As I look back and reflect on blogs, class discussion and reading from the Formative Reflection class, I feel it has opened my mind to use assessment differently in my classroom and engage students to be owners of their own learning.
In my past teaching I really didn’t use formative assessment to organize or gage my curriculum. I used daily work or homework as practice but graded the assignment in my grade book as daily work. Then after completion of daily work I had chapter or unit tests then moved on to the next unit. Not really taking in to account what concepts my students were having trouble with. If they did well on their daily work they should know the concepts and pass the tests. But what about those students who didn’t do well on their daily work did they just not do it or truly don’t understand the concepts. Also you may have students who did fine on their daily work, but did they complete it independently or help from a friend.
Currently I have used my daily work as practice and use formative assessment strategies in my classroom to gage how my students are understanding concepts. I do not grade these assessments they are simply practice of the knowledge taught in the unit. I organize my curriculum by results that I have obtained from the formative assessments. This change is not easy. To be honest it was a lot easier teaching my old way; teach, daily work, test, and move on. I do realize that I was not reaching all my students and many failing students were not failing because they didn’t know the concepts but just didn’t do the work. So you may call this “The Great Awakening”. How do I really know if my students are grasping the concepts taught? Formative assessment has helped guide me through this change or enlightenment. Not necessarily doing formative assessment, which I always did, but using the formative assessment results to help me become a better teacher.
I have to admit that I have not totally accepted the whole No Homework, Formative Assessment model but it has opened my eyes to adjusting my teaching methods. I feel there is always room for change and advancement in the classroom, and taking a risk and climb out of our comfort box and try new ideas. I see the benefit but in a typical school structure the resources are not available to fulfill all steps of Formative Assessment. Scheduling, teacher aides and classrooms to help with the results of formative Assessment are difficult to provide. Formative Assessment strategies do have an active role in the classroom and their results can help teachers activate students and help them become owners of their own learning.