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Evaluation and Assessment

FACTS: Formative Assessment Classroom Techniques - Let's Share!

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Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92246 Points

Hi Everyone! As I was watching a webinar by Page Keeley, she shared a couple of FACTs (Formative Assesssment Classroom Techniques) that I had never heard of before. I thought it might be fun to start a thread where we could share different FACTS that we use effectively in our classrooms. Of course the Page Keeley probes go without saying - they are outstanding! Here's one I would like to share: I like to use "Card Sorts". I make cards containing important pictures or words or phrases that are part of a lesson. I have the students sort them for a particular attribute. It is easy for me to check their understanding by just going around to see the make up of their piles. Your turn :-)

Marelis Rivera Marelis Rivera 2365 Points

I also love card sorts! I have been using interactive notebooks and so the students keep their card sorts in little envelopes and are able to refer back to them and use them as study aides. They love it.

Sarenia Johnson Sarenia Johnson 860 Points

This is a great blog with lots of instructional strategy ideas that I look forward to researching and possibly implementing in my classroom.

Jessica Payton jessica payton 435 Points

Hello Carolyn, Card sorts is a really interesting idea that supports multi intelligence and sensory learners! I would like to used this for more complex content areas such as science or math in the elementary environment. I could have my science students categorize card sorts into two piles. One of good safety rules and one of bad safety rules. I love the idea of assessments that reflect student understanding using creative materials such as card sorts.

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

My two favorite formative assessment strategies are one minute papers and exit tickets. Here is how to use both Exit Tickets 1. Give students “tickets” – small pieces of paper designed to look like tickets, but with space for writing. 2. Ask students two questions. One that requires a factual answer about the big idea of today’s lesson, but in their own words. A second question should require more explanation of a concept. 3. Give students five minutes at the end of class to write their answers. Their names do not go on these exit tickets. 4. They must give you an Exit Ticket to leave class for the day. 5. Analyze the tickets to learn how many students got the big idea and how they understand it or misunderstand it. Photocopy 4-6 on a single sheet of paper for your portfolio. Select ones that you learned something about your students from that you didn’t know before reading the Exit Tickets. One-Minute Papers 1. Give students an open-ended question and one to three minutes to write their answers. 2. Good questions: What is the most important thing we discussed today? Or What was the most confusing idea presented today? 3. Collect the papers and use for promoting discussion, identifying misconceptions, or confusion. 4. Photocopy samples of the papers to use with your reflections.

Sandra Gonzalez Sandra Gonzalez 960 Points

I love the idea of the exit ticket. I've heard about it, but never really got to understand the way it actually works! You did a great job in explaining their purpose. It is a really nice thing to do when you can read each students individual comments and it can help us teachers understand our students' level of understanding. As well as the 1-minute activity, I woul definitely like to use it in my class to allow students to open up and discuss their learning or confusions from the lesson for that day. Teachers are given a great way to reflect on their teaching when reading all the students work.

Marci McGlin Marci McGlin 375 Points

I love the idea of the one minute paper! I've used exit tickets before and have gotten some valuable information about what the students have retained from the lesson. But I like that the one minute paper gives students the choice to write about the most important, or most confusing, thing they learned today. I think that is a great way to give students control of their own learning. I can definitely see myself using these in my own classroom!

Brandi Hanson Brandi Hanson 85 Points

GENIUS idea to photocopy the exit tickets to put in our documentation binders!! I am thinking about getting some Vis-A-Vis markers and making a half-sheet, laminated exit ticket for each of my students because I know that I am not yet organized to look through all of them before the next class. I also don't want to keep up with any more paperwork than is absolutely necessary - and this particular type of formative assessment is more to guide our instruction than to provide feedback to students, so I don't feel like I have to make comments and hand it back.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92246 Points

Thank you, Pam. Those are two outstanding FACTs! And thank you for sharing how you use them, too. I can see this thread as a resource for teachers to come to in order to check for their students' understandings in new and different ways. Has anyone ever heard of the 'Commit and Toss' FACT? I first heard about this one in Page Keeley's power point presentation and archived webinar about this topic (Archive: Formative Assessment in Science- Using Students' Ideas to Inform Instruction and Promote Learning, May 2, 2011). Students write down their questions on pieces of paper. Then they wad their papers up into balls. When the teacher directs them to do so, students toss their 'balls' into the air and catch one of them. Then students can open up their new balls and read the questions on them. This allows for anonymity, so that students are more willing to ask a question about something they might not understand from the day's lesson. I can't wait to hear about some other ideas being used in classrooms to help us teachers inform our practices and help our students to learn.

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

Has anyone read this book on Formative assessment? What do you think? So What Do They Really Know? Assessment That Informs Teaching and Learning Cris Tovani In So What Do They Really Know? Cris Tovani explores the complex issue of monitoring, assessing, and grading students' thinking and performance with fairness and fidelity. Like all teachers, Cris struggles to balance her student-centered instruction with school system mandates.

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

I use a format called TIPS for opening bell work each day. I have the letters T, I, P, and S written down the left side of the paper and next to each they must: T - Think or restate the question in their own words I - Information or list the information provided in the question that they can use to help answer it, or answer what information do they need to know to be able to answer the question. P - process or how did you solve the question. If from the text book, what page number. S - Solution or what is the full sentence answer to the question. I like the TIPS format because it forces students to think about the question and the reasons for their response. Thoughts?

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92246 Points

That seems like a great way to help focus the children's thinking, Sue. Thank you for sharing! Another FACT that I have used although some may not think of it as a formative assessment strategy is Wait Time. By purposely giving students more time think about an answer to a question the teacher is asking, the teacher allows every student to construct an answer. Along with that, I do not call on someone before asking the question. That way every student is engaged in thinking about the answer and not just one person. Also, using popsicle sticks or some other way to make the person to be called upon more random helps keep students engaged in the discussion.
I came across an article in the Learning Center that has a chart that the authors call the 'Formative Assessment Toolbox'. It has some other neat ideas you might be interested in reading about. The article is:
Formative Assessment: Redirecting the Plan
I can't wait (please don't make me wait too long) to hear some other FACT ideas.

Beth Eisentraut Beth Eisentraut 925 Points

Carolyn, Thanks for your FACTS ideas. Giving students time to think and reflect gives our introverted students who need a bit more time to process an opportunity to gather their thoughts and share their wonderful insights. I love it.

Jenny Hensgen Jenny Hensgen 1375 Points

We are reading Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan William as a whole building in the fall and we have been on the formative assessment journey for the past year. There is a lot to talk about with this topic. Who do you think benefits more the student or the teacher by collecting this information? How does it help students monitor their own learning progress? How does it help the teacher to fine tune their instruction?

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

I think both benefit. If feedback is provided to the students, and they are able to "close the loop" then they have gained an opportunity to affirm or to begin to correct their developing knowledge on the topic. The teacher gains if she/he is able to redesign the lessons to address the students' misunderstandings. I use bell work first thing during class to either see what students already know or to see what they remember from the previous day. The problem I run into is finding time to read each and every bell work response. I generally try to sort them into "getting it," "got it," and "not close yet" piles. If only one or two students in each class are not getting it, I try to find time to speak with them individually or place them within a strong group, capable of explaining the concept to them. I don't tell them that they "don't get it," but I do try align my groups so students can teach each other based upon students' response on bell work. Thoughts?

Aaron Sims Aaron Sims 200 Points

Hello, In terms of giving students feedback I use the clickers as a way to conduct a "quick" assessment of students' knowledge. The questions may be in the form of multiple choice or short answer. After receiving showing students the real time data I attempt to engage students in rich and meaningful discussion about their misconceptions. Sometimes the problem comes in because the time it may take to answer all questions.

Aaron Sims Aaron Sims 200 Points

Hello, In terms of giving students feedback I use the clickers as a way to conduct a "quick" assessment of students' knowledge. The questions may be in the form of multiple choice or short answer. After receiving showing students the real time data I attempt to engage students in rich and meaningful discussion about their misconceptions. Sometimes the problem comes in because the time it may take to answer all questions.

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

Carolyn, I had never heard about the “Commit and Toss” FACT. I like the idea, not sure my room would survive though, too many low hanging items and expensive technology. Many, many years ago I used a version of this, though it was before I had heard of Page Keeley. It was sort of like musical chairs. Similar to “Catch and Toss”, the students would write their question, aha moment, or “I wonder …” thinking onto a piece of paper. Students then passed their papers to the right until the music stopped. They then had one minute to respond on the piece of paper, refold it, then the music started again. We did this four times, I collected the papers and posted them on the bulletin board for all to see and share. Because there were no names on them, students were much more honest about what they wrote. It was really fun to see such a variety of ideas and thoughts shared. It was informative to me as well as amusing at times. It got to the point where students asked if they could expand the written possibilities to add, “I really appreciated when …” so they could give accolades to peers. This suggestion really helped build trust in the room as well as students becoming more willing to take a risk hoping someone would acknowledge them.

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

Sandy, I really like that idea...all except the "tossing" aspect. :-) My students need to be discouraged from throwing things now in class. If I ask them to toss something, there is no telling how long it would take to get the "game" to stop. If there was a way to "manage" this easily, I would be willing to try though. Do you teach the "organized toss" or does it just "work" with your students? What age group do you teach? Suggestions? Sue

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

Sue, I totally agree about the not tossing. It takes a lot of training to get them to not have the tossing habit, so the last thing I want to do is encourage it. I have the kids pass their papers to the right or the left. I teach middle school students, 7th and 8th graders. So far they have really enjoyed using the strategy.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92246 Points

Hi Sue and Sandy, About the Commit and Toss strategy - like any "game" the rules have to be made clear. Once in a while one may have to allow students to 'misbehave' and have a fun activity stopped in order to model the level of appropriate behavior that is expected. Every class is different too. What I might do in one class, I might not be able to do in another. Try it in the class that exhibits the most mature behavior first. It really is a fun way to allow students to ask questions anonymously.

Elizabeth Penn-Jones Elizabeth Penn-Jones 1280 Points

Thank you guys for sharing your "FACTS". I like some of the ideas and I will be trying some of them for this up and coming continuation of my "Plate Tectonics" lesson. It also will help in finding out which students are getting the lesson and which ones are missing the concept completely. I typically use exit slips but after read some these posts, I realize that I wasn't being specific enough in my line of questioning, also, I think I may use some of these questions on my future quizzes. And photocopying the tickets for my reflections, It's such a simple concept but I will trying that as well.

Wendy Ruchti Wendy Ruchti 24875 Points

I love all these ideas. I have used many of these strategies including clickers (I use poll everywhere since I don't have clickers), and wait time especially. I typically use a combination of think/ink-pair-share or turn and talk and then cold call (random or based on overheard conversations). That way students all have something to contribute as we share out whole class. I also use individual whiteboards if I want a quicker response than I can get from poll everywhere. I've linked also to a video on a neat exit ticket (StopLight Exit Ticket) that I think I will try in the fall. Text What you learned: I think the key to formative assessment is crafting the best questions and then listening, listening,probing, and listening more. So much of formative assessment is just getting into their thinking by making that thinking visible.

Susan Moore Susan Moore 50 Points

Hi all, My kids love Commit and Toss. You have to be careful not to over use it and set down the guide lines so that things don't get out of hand but I haven't ever had that problem. I ask kids to put their names on the papers so that they have ownership in their response and then have them cut them off before tossing. I have had kids write to the author of the paper to say why/why not they agree with the explanation. Try it, you will get a positive response I bet.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92246 Points

Thanks for sharing your success with that particular FACT, Susan. What a cute grand baby, too. Are there other FACTS that are being used in classrooms that can be shared here? We would love to hear about them. Thanks, Carolyn

Breanna Woods Breanna Woods 130 Points

I did an assessment as to what was living with a group of 3 1st graders all age six. Student 1 said that a seed in not living because it is a seed. A worm is living because it is an animal. A baby is living because it is a person, a cow is living because it is an animal. A car is not living because it is a thing you drive, grass is not living because it's a plant and a rock is not living because its not a person. Student 2 said a seed is not living because you have to plant it. A worm is living because its lives in dirt. A baby is living because its live in a house and drinks milk. A cow is living because it lives on a farm and makes milk. A car is not living because you drive it. Grass is not living because the worm eats it. A rock is not living because you put them in fish bowls. Student 3 said a seed is not living because nobody planted it yet. A worm is living because people take care of them. A baby is living because people take care of them. A cow is living because people feeds it. A car is not living because it doesn't need anything other than gas. Grass is not living because people step on it and kill it. Rocks are not living because people step on them. -Breanna Woods

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92246 Points

Hi Breanna,
What interesting responses from your students! You might be interested in trying Page Keeley's probe called 'Is it Living?'
Depending on the student responses, the teacher is better able to determine what misconceptions each of his/her students might have.
Ms. Keeley has other probes on Life Science as well.

Yolanda Smith-Evans Yolanda Smith-Evans 6425 Points

Thanks for posting the links for the two stop light strategy and the teaching channel. These are great resources I can add to my collection and share with my teachers. Yolanda

Chelsea Bender Chelsea Bender 1295 Points

Thanks for all the ideas. I like the one minute paper idea. My students are full of opinions and that would give them a moment to express them. :)

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92246 Points

You all have shared some great FACTS so far. Thanks! Wendy mentioned that she likes polls and some of you have clickers to use for this purpose. What do others do if clickers are not available? I have used the individual white boards on occasion. I also use a variety of different hand signals. Thumb up, thumb down, fist or pointer finger, hands open or fists, etc., for students to show their responses. I also like it when they are asked to do it so that only I can see their responses - in front of their hearts. That way they are not embarrassed if they discover they are off base on a response. Other ideas?

Ann Campbell Ann Campbell 755 Points

Before I had access to technology to give quick assessments or polls, I used the American Sign Language alphabet. A simple example (not science related) would be like: "What is your favorite Halloween treat?" Choices would be tootsie rolls, Reese's, nerds, starburst. I'd quickly teach them the four letters t,r, n, and s. They hold up the letter on their choice. Another thing I used to do was put heavy stock paper in page protectors and kids would use wipe off markers to answer and hold up for me to scan.

Erin Eckholt Erin Eckholt 545 Points

Oh my such great ideas! I really don't have any to add that you haven't shared. I have Page's book and use it all the time for ideas. I will definitely check out the other sources mentioned. Following this post.

Page Keeley Page Keeley 4700 Points

Hello All, I have started a "Formative Assessment Tip of the Month" on my Uncovering Student Ideas Web Site web site: Check out this month's tip for a quick, anonymous strategy- "Fingers Under Chin". Make sure you check it out each month as they won't be archived, once the new one goes up. I will also announce when a new tip is available through Twitter @CTSKeeley Enjoy!

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92246 Points

Thanks, Page! I look forward to it!!! Carolyn

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

Thanks Page, I too will be looking forward to the tip. I love the fact the tips are downloadable. I am also really excited to see the footnote that FACTS 2 will be available in the Fall of 2014. May’s tip, “Fingers Under the Chin,” is an interesting concept. I am wondering how well it works with middle school students. I know it is workable, I am just not sure how receptive my Design and Engineering students would be to it. I imagine it would be all in how it is introduced. I can see a definite use in elementary school. I would be curious to hear how others use the idea in middle school.

Amatulmuid Anderson Amatulmuid Anderson 1295 Points

In the science objects you will get some nice, quick formative assessment questions. Look at the various assessments , formative and sumative.

Jenny Hwang Jenny Hwang 4755 Points

I got here through another thread that had a link to this discussion. Thank you for sharing all of your ideas and FACTs. I am student teaching at the moment, but I hope I'll be able to incorporate some of these once I am in my own classroom.

Marelis Rivera Marelis Rivera 2365 Points

I LOVE Page Keeley's books. I use them all of the time! Recently one FACT that I used in my classroom was something that I called a Two by Two. I gave my students an index card and had them fold in half. One the left side they were to summarize the lesson in TWO sentences and on the other, they summarized it in two words. This was a great exercise for them in being careful with their word choice because they very limited parameters for their summaries. It was interesting to see which students grasped the lesson very well- they had the best two word summaries!

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92246 Points

That's an excellent one, Marelis. I had not heard of that one before. Thanks to you and so many others who continue to share their great ideas and ways they are using FACTs in the classroom! Carolyn

Brianna Kendrick Brianna Kendrick 375 Points

I LOVE this idea! So simple but such good assessment material!

Taylor Hurd Taylor Hurd 480 Points

This is blog has so many great ideas. I have never heard of card sorts before, but I would love to try them with my students. I will use these strategies in my classroom for sure one day. 

Jennifer Dial Jenn Dial 965 Points

I am a pre-service teacher looking for different assessment ideas. There are lots of great ideas shared in this thread. Thanks all for sharing!! I will be following. Can't wait to try some of the ideas!!

Page Keeley Page Keeley 4700 Points

Going to NSTA in LA in a couple weeks? Joyce Tugel and I will be presenting a full day PLI on using the Uncovering Student Ideas in Science formative assessment probes and formative assessment classroom techniques (FACTs) to support 3-D formative assessment and learning. hope you will join us for a deep dive to see how these powerful resources can link disciplinary content to scientific practices and crosscutting concepts through elicitation of both students' pre-existing ideas, developing ideas, and evidence of scientific understanding throughout an instructional cycle. Using Dylan William's 5 strategies for formative assessment, we will share techniques for implementing those overarching formative assessment strategies while simultaneously supporting 3-D teaching and learning with the probes and FACTs. There is still time to register for this in-depth session. We are looking forward to seeing some of you at our PLI as well as at our conference sessions!

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92369 Points

This is a great thread for formative assessment and using it to guide our teaching!

Chloe Nanos Chloe Nanos 220 Points

One of my favorite forms of formative assessment is creating and using a kahoot quiz in the classroom. This type of assessment really gets students excited and brings out their competitive side. This is a great way to have fun and still track how well students have retained the information that we are teaching.

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