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8 Useful Links That Make Formative Assessment Easy

An interesting discussion is happening on LinkedIn. Pablo Garcia, entrepreneur, engineer and educator, starts the topic with this question: Formative Assesment: Why don’t we all use it?

One answer is another question: Don’t all teachers use it?

Another answer: Most teachers do use formative assessments on a daily basis, but some may not know to call them formative because the jargon of education swaps out synonymous terms every 7 to 10 years.

A solution: Project Based Learning (PBL) structures provide for lessons that enable teachers to observe student learning while they are in the process of learning. This is formative assessment.

In the LinkedIn discussion, Pablo asserts that “one learns largely through observing behaviours on the fly.” Formative assessment helps teachers monitor the affects of their instruction on student learning in a similar way through observations and documentation. It provides rapid results to inform instruction, and teachers can alter techniques to fit student needs the next day instead of waiting for data analysis from the prior school year.

It’s real-time assessment of instructional effectiveness and academic achievement, and Project Based Learning is the perfect structure for it’s implementation.

Pablo also shares an important formative assessment of his own: “When I look at what teachers actually spend time doing, I also see far too much time spent in analysing and reporting.” Often teachers get pulled out of the classroom to do just that — analyze and report. It’s part of the test climate. In the classroom, however, formative assessments go on all the time. It’s a matter of using running records, or formalizing the process a little more — formal in the sense of having checklists, rubrics or student work that shows evidence of learning, and documentation that relates. Not every time, of course, but at least once or twice per lesson such as pre- and post-lesson assessments with notes on the process.

It is the issue of time in planning, and it is unbelievably disconcerting how much teachers are taken away from planning and class time to go over information that correlates with what they already know.

There is a misconception that formative assessments have to be formal and paperwork intensive. Formative assessment relies a lot on intuition, and teachers need the time in teaching —  in the classroom — to enable the observation process to work well. If teachers are to use more formative type assessments, they need more leeway from local and national education leaders, more curricular options that enable the implementation, and more time-saving ways to document formative assessments. Project Based Learning provides for ongoing formative assessments both formal and informal, and the structure itself is a formative assessment process.

PBL Units from GoTeachGo

Visit TeachersPayTeachers where GoTeachGo offers comprehensive PBL units. All these units provide time-saving materials and assessments for each lesson, and each lesson supports the unit objective as a whole.

Here are some other great places to find ideas for formative assessments.
  1. Project Based Learning Units (PBL) from GoTeachGo
  2. 54 Different Examples of Formative Assessments
  3. 103 Formative Assessments
  4. Examples of Formative Assessments – West Virginia Department of Education
  5. A Sampling of Formative Types of Assessments
  6. Reading A-Z: Running Records and Benchmark Books
  7. Teacher Vision – Printable Running Records Forms
  8. Running Record Images and Links


Author: Sheri Rose, Precision Copy Editing, LLC