Formative Assessment Strategy of the Week

Week of June 13, 2011

POMS- Point of Most Significance


Week of June 6, 2011

Pass the Question


Week of May 30, 2011

Partner Speaks


Week of May 23, 2011

Muddiest Point


Week of May 16, 2011

Look Back


Week of May 9, 2011

K-W-L


Week of May 2, 2011

Justified Lists


Week of April 25, 2011

Juicy Questions


Week of April 18, 2011

I Used to Think... But Now I Know


Week of April 11, 2011

I Think-We Think


Week of April 4, 2011

Interest Scale


Week of March 28, 2011

Informal Student Interviews


Week of March 21, 2011

Human Scatterplots


Week of March 14, 2011

Guided Reciprocal Peer Questioning


Week of March 7, 2011

Give Me Five


Week of February 28, 2011

Frayer Model

Week of February 21, 2011

Four Corners

Description:

Four Corners is used with selected response questions to identify groups of students with similar responses to the question asked. Students move to a corner of the room designated to match their response or similar way of thinking.

How this FACT Promotes Student Learning:

Four Corners provides an opportunity for students to make their ideas public. By meeting "in the corner" with students who have similar ideas, students can further discuss and clarify their own thinking with others before returning to their seats and engaging in scientific argumentation with the class or small groups of students with different ideas. In the process of explaining their thinking, students sometimes notice gaps or inconsistencies in their own reasoning and question whether they have enough information to be certain their ideas are plausible.

How this FACT Informs Instruction:

Teachers can visually see which idea individual students have as well as which idea is most prevalent in the class. By circulating among corners as studnets are discussing and clarifying their ideas, the teacher gains insight into students' foothold ideas-those ideas students assume to be true at that point in time (Hammer & Van Zee, 2006). The information is used to inform instructional strategies that can help students gradually move toward and accept the factual ideas.

Design and Administration:

Choose a selected response assessment that includes an explanation and label the four corners of a room with the letter or name that matches the response. Ask students to individually think through their response, commit to an answer, and write their explanation. When students are finished with the task, have them go to the corner of the room that matches their selected response. Give students up to five minutes to share and discuss their thinking with others who selected the same response. Teachers can follow up the discussion at the Four Corners with a class debate about the ideas by having students return to their seats for mixed small groups and whole-class discussion. Another alternative is to have students remain in each of the corners and work together as a group to support their arguments in front of their peers. As students listen to and consider the arguments of other groups, they may move to a different corner when they give up their idea in favor of a new one. The challenge is to try to get all students over to one corner, ideally the one that represents the correct view.

General Implementation Attributes:

Ease of Use: High Time Demand: Low Cognitive Demand: High

Modifications:

Use different areas of the room or designated tables for more than four responses, or use only three corners for selected response items that include fewer than four selected responses.

Caveats:

This FACT works best in a classroom environment where students feel comfortable expressing and defending their own ideas without being influenced by others' responses.

Disciplines this FACT can be used in:

This FACT can be used in science, math, social studies, language arts, health, foreign language, and performing arts.


Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press



Week of February 14, 2011

Focused Listing

Description:

Focused Listing asks students to recall ideas and experiences related to a topic they encountered in a prior instructional unit or grade. Students list as many concepts, facts, and ideas as they can recall from prior instruction (Angelo & Cross, 1993).

How this FACT Promotes Student Learning:

This is a knowledge-comprehension level activity designed to activate thinking and improve ability to recall information and experiences from previous instruction. It helps students differentiate between what they think they learned in school and prior conceptions they may have developed outside formal learning experiences. It also helps students avoid the common complaint of "we already did that in (such in such) grade" by recognizing that teaching and learning require revisiting previous concepts and experiences in order to build upon them for deeper understanding.

How this FACT Informs Instruction:

Focused Listing helps the teacher gauge students' readiness and familiarity with facts, ideas, knowledge, or skills from a previous unit of instruction. The lists students generate provide information to the teacher about the web of recalled information and classroom experiences students associate with a curricular topic. The information is used to make decisions on how to best build from students' prior experiences and knowledge. The example below shows a sixth-grade example of a Focused List that recalls students' knowledge and experiences related to relection of light. Students previously learned about the reflection of light in third grade.

Example of Sixth Grade Focused List on Light Reflection:

Reflection of Light:

light bounces off things
light goes in different directions
light goes in straight lines
mirrors
full moon reflects light
water reflects light
bike reflectors
light waves
sunburn from reflection off water
shiny things

Design and Administration:

Select a topic that is an important part of your curricular unit. Make sure it is not too broad or too narrow. Have students write the word or phrase at the top of a sheet of paper and list as many terms, facts, ideas, concepts, definitions, or experiences as they can that they remember from previous lessons in other grades or units of study. Students can also work in small groups to develop collective Focused Lists. Examine the lists or have small groups post their charts. Look for similarities, noting which things students readily recall and whether the ones that are critical to learning are missing.

General Implementation Attributes:

Ease of Use: High Time Demand: Low Cognitive Demand: Medium

Modifications:

This FACT can also be conducted as a whole-class brainstormed list.

Caveats:

Generating items on the list does not always equate with understanding. Be aware that students can recall information and experiences without conceptual understanding or the ability to make connections between the words and statements on their list.

Disciplines that this FACT can be used in:

This FACT can be used in science, math, social studies, language arts, health, foreign languages, and performing arts.


Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press


Week of February 7, 2011

Fist to Five

Description:

Fist to Five asks students to indicate the extent of their understanding of a concept or procedure by holding up a closed fist (no understanding), one finger ( very little understanding), and a range up to five fingers (I understand it completely and can easily explain it to someone else). For example, after giving instructions for a lab acitivity, teachers might ask for a Fist to Five to do a quick check on whether students understand the directions before proceeding with the lab.

How this FACT Promotes Student Learning:

Fist to Five provides a simple feedback opportunity for all students in a class to indicate when they do not understand a concept or skill and need additional support in their learning. It is especially effective with individual students who are reluctant to let the teacher know they are experiencing difficulty during a lesson. It encourages metacognition by raising self-awareness of how well a student feels he or she understands a concept, skill, or procedure.

How this FACT Informs Instruction:

Fist to Five is a feedback and monitoring technique used to check understanding or skills at any point in a lesson. It is particularly useful when new material is presented, a new procedure is introduced, or directions for a task are given. It allows the teacher to direct the challenge and pace of lessons toward the needs of the students rather than follow a prescribed instructional plan. The quick read of the class provides teachers with the feedback they need to modify the lesson or pair students up to help each other.

Design and Administration:

At any time during a lesson, ask students to hold up their hands for a check of understanding. The closed fist idicates "I have no idea," one finger means "I barely understand," two fingers means "I understand parts of it but I need a lot of help," three fingers indicate "I understand most of it but I'm not sure I can explain it well enough to others," four fingers mean "I understand it pretty well and can do an adequate job explaining it," and five fingers indicate "I understand it completely and can easily explain it to someone else." Some teachers post a "Fist to Five" chart in the room so students remember how many fingers to hold up. Make sure all students hold up their hands. It can be used to group students for peer assistance by putting the students who hold up two to three fingers together with the students who hold up four to five fingers. The teacher can then take the closed fist and one finger responses aside for differentiated assistance.

General Implementation Attributes:

Ease of Use: High Time Demand: Low Cognitive Demand: Low

Modifications:

This FACT can be modified as a three finger strategy: one finger: I don't get it, two fingers: I partially get it, and three fingers: I get it. Likewise, you can use thumbs up: I get it, thumbs sideways: I'm not sure I understand, and thumbs down: I don't get it.

Caveats:

When matching students who claim to understand with students who need help, make sure that the students who held up four or five fingers really do understand well enough to explain it to others before putting them inot peer-assistance groups.

This FACT can be used in these disciplines:

This FACT can be used in math, science, social studies, language arts, health, foreign languages, and performing arts
.

Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press







Week of January 31, 2011

Fishbowl Think Aloud

Description:

The Fishbowl Think Aloud is a technique used to listen in on the thinking of a sampling of students in the class. Four or five students are selected to be in a "fishbowl", sitting in a cluster or the front of the room. The rest of the class and teacher face or surround the students who are in the "fishbowl" and listen attentively to their conversation. The conversation is a response to a prompt in which the students "think aloud," discussing and defending their ideas as the teacher and other students listen in and reconcile their own thinking with that of their peers in the "fishbowl."

How this FACT Promotes Student Learning:

This FACT requires the students in the "fishbowl" to think out loud, describe their thinking, and explain the reasons for their ideas. While the students in the "fishbowl" are thinking through and talking about their ideas, the other students are mentally comparing their ideas to what they are hearing in the "fishbowl". This continuous reflection on learning helps students think about their own ideas, strive to put them together in a coherent way, and compare their thinking with that of ideas of other students.

How this FACT Informs Instruction:

The students selected to sit in the "fishbowl" represent a sample of the class. The sample may surface some of the ideas and ways of thinking that are indicative of the group as a whole. As the teacher listens in on the conversation, understandings and misconceptions can be noted that may need to be addressed in subsequent instruction. The FACT also provides an opportunity for the teacher to see how well students can engage in "content talk" that is supported by evidence and explanation. If students have difficulty engaging in discussions that require them to justify their ideas with various forms of evidence, it indicates the need to further develop this hallmark skill. The observing students are allowed to ask questions and make comments at the end of the fishbowl discussion. This provides another opportunity to see how well students understand a concept, including their ability to identify inaccuracies and challenge statements that may conflict with their own thinking.

Design and Administration:

This FACT can be used during the elicitation or formal concept-development stage on the learning cycle. Choose students for the fishbowl who, as a group, are representative of the class as a whole. Seat them so they can see each other and so that the class can see them. These are the only students who can talk. Remind the other students that they are to listen during the fishbowl and note any questions or comments they want to make at the end.

Provide the students in the fishbowl with an interesting open-ended prompt for discussion to begin the thinking process. For example, "Is air necessary for gravity to act on an object?" One student will begin the process of thinking out loud, sharing his or her answer and the reasoning behind it. Other students join in, agreeing or disagreeing, building on each others' ideas. If students have not experienced techniques such as Volleyball-Not Ping-Pong! the teacher may have to help facilitate the conversation the first time the strategy is used. It is important to encourage all students in the fishbowl to participate and focus on each other, not the students who are watching and listening to them. After the fishbowl conversation ends, the students who have been listening and processing what they heard have an opportunity to share whether they agree or disagree with any of the ideas discussed in the fishbowl.

General Implementation Attributes

Ease of Use: Low Time Demand: Medium Cognitive Demand: Medium/High

Modifications:

Students outside the circle can come up with the questions for the fishbowl, in addition to the prompt provided by the teacher. Students can also ask a queston of the fishbowl group after they finish their fishbowl conversation. Each questioner then takes the seat of the student in the fishbowl who answered and becomes part of the fishbowl responses while the fishbowl student joins the rest of the class. This can be repeated several times, encouraging students to question each other and widening the opportunity for other students to participate.

Caveats:

It is important to set norms before this FACT is used so that students in the fishbowl feel comfortable with the public display of their thinking.

Disciplines to use this FACT with:

This FACT can be used in science, math, social studies, language arts, and health.


Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press







Week of January 24, 2011

First Word-Last Word

Description:

First Word- Last Word is a variation of acrostics. Students construct statements about a concept or topic before and after instruction that begins with a designated letter of the alphabet. The acrostic format provides a structure for them to build their idea statements off different starting letters that make up the topic word (Lipton & Wellman, 1998).

How this FACT promotes Student Learning:

The First Word acrostic is used to activate student thinking about the concept or topic students will be studying prior to beginning a unit. Writing conceptual statements that reflect one's understanding is a metacognitive task that requires students to think about what they already know. The Last Word provides a metacognitive opportunity for students to examine where they were in their thinking at the beginning of a unit of instruction and reflect on how their present understanding extends or modifies their initial understandings.

How this FACT Informs Instruction:

This FACT provides an opportunity at the beginning of instruction to uncover likely barriers to learning, such as tenaciously held misconceptions. After instruction, it helps teachers examine how students' ideas may have changed, solidified, or become more sophisticated throughout the course of their learning. In the example below on photosynthesis, the teacher can scan the First Word to determine what the student already knows, how sophisticated his or her knowledge or terminology is, and any misunderstandings he or she might bring from prior experiences. In this example, the student has a significant misconception about the plants getting their food directly from the soil. The teacher may notice similar ideas in other students' papers. The teacher uses this information to plan a lesson that will challenge the students' concept of "plant food."

The Last Word provides a postinstruction opportunity for teachers to assess how studentss have progressed in conceptual understanding, accuracy, and sophistication of ideas compared to their initial statements about the concept. It also reveals misconceptions that continue to persist. The example of the Last Word below indicates that the student changed his or her idea that plants get their food from the soil. Other ideas were revised that reflect an accurate and more sophisticated understanding. The information from Last Word also signifies whether additional learning experiences or modifications to lessons are needed.

FIRST WORD- PHOTOSYNTHESIS
Plants make their own food.
Happens in cells.
Other animals eat plants.
The roots take up food and water.
Oxygen is breathed in through leaves.
Sunlight makes food for plants.
You can't make your own food.
Needs water,sunlight, oxygen, and minerals.
The leaves, roots, and stems are all parts that make food.
Have to have sun and water.
Energy comes from the sun.
Sunlight turns plants green.
It happens in all plants.
Soil is used by plants to make food.

LAST WORD- PHOTOSYNTHESIS
Producers such as plants use energy from the sun to make their food.
Happens in cells that have structures called chloroplasts.
Organisms that eat plants are using stored energy from the plant.
The roots take water up to the leaves where it reacts with sunlight and carbon dioxide.
Oxygen is given off during photosynthesis and is used by plants and animals for respiration.
Sunlight provides the energy so plants can make food.
You need to have cells with chloroplasts and chlorophyll to make food.
Need water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight to make food.
The leaf is the food making part.
Have to have sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide.
Energy comes from sun
S unlight is trapped in the Chlorophyll.
Is a necessary life process for all plants.
Soil holds the water for plants and gives some minerals.


Design and Administration:

Choose one word or a short phrase that represents a major concept or focus of the curricular topic you are teaching. The First Word is given to students before beginning a sequence of instruction. Have students write the word vertically down the page. Start with the first letter in the acrostic to begin a statement related to the topic. Remind students that there is no such thing as a blank slate in their heads. Everyone can write something that springs to mind. Encourage students to write full sentences, not single words or short phrases. If students struggle with writing ideas as sentences rather than words or short phrases, create an example of a First Word acrostic using a concept they previously studied, to show students what the FACT should look like. Collect the First Words for analysis and save them for a final reflection. After completing a series of lessons on the concept or topic, the students repeat the process on a new sheet of paper called the Last Word. Pass bace the saved First Words and have students examine them to compare their ideas at the beginning of instruction to their current thinking. They write a Last Word by repeating what they stated before, if their idea has not changed; revising prior statements to include more detail, complexity, and appropriate terminology; or correcting misunderstandings by completely rewriting the statement to be structurely correct. Students are often quite surprised and excited to see how their ideas have changed considerably. They are able to recognize and acknowledge the extent to which new and deeper understanding developed as a result of their instructional experiences.

General Implementation Attributes

Ease of Use: Medium Time Demand: Medium Cognitive Demand: Medium

Modifications:

Use shorter words for the acrostic with younger students. This FACT can be used in pairs for students who lack strong language skills and need the support of a peer. It can also be used as a whole-class activity, charting the class ideas as the First Word and revisiting it to create a Last Word chart that reflects the class consensus after a sequence of instruction.

Caveats:

Don't assume students know what acrostics are. It may help to model the strategy with a familiar concept the first time it is used and/or begin some of the sentence stems with the class to start them off.

Disciplines this FACT can be used In:

Mathematics, science, social studies, language arts, health, foreign language, and performing arts.


Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press






Week of January 17, 2011

Fact First Questioning

Description:

Quality questions provide insight into students' ideas and growing knowledge base. Fact First Questioning is a higher-order questioning technique ued to draw out student knowledge beyond recall level. It takes a factual "what" question and turns it into a deeper "how" or "why" question because you are stating the fact first and asking students to elaborate.

How this FACT promotes Student Learning:

Students, including "high achievers," can memorize, recall, and recant information with very little conceptual understanding. By stating the fact first and asking students to explain or elaborate on it, you enable students to tap into deeper thinking processes that lead to a more enduring understanding of the concepts. Stating the fact first and then allowing for wait time provides an opportunity for students to activate their thinking about the concept before being asked the higher-level question.

How this FACT informs instruction:

This FACT helps teachers expand their repertoire of questioning strategies for the purpose of finding out what their students know and understand. A simple change in the way factual questions are asked and responded to can open up the door to providing valuable information to teachers about student understanding of the conceptual ideas related to an important fact. The information helps teachers determine whether students recall important knowledge at a superficial level or have developed deeper conceptual understanding. The information can be used to examine whether terminology and facts are overemphasized at the expense of understanding and adjust instruction accordingly to focus on concepts instead of terminology and facts.

Design and Administration:

Any factual question can be thoughtfully turned into a Fact First Question. Use the general template: State the fact followed by "Why is X an example of Y?" (Black et al., 2003). For example, instead of asking, "Which essential life process releases energy from food?" turn it around to ask, "Cellular respiration is an example of an essential life process. Why is cellular respiration an essential life process?" Instead of the factual recall answer-cellular respiration-from the first question, the Fact First Question produces a much deeper response that involves describing cellular respiration as a process that happens within cells to break down carbohydrates in order to release the energy required for cells to function.

General implementation attributes:

Ease of Use: High Time Demand: Low Cognitive Demand: Medium

Modifications:

Consider modifying traditional textbook recall questions into Fact First Questions. Have older students come up with their own Fact First Questions and responses.

Caveats:

Use Fact First Questions after students have had an opportunity to experience and learn the content. Some "why" questions are not appropriate for younger students in cases when observations are developed before explanations. For example, K-2 students should know the fact that the moon can sometimes be seen in the daytime. This can be observed by students and assimilated into their knowledge about the Earth, moon, and sun system. However, it is beyond the developmental level of primary-age students to respond to Fact First Question such as the following: The moon can sometimes be seen in the daytime. Why can the moon sometimes be seen during the day?

Disciplines this FACT can be used In:

This FACT can be used in science, math, social studies, language arts, health, foreign language, and performing arts.


Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press










Week of January 10, 2011

Directed Paraphrasing

Description:

Directed Paraphrasing involves students in translating a lesson or part of a lesson using language and examples appropriate for a specific audience (Angelo & Cross, 1993). For example, following a lesson on fossils that targeted ideas about kinds of objects that are considered to be fossils and how they became fossilized, students summarize the key points learned during the lesson as if they were talking to a younger brother or sister looking at fossils in a science museum; or, at a higher level, they may paraphrase their understandings as if they were talking to a paleontologist.

How this FACT promotes student learning:

Directed Paraphrasing provides an interesting, creative, and challenging way for students to summarize what they learned in their own words, use appropriate terminology, and consider how to best communicate their understanding to a specific audience. Explaining what one has learned to others, in examples and words familiar to the specific audience, provides a metacognitive opportunity for the learner to examine his or her own understanding and think about how to translate it so that others can understand. When one has to explain something to others, one's own learning increases. Listening to other students share their paraphrases and providing peer feedback further enhances student learning.

How this FACT informs instruction

Teachers can use this FACT to have students summarize a lesson or segment of a lesson. The lesson could be from a lecture, group discussion, activity, video, or text reading. Listening to students paraphrase what they learned provides an opportunity for the teacher to gauge whether key points in the lesson were identified and understood by students, indicating the need for revision or additional opportunities to learn the key ideas. Listening to the ways in which students students talk about their ideas also provides the teacher with useful information about students' scientific communication skills.

Design and Administration

First, decide on an appropriate time to break during the lesson so students can summarize what they learned without interrupting the conceptual flow of the lesson. Encourage students to individually record their ideas that summarize the lesson or part of the lesson selected before developing a paraphrase for their audience. Assign an audience or have students select one and challenge them to create their summary for the specific audience. Examples for audiences might include younger students, parents, students in the same class who were absent when the lesson was taught, adults with different careers, famous people, people whose work is related to the topic, or teachers in the school who teach different subject areas. Give time for students to think about how to put the summary into words and examples that would be appropriate for the intended audience. Another way to use Directed Paraphrasing is to assign different audiences to small groups. Have each group come up with a Directed Paraphrase they could share with the teacher and whole class for feedback.

General Implementation Attributes

Ease of use: Medium Time Demand: Medium Cognitive Demand: High

Modifications

Consider having the class generate the key points to summarize the lesson and then assign the Directed Paraphrase as an individual or small group assessment.

Caveats

In may be necessary to model an example for the class the first time this FACT is used. Directing the paraphrase toward a particular audience increases the cognitive demand of summarizing information. Make sure your students are familiar with the intended audience before asking them to translate what they learned for that audience.

Disciplines this FACT can be used in

Directed Paraphrasing can be used in social studies, science, language arts, health, and performing arts.


Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press






Week of January 3, 2011

Concept Card Mapping

Description:

Concept Card Mapping is a variation on the familiar strategy of concept mapping (Novak, 1998). Instead of constructing their own concept maps from scratch, students are given cards with the concepts written on them. They move the cards around and arrange them as a connected web of knowledge. They create linkages between the concept cards that describe the relationship between concepts. Moving cards provides an opportunity for students to explore and think about different linkages.

How this FACT promotes student learning:

Concept Card Mapping provides an opportunity for students to activate their prior knowledge, think about the relationships between familiar concepts, and make a visual representation of the connections in their own knowledge network. When students create maps collaboratively in small groups, the maps promote discussion. Individuals become more aware of their own ideas and may modify them accordingly as a result of the discussion generated in their group. Because there is no one "right answer", this FACT provides an open entry point for all learners. In the process of exploring their own and others' ideas, they use that information to connect ideas and terminology together in a coherrent way, deepening their understanding of the structure of a topic. Students who tend not to speak up in class have been found to contribute freely in the nonthreatening activity of mapmaking (White & Gunstone, 1992).

How this FACT informs instruction:

Teachers can use Concept Card Mapping as an elicitation prior to instruction or at key points in a sequence of lessons to gather information about how students make linkages among a connected set of concepts and terminology. Using a common set of predetermined words or phrases allows the teacher to see how different students, or groups of students, make conceptual sense of the same ideas in different ways. The student-generated sentences are examined carefully by the teacher to reveal any coneptual misunderstandings or incorrect ideas. The linkages made by students reveal the level of sophistication of their ideas, accuracy of content knowledge, and depth and breadth of their thinking. The information is used to inform the development of lessons that will provide students with an opportunity to explore and solidify important connections.

Different maps can be selected by the teacher to provide teacher-to-student and student-to-student feedback during the formal concept development phase of whole-class instruction. Discussion focuses on whether students agree or disagree with the connections made on the map and ways they may have made different linkages. The maps can also be used by the teacher to initiate questions that probe deeper for student understanding. Concept Card Mapping can be used again at the end of an instructional unit to help students reflect on the extent to which their knowledge increased or ideas changed since their original map was created.

Design and Administration

For the purpose of this technique, a concept is defined as a simple one- to two-word or three-word mental construct or short phrase that represents or categorizes an idea (Carey, 2000; Erickson, 1998). Choose concepts central to the topic of instruction and place them in squares that students cut out from a sheet of paper. If students have never created a concept map, start by introducing concept mapping through an interactive demonstration. Model and emphasize the importance of creating clear, connecting sentences.

Concept cards can be used as an individual activity or with pairs or small groups of students. When using this FACT with pairs or small groups, encourage students to think first about their own connections and then discuss them with others. Students decide which connections best represent the pair's or group's thinking. Once students are satisfied with their maps, they can glue down their cards, write in their linkages to form sentences, and share their maps with others for feedback.

General implementation attribute:

Ease of use: Low Time Demand: Medium Cognitive Demand: High

Modifications:

Combine pictures with words for younger students. Include a few blank cards for students to write in their own concepts to include on their map. If students struggle with determining the connecting words or phrases, consider providing examples of different connectors that can be used with topic chosen.

Caveats

The cognitive demand of this FACT depends on the concrete or abstract nature of the concept words selected and the number of cards to map. Choose the appropriate level of demand that matches the grade level of the students and complexity of the topic they are learning about.

Disciplines to be used in:

This FACT can be used in science, math, social studies, language arts, and health.

Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Week of November 1, 2010

A&D Statements

Description:

Students use A & D Statements to analyze a set of "fact or fiction" statements. In the first part of the statements, students may choose to agree or disagree with the statement or identify whether they need more info. In addition, they are asked to describe their thinking about why they agree, disagree, or are unsure. In the second part of this assessment, students describe what they can do to investigate the statement by testing their ideas, researching what is already known, or using other means of inquiry. The following figure shows an example of A & D Statements for a third-grade unit on magnetism:
Statement
How Can you Find Out
1. All magnets have 2 poles.
agree _disagree
_it depends on _not sure
My thoughts:

2. All metals are attracted to magnets.
_agree _disagree
_it depends upon _not sure
My thoughts:

3. Larger magnets are stronger than
smaller magnets.
_agree _disagree
_it depends on _not sure
My thoughts:

4. Magnetism can pass through
metals.
_agree _disagree
_it depends on _not sure
My thoughts:

How this FACT (Formative Assessment Classroom Technique) Promotes Student Learning

A & D Statements provide an opportunity for students to practice metacognition-thinking about their own understanding. In addition, this FACT "primes the pump" for student inquiry by having students describe how they could design an investigation or identify information sources that would help them determine the validity of the statement. When used in small groups, A & D Statements provide stimuli to encourage scientific discussion and argumentation. Through the process of defending or challenging scientific arguments aimed at the statements, students may solidify their own thinking, consider the alternative views of others, and modify their own thinking as new information replaces or becomes assimilated into their existing knowledge and beliefs.

How this FACT Informs Instruction

A & D Statements are best used at the beginning of a learning cycle to elicit students' ideas about a topic. The information helps teachers identify areas where students may need targeted instructional experiences that will challenge their preconceptions and increase confidence in their own ideas. The results can be used to differentiate instruction for selected groups of students who have similar ideas about the topic. Students' descriptions of how they can find out whether the statements are correct provide data the teacher can use regarding their ability to design experiments or identify appropriate scientific sources of information.

Design and AdministratiAon

Select A & D Statements that focus on specific concepts and skills that students will encounter in the curriculum. Develop statements that can lead to inquiry with hands-on materials, books, videos, or other information sources. Students should first be given the opportunity to respond to the FACT individually. Then, have students discuss their ideas in small groups, coming to consensus on whether they agree with the statement while noting any disagreements among group members. After they have had time to consider each others' ideas and design a way to further test or research information, allow time for small groups to investigate the statements as exploratory activities. These activities provide a common experience for whole-class discussion aimed at resolving discrepancies between students' initial ideas and discoveries made during their explorations. The teacher should listen carefully as the class shares its findings, building off the students' ideas to provide guidance and clarification that will help students accommodate new understandings.

General Implementation Attributes

Ease of use: Medium Time Demand: Medium
Cognitive Demand: Medium

Modifications

The FACT can be modified for younger students by focusing on one statement at a time, rather than a set of statements.

Caveats

The FACT should not be used solely as a "true or false" assessment. It is important to provide follow-up experiences for students to investigate the statements, particularly those in which there is a conflict between students' preconceptions and the scientific ideas.

Use in other disciplines

This FACT can also be used in math, social studies, language arts, health, foreign languages, and performing arts.

Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.



Week of November 8, 2010


Agreement Circles


Description

Agreement Circles provide a kinesthetic way to activate thinking and engage students in scientific argumentation. Students stand in a circle as the teacher reads a statement. The students who agree with the statement step to the center of the circle. They face their peers still standing in the circle and then match themselves up in small groups of students who agree and disagree. The small groups engage in discussion to defend their thinking. After discussions, the students are given an opportunity to reposition themselves with those who now agree standing in the center of the circle and those who disagree standing on the outer regions of the circle. This is repeated with several rounds of statements relating to the same topic, each time with students starting by standing along the circumference of a large circle.

How this FACT (Formative Assessment Classroom Technique) Promotes Student Learning

Agreement Circles activate students' thinking about ideas related to a topic they are studying. As the statements are made, students access their existing knowledge. They must justify their thinking to their peers about why they agree or disagree with the statement. As they engage in a cordial argument with their "opposing partners" still standing on the circle, students may modify their ideas as new information convinces them that their original ideas may need adjustment and either step into or onto the circle.

How this FACT Informs Instruction

This FACT can be used prior to instruction or during the concept development stage when formally introduced concepts may need reinforcement. The teacher can get a quick visual sense of students'understanding according to which part of the circle they are in. As the teacher circulates and listens to students' arguments, information about students' thinking is revealed that can be used to design further learning experiences or revisit prior experiences aimed at developing conceptual understanding. Giving students an opportunity to change their position after discussion indicates the extent to which the small group discussions may have changed some students' initial thinking.

Design and Administration

Develop a set of three to five conceptually challenging statements related to the topic of instruction. Statements should be a combination of true and false. False statements can be developed based on examining the research on students' commonly held ideas. For example, a set of eighth-grade statements used to elicit students' ideas about energy might be as follows:

1. Energy is a material that is stored in an object.
2. When energy changes from one form to another, heat is usually given off.
3. Energy can never be created or destroyed.
4. Something has to move in order to have energy.
5. Energy is a type of fuel.
Begin by having students form a large circle. Read the first statement, then give students five to ten seconds of think time. Ask students to move to the center of the circle if they agree with the statement and stay on the outside if they disagree. Match students up 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, 1:5, or whatever the proportion of agree/disagree indicates and give them a few minutes to defend their ideas in small groups. Call time,read the statement again, and have students reposition themselves according to whether their ideas have changed or stayed the same. Students who agree with the statement move to the inside of the circle. Students who disagree stay on the outside. Note any changes and then have students go back to the circle for another round. When finished with all rounds, the next step depends on the stage of instruction. If the FACT was used to activate and elicit student thinking, then the next step is to plan and provide lessons that will help students to explore their ideas further and formulate understandings. If the FACT was used during concept development stage provide an opportunity for a whole-class discussion to resolve conceptual conflicts, formalize development of the key ideas, and solidify understanding.

General Implementation Attributes

Ease of use: High Time Demand: Medium

Cognitive Demand: Medium/High

Modifications

Limit the number of statements for younger students. If all students end up in either the middle or outside the circle, have them pair up to explain why they agree or disagree. Often there are d
ifferences in the justification of their ideas, even if both students agree or disagree with the statement.

Caveats

Students need to be confident in their thinking when using this strategy. Encourage students to refrain from changing their answer because they see a majority of students move to the inside or outside of the circle.

Disciplines to Use this FACT with

This FACT can be used in math, social studies, language arts, health, foreign languages, and performing arts, as well as science.


Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.




Week of November 15th, 2010


Annotated Student Drawings

Description

Annotated Student Drawings are student-made, labeled illustrations that visually represent and describe students' thinking about desired concepts.

How this FACT promotes Student Learning

Annotated Student Drawings encourage students to access their prior knowledge and visually represent their thinking. The act of drawing to explain a concept encourages sense making and awareness of one's own ideas. Students are challenged to think about how to visually represent and explain an idea with minimal use of words. Students who are strong visual learners and communicators may find this technique especially helpful. These students are often at a disadvantage on written assessments that involve text only. This FACT gives them an outlet for sharing their thoughts.

How this FACT informs Instruction

Annotated Student Drawings can be used at the beginning of a learning cycle to engage students in a topic they are familiar with. The teacher can identify conceptual difficulties that students have stemming from prior knowledge or experiences. They can also be used to see how students use the terminology. Graphic images, terminology used, and descriptions that explain the drawing may reveal gaps and misconceptions that can be addressed in subsequent lessons.

This FACT can also be used after students have had an opportunity to develop ideas during the concept-development phase. Teachers can examine the drawings and descriptions for indications of the need to clarify terminology, provide feedback to individual students on selected aspects of their drawings, or provide additional learning opportunities to further solidify understanding. Selected drawings can be used with the whole class to support concept development by giving the class an opportunity to examine each others' drawings, ask further questions, and provide peer feedback on the accuracy and appropriateness of their drawings and use of terminology.

The drawings can also be used for student reflection. Drawings made before instruction can be revisited to allow students to reflect on what they have learned and to describe learning experiences that helped them gain new understandings. As a self-assessment activity, students can be given an opportunity to revise their drawings, labeled terminology, and descriptions based on what they now understand, describing how and why their new drawing differs from their first one. This information can be used by the teacher to evaluate the effectiveness of the instruction and to address student misconceptions.

Design and Administration

Choose an idea that is central to the curricular topic and that can be represented through students' drawing. Provide a clear prompt for the drawing that will elicit the information that you are seeking. Show students an example from a familiar topic the first time you use this strategy, pointing out how annotations are used to briefly explain or label important ideas and words depicted in the drawing. Emphasize that you are more interested in their ideas that the right answer or artistic quality of their drawings. While circulating among students and examining their drawings, ask probing questions to promote deeper thinking. After students have completed their drawings, provide an opportunity for them to talk about their drawings and receive feedback on their ideas from peers as well as the teacher.

General Implementation Attributes

Ease of use: Medium Time Demand: Medium Cognitive Demand: Medium

Modifications

Consider having younger students verbally describe and name parts of their drawings while the teacher annotates it for them. This FACT can also be administered as a small group assessment, using a large sheet of paper or whiteboards. Students work collaboratively, discussing their ideas as they reach consensus on the visual components and annotations that should be included in the drawing.

Caveats

It is best to use this FACT as an in-class activity. Doing this in class ensures that students will represent their own thinking without accessing information from other sources. This is important because the purpose of this acitivity is to find out what is on your students' minds. This" activity may be frustrating for students who are strong in verbal abilities and weak in artistic ability. A suggested caution is to be careful when praising students who exhibit strong artistic ability as it may signify to other students that their drawings are "not as good" and detract from the purpose of making their ideas visible.

Other Disciplines that can use this FACT

Science, math, social studies, health

Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press


Week of November 22, 2010

Card Sorts

Description

Card Sorts is a sorting activity in which students group a set of cards with pictures or words on them according to a certain characteristic or category. Students sort the cards based on their preexisting ideas about the concepts, objects, or pro

cesses on the cards. As students sort the cards, they discuss their reasons for placing each card into a particular group.

How this FACT promotes student learning

Card Sorts allows students to access their prior knowledge. It also promotes metacognition by bringing uncertainties to the surface. As students work in pairs or small groups to sort the cards, they justify their own ideas, practice skills of argumentation, consider the ideas of others, and modify their own thinking as new information is obtained. This also allows students to realize that sometimes things don't always fit into neat categories.

How this FACT informs instruction

Card Sorts provide a way for teachers to elicit students' preconceptions, assess students' ability to transfer knowledge when provided with new examples or contexts, and look for areas of uncertainty or disagreement among students that may signify the need for further instruction. While students discuss their ideas, the teacher circulates around the classroom listening to students agree, disagree, or express uncertainty. The teacher notes ideas that are most problematic to become the focus of future lessons.

Design and administration
Prepare sets of cards that aligCCn with the content goal of the lesson. You can place text on index cards or make cards from preprinted matchbook-size squares on a sheet of paper and have students cut them out. Provid. e students with a category header under which to sort their cards. Encourage students to lay out each card in a row or column under the category header rather than on top of each other so that you can see how students sort each individual item. Have students work in small groups to discuss each of the cards and come to common agreement on which category to place it in before sorting the next card. Listen carefully to students as they discuss and argue their ideas. Note examples where instructional opportunities may need to be designed to challenge students' ideas. If a record of students' thinking is needed, provide individual students and/or small groups with a recording sheet to note where each card was placed along with a justification for its placement.

General Implementation Attributes

Ease of Use: High Time Demand: Medium Cognitive Demand: Medium

Modifications

For younger students or fluent readers, use pictures of familiar objects or combine pictures with words. Limit to no more than two sorting categories for younger students-those that fit the concept and those that do not. For older students, consider using multiple categories where appropriate. Consider adding a third category such as "it depends on" or "not sure".

Caveats

This FACT can turn into a vocabulary exercise if the words are unfamiliar to students. Some students, particulary English-language learners, may need help reading the cards or require visual cues. Emphasize that students need to talk about each card before they assign it to a category. Discourage students from quickly sorting all the cards first and then discussing them.

Use in other disciplines

This FACT can be used in science, math, social studies, language arts, health, foreign languages, and performing arts.

Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press


Week of November 29, 2010


CCC- Collaborative Clued Corrections

Desccription

CCC provides an alternative way to mark student papers with comments that encourage revision. Students complete and submit an assignment made up of selected responses or short answers. The teacher purposefully selects a sample of student papers that includes incorrect or partially correct responses. The teacher reviews the samples and provides feedback regarding the number and types of errors or areas for improvement. However, the specific questions or area for correction in each question are not explicity identified by the teacher. They are only "clued". The sample set of "clued" papers is distributed to small groups of students, who work together to collaboratively seek out the problem areas and revise them.

How this FACT promotes student learning

The purpose of this FACT is to provide feedback to students on homework or class assignments, which typically get corrected, passed back, and quickly forgotten. The CCC supports Black and Wiliam's research on how learning improves when students are given feedback on their work that encourages revision rather than marking wrong answers and giving grades, which can have negative consequences in terms of sending an unspoken message that students lack ability. Working together as a group provides all students with an opportunity to activate and discuss their own ideas and modify them based on peer feedback. The task of identifying the areas that need improvement, based on the teacher's clues, provides greater content engagement in learning than passing back marked assignments. Feedback from the clues focuses students on the content of the learning goals rather than how well one student does in comparison to others. Marked and graded assignments, particularly when students have multiple errors and no opportunities to make revisions, are often ignored, thus contributing little to furthering content understanding.

How this FACT informs instruction

CCC is an example of a technique in which passing back class work or homework assignments can be used as learning opportunities while helping teachers manage feedback on student work in an efficient way. Not every student paper needs to be corrected and commented on by the teacher. By selecting representative samples of work that contain common errors that small groups of students then collaborate on to revise, the teacher is free to circulate among groups to provide additional feedback that will support student learning.

Design and administration

CCC's are best used with short answer assignments that can springboard into engaging learning opportunities for students to activate and explain their thinking. Select papers for the CCC that include common errors made by students in the class. Provide comments on the paper that do not explicitly point out where the error or area for improvement lies. The following is an example of clues a teacher might write on a high school homework assignment:

"I found two factual mistakes in your descriptions. One explanation lacked sufficient evidence to support it. Check your math--there are two mathematical errors dealing with conversions. There is one scientific term you used in a way that might be interpreted incorrectly. One of your explanations could be improved by using a drawing to explain your solution to the problem. With your partners, identify and discuss the areas that need improvement and work together to revise them."

Feedback/revision groups should be formed based on the learning needs and social interaction of the individuals in the group. Each small group can include the student whose paper was marked with clues. Students work together in their small groups to identify the areas of correction or improvement, discuss their ideas related to the questions on the assignment, and collaboratively revise the work once all members of the group accept the corrections. The work is resubmitted and then becomes representative of the group, rather than the individual. This encourages others to participate even though the student work is not their own. After resubmitting the group's work, the teacher returns the remaining unmarked papers for students to revise on their own or with a partner. Students become more interested in reviewing their own unmarked papers and looking for areas to change or improve on, after having an opportunity to first analyze another student's work.

It is important to provide time to teach this strategy and allow students an opportunity to practice it. One way of doing this is to choose one or two samples of anonymous student work to copy, write clues, and use with the whole class in examining the clues, looking for the areas that need revision, and discussing and making revisions to improve the quality and content accuracy of the work.

General implementation attributes

Ease of use: Medium Time Demand: Medium Cognitive Demand: Medium/High

Modifications

Use short answer, matching, fill in the blank, or multiple choice with students who have a difficult time deciphering handwriting or reading a lot of student handwritten text. Note the number of answers that need revision. Even though questions and responses are not as robust in a forced-choice assignment as they are in an open-response format, the discussions that ensue during the CCC provide an opportunity for rich content-focused dialogue.

Caveats

Be careful that students do not construe this as an opportunity to put less effort into their own work if they know that only a few papers will be selected for revision. This FACT works best in classroom environments where students embrace the idea that their own work is an important means of helping all students improve the quality of their work. Make sure that all students have an opportunity to review their own work after the CCC, regardless of whether their papers were the ones selected to be clued.

Use in other disciplines

This FACT can be used in all disciplines.

Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press





Week of December 5, 2010


Chain Notes


Description

Chain Notes begin with a question printed at the top of a paper. This paper is then circulated from student to student. Each student responds with one to two sentences related to the question and passes it on to the next student. Upon receiving the previous "chain of responses," a student adds a new thought or builds on a prior statement.

How this FACT promotes student learning

Chain Notes provide an opportunity for students to examine others' ideas and compare them to their own thinking. In the process of examining others' ideas, students build upon them or add new ideas of their own. The FACT encourages students to move beyond recall since they must first synthesize and evaluate what others have recorded before adding their own ideas. Chain Notes provide an opportunity for students to draw upon various levels of knowledge, including facts, definitions, specific ideas, big ideas, analogies, illustrative examples, and evidence from their own or class experiences to contribute to building the chain.

How this FACT informs instruction

Chain Notes elicit different ideas students have about concepts they encounter during or after a lesson or sequence of lessons. They are best used as a check for understanding after students have had sufficient opportunities to explore and learn about the concept addressed by the question in the note. Analysis of the notes reveals the extent to which students draw upon formal definitions and ideas presented and discussed in class as well as the hands-on experiences they have had. The notes reveal students' level of sophistication and accuracy in thinking about the concept, the terminology they use, and common misconceptions. Examining the chain of responses can indicate to the teacher whether the lessons students engaged in allowed them to make sufficient connections to the concept and whether they should be modified or revisited. Varied information about students' ideas related to the concept in question can be gathered using this FACT.

Design and administration

Select a broad, open-ended question focused on a particular concept relevant to the curriculum. Write the question at the top of a long sheet of paper. In addition, post the question somewhere in the room so that every one can see it. Pass the note around the class from student to student having each student add a short sentence that relates to the question and builds upon, extends, or disagrees with others' comments. Make sure students know they should read all prior responses before adding their own "note." Encourage students to build upon the last note made so that it connects with the idea they are adding. Have students turn the sheet over when they run out of space on the first page. The notes can be passed around as students are engaged in other tasks. It should take no more than one to two minutes per student to respond and pass on. Notes should be brief--only one to two sentences in length. When completed, the Chain Notes can be read aloud or projected from an overhead, allowing students to give feedback on the statements made by their peers. Students discuss whether they agree or disagree with the statements on the paper and defend their reasoning.

General implementation attributes

Ease of use: HIgh Time Demand: Medium Cognitive Demand: Medium

Modifications

Have students accordion-fold their paper each time they respond so only the last note or last two notes appear when they pass it on. The next student writes a note and then accordion-folds it again so that only his or her response appears when passing it on to the next student, and so on. This way, teachers can analyze how students consider and build upon the ideas of their peers without being distracted by all the previous comments.

Caveats

This FACT should be explicitly taught and modeled the first time it is used. Make sure students are not influenced by other students' ideas or merely parroting back what others have written.

Disciplines to be use in

This FACT can be used in all content areas.

Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press


Week of December 13, 2010


Commit and Toss


Description

Commit and Toss is an anonymous technique used to get a quick read on the different ideas students have in the class. It provides a safe, fun, and engaging way for all students to make their ideas known to the teacher and the class without individual students being identified as having "wild" or incorrect ideas. Students are given a question. After completing the question, students crumple their paper up into a ball and, upon a signal from the teacher, toss the paper balls around the room until the teacher tells them to stop and pick up or hold on to one paper. Students take the paper they end up with and share the ideas and thinking that are described on their "caught" paper, not their own ideas.

How this FACT promotes student learning

Commit and Toss incorporates an essential component of conceptual-change teaching and learning-committing to an outcome based on students' own ideas. Before students crumple and toss their papers, they must think about the question posed, commit to a response, and describe their thinking. This FACT helps students recognize that it is common for students in a class to have different ideas. There is a sense of relief when a student realizes that he or she is not alone in his or her answer. It helps students see that "wrong" answers can be just as valuable for building learning opportunities and constructing new ideas as "right" answers. It provides a nonthreatening opportunity to make everyone's ideas public regardless of whether they are wrong or right. It allows students to tap into others' thinking, comparing their own ideas with others' in the class. Since the technique is anonymous, individual students are more likely to reveal their own ideas rather than providing a "safe" answer they think the teacher wants to hear.

How this FACT informs instruction

Commit and Toss allows the teacher to get a quick read on ideas and explanations that are prevalent in the class. It is a very engaging way to get a class snapshot of student thinking. The information is used to design and provide targeted learning opportunities for conceptual change, including an opportunity for students to test their ideas or gather more information that will support or modify their thinking.

Design and administration

Choose a content goal. Design or select a forced-choice assessment item that requires students to commit to an outcome and provide a justification for the answer they selected.

Remind students not to write their names on their papers. Give students time to think about and record their response, give the cue to crumple their paper into a ball, stand up, and toss it back and forth to other students. Students keep tossing and catching until the teacher says to stop. Make sure all students have a paper. Remind students that the papers they have in their hand will be the one they talk aobut, not the answer and explanation they wrote on their own paper.

After students catch a paper, give them time to read the response and try to "get into the other student's head" by making sense of what the student was thinking. Ask for a show of hands for particular responses. Have students get into small groups according to the selected response on their paper and discuss similarities or differences in the explanations provided for each choice. The teacher can list the ideas mentioned, avoiding passing any judgments, while noting the different ideas students have that will inform the instructional opportunities that will follow.

Once all the ideas have been made public and discussed, engage students in a class discussion to decide which ideas they believe are most plausible and to provide justification for their thinking. This is the time when they can share their own ideas. Following an opportunity to examine the class's thnking, ask for a show of hands indicating how many students are sticking to their original idea. With consensus from the class, select a few of the common ideas and have students decide in small groups or as a class how to go about investigating the question in order to determine the correct explanation. Provide opportunities for students to test or use other resources to research their ideas. Revisit these ideas again during the formal concept-development stage to help students build a bridge between their ideas and the explanation. Ask students to consider what else it would take to convince them of the explanation if they are still having doubts.

General implementation attributes

Ease of Use: High Time Demand: Low Cognitive Demand: Medium

Modifications

This FACT can be modified to fit a less rambunctious situation by adapting it to a "commit, fold, and pass" where students fold their paper in half and pass it around the room until the teacher gives the signal to stop passing.

Caveats

This is a fun, engaging technique- for this reason, be careful not to overuse it or it will lose its effectiveness. Remind students to honor anonymity, even if they recognize someone's handwriting. It is also important to establish the norm that disparaging or other types of negative comments should never be made about the student paper they end up with.

Use in other disciplines

This FACT can be used in all content areas.


Keeley, Paige. (2008) Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press