For the Love of Feedback

Every teacher with more than a weeks experience is brutally aware of how crucial formative assessment is to ensuring students are learning in your classroom. However in my first term as a teacher I felt like I was drowning under the weight of formative assessments that I had been generating in my classroom. So I began to ponder, how do great teachers stay on top of formative assessment? How can I assess my students frequently without generating hours of work for myself? (Hours that good teachers don’t have).

 

For assessment to concentrate on student growth the feedback needs to be given as immediately as possible. The further students are from the assessment, the less invested they are in the feedback. So after a week of careful contemplation, here are my top 5 fast feedback methods;

 

1. Technology assisted feedback

Use some quick warm up questions to be answered on a technology platform like Google forms which collect responses instantaneously (depending on your internet connection) and provide instant statistics. For Google forms student results and trends can be illustrated with the Add-on Flubaroo. I find this invaluable to identifying weaknesses and misconceptions at the beginning of the lesson before I try to build on a shaky foundation. I can adjust the lesson to address misconceptions before building on them.

 

2. Entry and exit slips

On technology or paper, entry and exit slips provide me snapshots into student understanding each lesson. Downside, there is a day delay unless done via technology. For differentiated instruction each entry or exit slip contains choices like a menu. The choices are colour coded based on their difficulty. Students are encouraged to attempt the red questions if they are feeling confident or if they keep getting the orange questions correct.

 

3. Eyes down thumbs up

A method of gauging student confidence about a topic. Thumbs up for “I get this”, sideways for “Im okay but I might need some help” and thumbs down for “I don’t get this yet”.

 

4. Think-pair-share

Students ponder an application question for several minutes before pairing up with a partner and refining their solution. After a suitable amount of time either pairs may pair into fours or the pairs may present their solution or part of their solution to the question to the class. Many variations of this technique exist. One of my classes is a “Performance class” and love applying their skills to summarising mathematical concepts or solving problems creatively.

5. Whiteboards

A tried yet proven method where students display answers on their mini whiteboards and holding them up to show the teacher. The simplicity of this form of assessment does not cheapen its effectiveness.

 

I encourage you to think about how you formatively assess your students. Have a try of some of the techniques above and let me know how they work for you. Also if you use any different techniques let me know! What are your top 5?

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