative Fiesta

Formative Assessment is a deliberate process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides actionable feedback used to adjust ongoing teaching and learning strategies to improve students’ attainment of curricular learning targets/goals

We believe that formative assessment is one of the most powerful tools we can use to enhance learning and engage students in the learning process. The best educators use a variety of formative assessment techniques and tools to help everyone in the classroom gauge essential understandings.  The best formative assessments also help drive the learning experience for both teachers and students.

Favorite Formative Resources and Strategies

This week, I am excited to be co-authoring this post with my BFF and EdTech partner-in-crime, Steve Wick. He is the brains behind this awesome Formative Fiesta concept, which I believe took our Cafe Connect to the next level. Whenever I have a formative assessment question, Steve is my guy. He has awesome resources and has presented on the topic numerous times at conferences around the area. Check out his blog, Know Your Why!, for awesome instructional insights and information to help transform your classroom into a student-centered learning environment.

We are in our second year of 1 to 1 with Chromebooks, and we have been amazed by the incredible formative assessments we’ve witnessed as teachers have enhanced and transformed their instructional practices. Teachers are facilitating and our students are collaborating, communicating, creating, and thinking critically as part of the learning process on a daily basis.

We believe that one of the most rewarding professional development activities is when teachers find time to talk to each other. Powerful things can happen when educators from different departments have time to sit and talk to each other about teaching and learning. With this in mind, our second CAFE Connect was born with a focus on formative assessment.
Steve and I enjoyed two days of questions, classroom stories, and educators exploring resources to support engagement. We even created some Neuqua Trivia Challenges using six different digital formative tools to engage staff on the student side of some of our favorite tools. Other than this, there were no formal presentations, just teachers talking to teachers. It was awesome.

Together, here are some of our  reflections on this collaborative experience:
  • Teachers are using the tools and techniques at all points in the learning process. We talked about formative assessment as a pre-learning tool, as a checkpoint during learning experiences, and as "reviews" near the end of an activity or unit. 
  • Teachers all have favorite tools, but they also realize that using a single tool all the time can have a negative impact on student engagement. 
  • Teachers are becoming more comfortable taking risks in the classroom and trying new resources to help engage, motivate, assess, and challenge our students. 
  • Teachers appreciate assessment tools that offer a way to provide answer feedback to students. Google Forms, Socrative, and Quizalise are a few examples of resources that offer this option.
  • While we know our students enjoy competitive assessments, our teachers report that at times, they can be more of a distraction. As stated earlier, the key to success with utilizing assessment tools is variety, and this is no different when it comes to game-based learning; they can't be used all the time and still be as effective. 
  • The ability to record student voices has been a huge benefit for many of our teachers and students. Resources like Flipgrid, Adobe Spark Video, and Screencastify have made a huge difference in our World Language classes. They have also become a great tool for student reflection in quite a few of our classrooms. There is something about a student needing to verbally reflect that is pretty powerful. 
Bottom line...we work at a great place with staff who always have the students' best interests in mind. #whatsup 

Learn more about our favorite formative assessment resources and strategies on our Formative Assessment Resource PD Site. If you have a favorite formative tool or strategy, please consider sharing in our collaborative Formative Assessment Padlet.