Formative assessment at Walford Anglican School for Girls | Video
Formative assessment is the practice of gathering and interpreting information about student learning as it is happening in your classroom. Kerri Proctor, Head of English at Walford Anglican School for Girls, uses different formative assessment methods to track student progress.
Kerri Proctor: Formative assessment means to me knowing exactly where my class is at in their learning journey. So knowing what skills they have, how their understanding is at this point in time, and what we need to do to move them forward in their journey. The student needs to know how they're going and why we're doing what we're doing and what they can do to improve and how they can actually add to their skills, add to their understanding.
The principles of formative assessment inform a practice by first of all setting low-stake tasks but really allowing students to have challenge. And it means that they can showcase their abilities, their skills, their knowledge, their understanding in a really non-threatening environment. We might have had an instructional lesson on poetry techniques. And what I might do is ask them to do a brain dump. And what that means it's just a blank piece of paper or a Post-it note and I ask them to write down in a timed situation, perhaps even two minutes, write down everything you can remember. But I'll be able to come back to that piece of paper and that will inform my teaching next.
Checking for students understanding is an ongoing process. I do that through classroom activities on a regular basis. That might be conferencing with each other. It might be a see, think, wonder activity. It might be an exit card. It might be just a conversation that I'm overhearing. It's actually going back to the learning intention and looking at have we progressed? What have we got? What have we learned today?
For example, in middle year's class and I wanted to revisit their understanding of literary devices and how that can help with visual imagery, sensory imagery. I might perhaps offer a visual prompt, maybe even a character, some questions to, again, prompt their thinking and imagination. Once they've done their writing, we can see where the gaps are, how many of them have used those literary devices, and what do I have to revisit in order to take them to the next step in their learning journey.
I provide timely feedback and I make that a priority in my teaching practice. Feedback has got to be prompt. It's got to be informative. It has to inform the student and myself about what they've done well, how they've done well, and what they need to target in order to improve. So getting them to personally reflect on what they've done really well, what areas need to improve, and getting them to bullet point those areas that need to be targeted. So it actually creates agency and it's their feedback and it's their job to move forward. It's not actually my job. They need to own it and take themselves forward and find out what they need to do.
The students love it. They love the non-threatening nature of formative assessment. It means they don't feel judged. It means that it's all, it's just part of your teaching practice. It's small, sharp, shiny little activities that really allow you to see where they're at at this point and what we need to do to move forward.