What is a formative assessment? What is the purpose of formative assessments?
Definition of Formative Assessment: Formative assessment refers to a wide variety of methods that teachers use to conduct in-process evaluations of student comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during a lesson, unit, or course. Formative assessments help teachers identify concepts that students are struggling to understand, skills they are having difficulty acquiring, or learning standards they have not yet achieved so that adjustments can be made to lessons, instructional techniques, and academic support.
Definition from https://www.edglossary.org/formative-assessment/
What do formative assessments look like in my class? How have they changed?
Sure, these are easy to grade, and some students say they like them. Mine said they liked them because “they are easy.” They are mainly identification, translation or conjugation (lower/mid levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy) and one or two word answers (Novice Low/Mid).
More importantly, I found that they were not prepping the students for the summative assessments or real life interactions. I’m not saying to immediately throw them all out, but to think about other options.
This was a BIG shift for me, but I saw results that I could not ignore: the students’ performance (on assessments and on the spot) improved much faster and they were reaching higher proficiency levels than they did in the past.
If communication is the final goal, then summative assessments should reflect that, and formatives should prepare them for summatives.
Formative “Quick” Checks
Here’s one where I asked a question at the end of class and they responded. While they were answering, I walked around and did a quick check to mark their sub-level. It provided time for some quick verbal feedback from me as well.
Here’s a question I wrestled with for awhile: If formatives are to identify concepts that students are struggling with so adjustments can be made to future lessons, should they receive a grade on this that affects their overall grade?
In real life, if my goal is to play well in a tennis match, I would not play a match every day. I need some practice and coaching to improve before the next match. Then I have the chance to try something (take a risk!) new before I try it in a match.
Now you’ve read my thoughts and some of my formative assessments. I’d love hear your thoughts and examples for formatives! There’s not only one way to teach a language!
Thanks Tammy. I used extra heavy gel medium
How do you give students feedback with their formative assessments?
In the past, I’ve always enjoyed direct translation sentences followed with an analysis of the verbs with sentences I may see on the summative assessment so I can give the whole class direct feedback as soon as they complete the formative assessment. Just curious your approach to see how I could tweak mine to make it more personal.
Similar to what you mentioned – if I see that most of the class is messing up something that they need to know for the summative assessment, then I can address the whole class.
Here’s a post that explains a little more about our philosophy of feedback:
Once I switched to proficiency-based instruction, I just needed to focus on what was appropriate to fix for their level. For example, “perfection” was not the goal, especially for level 1 and 2. Level 3 and up I found that was the best time to start focusing on refining those basic errors (like n/adj agreement). I tried to give quick feedback every day. This post talks about warm ups (read about checking the little boxes) that could also work as an exit slip:
Hope that helps!
Thank you for sharing your thought process in first switching to and then refining your proficiency-based model. I think that has been the most encouraging part of your blog for me, as a new teacher (#survived1styear).
Do you consider your experiences completion points? From your first homework stamp post, that’s what it sounded like, but in the ensuing comments, and on this post it looks like you have continued to adjust your practice.
Hi Sarah! I’m glad to know it’s helpful. (And congratulations on making it through the first year… whoop!) I see you are in Minneapolis. Were you at the MDE proficiency workshops?
At my last school which was standards-based, the “experiences” were considered evidence of the standards, mostly the community standard and some of the others. I really revamped what I put on there so that it was truly showing that. I did make them completion points. They had to complete the task plus a reflection. If they didn’t complete it thoroughly, they had to fix it. I didn’t take incomplete work for that. I have definitely adjusted my practice every year, little by little. Hope that helps!