Friday, January 31, 2014

Applying the Instructional Model: Part 3

Assessment. In my mind, always synonymous with test. Multiple-choice test. Icky, yucky, waste of time test. But my mind has been changed. This week, I truly learned the difference between formative and summative assessments in the simplest of ways: 

  • formative = for learning
  • summative = of learning
Because I have often held the viewpoint that summative assessments are standardized, I can honestly say that I did not realize how much summative assessment I have been using in my class when I thought I was using more formative assessment. And I am a more than a bit disappointed in myself because I thought I was a better teacher than that. 

My first lesson of the marking period was winter break haikus. I did not share the art of haiku with my students. I did not show them examples of wonderful poems. I showed them the format, then told them to write. Yes, I helped them along the way - if they made it to me before the bell rang. So some students got immediate feedback. Others, however, got no feedback. Bad, Ms. Foti! 

Then I had them write an acrostic to fill up a day when I was going to be out. No formative assessment for understanding. Just an assignment to turn in, thereby becoming a summative assessment of the method. Bad, Ms. Foti!

Rewriting a passage from "Flowers for Algernon"... three homework writing assignments... compound sentences... a reading passage reflection... a thinking map... All summative. None of these assignments have been for the learning. They have been of the learning. I am disappointed in me. I am sure I am doing some informal formative assessing, but based on what I have learned this week, I am far from where I need to be. 

This week, I read that we, as teachers, have spent a great deal of time focusing on the craft of teaching in recent years, and I know that I definitely have, but we, as teachers, have not spent as much time focusing on the students' learning. Time to shift thinking once and for all. Good, Ms. Foti. 

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