Two ways I try not to suck at formative assessment

This might end up being the content of a teachmeet prez in future, so bear with me if it’s a little scattershot

Formative assessment is hard. It’s probably up there with behaviour management, teaching a topic for the first time and having a life as one of the hardest things to do. Many people, very clever people, say its one of the most important things we can do though.

So maybe we should try hard to get it right. so here’s two ways I try to suck less at it.

Exit slips.

Exit slips are cool. SLT love them. Teachers love them. OFSTED probably love them too, but they aren’t allowed to tell us that. We all love them. I used them a lot for a while. It was great, I could sit down and confidently congratulate myself that all these students knew how to differentiate, or multiply by decimals or whatever my lesson had been on. Smashing stuff. And then a few weeks later they’d sit an assessment and get it wrong. Sometimes a bit wrong, sometimes REALLY wrong. Heartbreaking. It took me a while to understand what was going on. See I saw these exit slips as this:

exit 1

When really what they were telling me is something a bit closer to this:


Now this might be obvious. It probably is. But it took posts like this from David Didau, or this from Dylan Wiliam, and carefully re-reading his excellent book Embedding Formative Assessment. And hundreds of other little learning steps to put it together.

So now when I down and review exit slips I confidently stack up and push aside all those which are correct and use those that got it wrong to guide how I think about the class.

I wish he was there when I write Hinge Questions

src: Banthapedia

Hinge Questions.

In case it wasn’t clear from the motley collection of posts on this I’ve thrown together, I freakin’ love Hinge Questions. But they kind of fall into the formative assessment trap that exit slips do.

Student’s getting it right tells you much less than when they get it wrong. Which is why I find they take so long to write. I want to get the closest possible thing to semi-density as I can so I can make the best possible guess at what the student was thinking when they got the wrong answer.

src: Analyzing diagnostic items: What makes a student response interpretable?

src: Analyzing diagnostic items:
What makes a student response interpretable?

Which is why they are so hard, why they take so much time and why we often see the reverse – where we are only interested in the correct answer, and we collect that data and deal with those that got it wrong as one group.

This entry was posted in Assessment, Classroom, General Maths Thoughts, Pedagogy, Something to work on. Bookmark the permalink.

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