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Keeping Up with Young Adult Literature

Formative Assessment That Truly Informs Instruction

"Teachers and schools assess students in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons -- from the broad categories of sorting, ranking, and judging to the more nuanced purposes of determining specific levels of student understanding, restructuring curricula to meet student needs, and differentiating instruction among students."

This quote is from the new NCTE position statement, "Formative Assessment That Truly Informs Instruction." Shared in the new statement are tools and strategies of formative assessment, including Observations, Conversations, Student Self-Evaluations, and Artifacts of Learning. The following resources from NCTE and provide further examples of teacher-based formative assessments.

Careful observation is the foundation of a teacher's assessment work. One strategy is kidwatching. Yetta Goodman popularized the term kidwatching, the practice of "watching kids with a knowledgeable head."

  • This strategy guide shares how to use kidwatching to track and support student learning. Teachers observe and take notes on students' understanding of skills and concepts and then use the observations to determine effective strategies for future instruction.
  • See also "Establishing a Kidwatching Stance," from the NCLE Literacy in Learning Exchange, that includes an excerpt from Goodman's book Valuing Language Study: Inquiry into Language for Elementary and Middle Schools and an article, "The Habit of Kidwatching," by Timothy O'Keefe.

Based on questions they have about student learning, teachers might specifically ask students for further information by conducting surveys, interviews, or conferences.

  • In this On-Demand Web Seminar, Beth L. Hewett shares and demonstrates five key asynchronous conferencing strategies that some online instructors are finding to be foundational for changing their comments and textual interactions with students. These strategies are being adopted by online instructors across the country and used in both online and face-to-face tutoring and teaching venues.

Student Self-Evaluations
An important component of formative assessment, student self-evaluations are deliberate efforts to elicit student perspectives on their own learning.

  • This strategy guide introduces the concept of using exit slips in the classroom to help students reflect on what they have learned and express what or how they are thinking about the new information. Templates of exit slips are provided.

Artifacts of Learning
Working alone or, preferably, with others, teachers review data about individual students or groups of students for the purpose of planning future learning experiences.

Talk about it!
What are some of the assessment strategies you use with your students?  Tell us in the comments section below!

-- Lisa Fink, ReadWriteThink




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A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts