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Make Math Moments Academy Forums Community Discussion Water Cooler Long-term planners & formative assessment

  • Long-term planners & formative assessment

    Posted by Patrick Kosal on January 21, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    I’m coaching some veteran middle school math teachers that are entirely planned out for the remainder of the school year. We’re talking warm ups, class notes, activities, homework, and assessments all pre-made and done for each and every school day until June. 

    As an instructional coach, I find it hard to see how these teachers are effectively using formative assessment to best address student needs and gaps. Shouldn’t teachers be providing more opportunities for kids to show what they know more frequently so they can adjust instruction, instead of just plowing ahead with the curriculum to proudly “get done” with the content?

    Any guidance in this area? How have you helped teachers see the value in frequent formative assessments (even informally) and adjusting instruction to fit learner needs?

    Thanks for any feedback / ideas you can provide!


    Mary Manske replied 3 years, 2 months ago 3 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • Kyle Pearce

    January 22, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Hi Patrick-Kosal!

    This is a tough scenario.

    Out of curiosity, is it “tradition” keeping them so “paced” or is it admin? … district? 

  • Patrick Kosal

    January 22, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    Definitely tradition, along with their familiarity in using a consistent curriculum. Admin actually came to me with this concern, initially. School leadership want these teachers looking at student data in order to make adjustments to lessons / remediation. I’ve been asked to look into the issue.

  • Mary Manske

    January 26, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    I’m trying to be very contrary over here (and I basically answered the rest of this half as me and half as contrary-me, sorry its confusing). My team has full year plans (pretty thorough, unit plans and assessments, which include materials). We are still flexible and responsive within that, to varying degrees–and our assessments are always the same, on the same day. So we are those prepared people, but we are not resistant or inflexible–we know our admin considers us one of the strongest teams in the building, and we feel that we are. 

    I’m thinking of my own attitude about some of the summative (?) assessments or pre-assessments I am required to give. 

    I’m all in on things I want to do and I’m very crabby on something I think is dumb/doesn’t have value. I’ll come from the assumption that this is latter. My attitude would be: I’m doing a good job, these are solid plans, we’ve spent a long time making them, and I don’t need to reinvent a wheel. I know what they will & won’t know/get and I need to make sure I get through the material. (And also, I don’t know HOW I would adjust instruction in the event that what I was doing isn’t working, TBH.) 

    I’m trying to think of how you can show that 

    a) formative assessment has value 

    b) adjusting their schedule is realistic

    What ways have you tried for them to add in very easy and small formative assessment? What about formative assessment has value and how can that be portrayed on the smallest level possible? I think formative assessment is a fine idea but 

    1. I don’t know how to do it

    2. What I do understand of it seems time consuming

    3. I can’t/don’t want to/don’t understand how to keep track of/use that data

    4. And even if I could…I’m not rewriting a lesson the day before, that stresses me out

    Are they doing any formative assessment? Do they have exit tickets? I used to use an exit slip blank with six boxes per side, blanks for the date and three different smiley faces. I would put up a question(s), they would fill in the date, answer the prompt/question/whatever in the box, and circle the face. After they left I sorted by level of understanding. 4 piles, correct, minor mistake, some knowledge, no idea/didn’t attempt. Then I’d check out the smiley faces. That gave me a lot of information–great, half the class totally has this…but no one feels good about it. Kids with everything correct all giving me not sure or frowns? Good to know, tomorrow I want to make sure to encourage them because they understand more than they think they do. A whole bunch of happy people who have no idea what they’re doing? Figure out a new approach to this tomorrow. 

    I did not track it. I did not record it. It didn’t take a ton of time, but it did give me a good insight into where they were AND where they thought they were. I didn’t usually need to adjust tomorrow’s whole lesson from it–I was often right about what they would and wouldn’t get, and I bet thats part of what they are thinking.

    Something small and simple like that builds the habit, which is the first step, and it takes care of the time consuming issue too. I wouldn’t talk about using it at all until they actually start getting the data. 

    <font face=”inherit”>If we weren’t doing any formative </font>assessment and you told us to, I could definitely see asking where exactly those extra days would go/what they would tell us that we didn’t already know/what time I would use to do it in. I don’t know what their dynamic is, but I wonder if there is also some fear of breaking the team. That’s something I’m struggling with personally–I know anything I can do alone, no matter the value, is not as good as something that has all of us in it and behind it. Are any of them interested? Could it be a few people who are really resistant and others who don’t want to rock the boat?

    I know that its possible to adjust and still stay “on track”–we all do it. We meet weekly, so we discuss how things went, what’s coming up and adjustments we need to make. One member of our team takes the most impressive formative assessment data you have ever seen, is constantly adjusting, and remains on pace with the rest of us (at least one item per day, color coded, summarized, and cross referenced). I think that message–that it won’t break everything they know–is more important than the part where they may need to break some of it. I’ve been going particularly rogue this year, and its fine. Adjusting instruction might seem to them really scary and uncertain.

    Sorry that was long. I’m fine with pushback about our plans so if that’s helpful to talk out I’m here for it.