Formative assessment is forefront on my mind this year. Last year I was continually ebbing through a large amount of summative assessment which really made my life difficult and stressful and I think culminated in some of the hip and back issues that I had over the course of sitting and watching/grading over 500 student assessment films throughout the year (as well as all the paper work and the uploading of these grades to the ISIS program our school uses). I have looked at how I am going to do that over this year and how to track this information – I have a colleague who is very big on using formative assessment as a performance grade. After discussion and thinking about this I have for our swimming and invasion games units that we will create a google spreadsheet that has the skills we are looking for and as we see them or as the students work on their skills we will sit and watch and assess every lesson. We are creating lessons based on this theory and so far it has been a huge pay off for us in many ways. I already know which students are up to certain levels and as I see more progression I can add to my existing spreadsheet. This is not rocket science, but it is a change to the trend of creating the spreadsheet the week before assessment when the students have reached the culmination of all their skill work and starting to play games. I have seen some huge progression in some of my weaker students as they are able to move through these skills and it is uplifting and confidence building at the same time.
I am working on how to use google spreadsheets to ‘see’ the progression – how do you make the spreadsheet show that the student has progressed to level 3 rather than starting there, so I am also experimenting with conditional formatting to show this progression. I love using google docs as it allows me to use the ipad on the court to add instant change to my formative assessment and I can then go to my tablet and type in the notes I need to after class.
To back up some of this work, I am using guiding questions/ideas for each week and having the students blog about these ideas to reinforce their thinking and this has also really been beneficial. I have been giving them key language to think about and we have started differentiating the blog to allow for open ended discussion and also for different levels of students. An example can be seen here.
I am hoping that by spreading out the grading, I will not have a huge amount of summative assessment as we do a change of unit for all 5 classes about the same time and when we have parent-teacher conferences, I will have evidence of where students are up to and clear data to share with parents and students from week 2 rather than waiting to week 7 or 9.
Will update as the year unfolds.