Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 08:46 a.m.

    The analogy from The Hunt for Red October was effective. How have teachers responded to it?

    Also, as a field, I think we’ve had more success helping teachers learn how to do formative assessment than helping them know how to use results to shape subsequent instruction. How has the project addressed this challenge?

  • Icon for: Erin Furtak

    Erin Furtak

    Presenter
    May 11, 2015 | 12:17 p.m.

    Teachers have in general responded well to it, particularly in helping them think through the value of slowing down and picking up information rather than continuing ahead with the curriculum. We dedicated time – and developed tools – to support teachers in anticipating how students might respond to the assessments they were developing, and then to think of what we called ‘feedback strategies’ in advance of using the assessments with their students. The learning progression was also helpful in this regard, as it represented to teachers how ideas were related to each other. We are in the process (today, actually!) of looking at classroom videos to see how teachers used these feedback strategies with students.

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 08:58 a.m.

    Thank you, Erin. That’s really helpful. I can see how the learning progression would help teachers know what to do with the feedback they’re getting from students. I’m looking forward to hearing what you learn from the videos. Any preliminary insights?

  • Icon for: Davida Fischman

    Davida Fischman

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 12:31 p.m.

    Very effective analogy indeed.

    The formative assessment cycle looks as though it should be helpful to teachers in moving forward beyond project-facilitated work – do you have reports of teachers working through the cycle independently of the project?

  • Icon for: Erin Furtak

    Erin Furtak

    Presenter
    May 11, 2015 | 06:05 p.m.

    I have informal reports of teachers at two of our partner schools using the cycle to plan units in other content areas. They all have noted that going through this process has fundamentally changed the way they plan curriculum and assessments in their science classes.

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    Colleen Murray

    Guest
    May 11, 2015 | 03:50 p.m.

    I am interested in using this but am not sure how I would implement in my district. I would love to learn more.

  • Icon for: Erin Furtak

    Erin Furtak

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 03:46 p.m.

    I have an article about how to engage in the formative assessment design cycle under review, and would be happy to share with you, and to get your suggestions and feedback! Please contact me at erin.furtak@colorado.edu and I would be happy to send it your way.

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    Erin Ranum

    Guest
    May 11, 2015 | 09:16 p.m.

    Love the analogy! Our school has been focusing a lot on setting clear learning targets, providing thoughtful feedback that connects to the learning target and success criteria, and of course using ongoing formative assessment opportunities to determine students needs and understanding. Very powerful!! Glad to see this is being utilized at the high school level as well!

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 11:43 p.m.

    I am really impressed by what you and your team are doing. I am a pilot instructor for the pilot AP Computer Science Principles course, and am really interested in applying your formative assessment design on this course. I really would like to know what my students have learned by the end of the lesson, and your design for creating an effective and efficient formative assessment on a daily basis. Can you further elaborate about the evidence that you have collected that clearly demonstrates impact this model has on teaching and learning and how teachers work collaboratively to create such formative assessments? Thank you again; really great project!

  • Icon for: Erin Furtak

    Erin Furtak

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 03:50 p.m.

    Given the design of our study, we can’t make causal inferences; however, our papers that we presented at NARST and AERA this year provide more evidence in the form of teacher interviews, teacher sorting of student ideas, classtime dedicated to formative assessment enactment, and quality of teacher-created assessment activities. We also present our results of student learning. To date, we see the strongest positive associations between teachers’ quality of assessment activities and their ability to sort student ideas with student achievement. We also have been looking at professional development videos, and have noted the ways in which teachers participated in each step of the design cycle. Please check the AERA paper repository and my profile on ResearchGate for full-text versions of those papers.

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 11:26 a.m.

    Thank you Erin for your reply. I really appreciate it and will read your papers.

  • Icon for: Kathy Perkins

    Kathy Perkins

    Director
    May 12, 2015 | 01:11 a.m.

    Agreed – nice analogy! It’s great work, and encouraging to hear that some teachers are applying these ideas outside of the specific areas where you are providing assessments. Based on your work, do you have ideas for effective ways to help even more teachers practice using formative assessment and your model? Do you see your approaches scaling?
    I look forward to hearing about the outcomes of the video classroom observations!

  • Icon for: Erin Furtak

    Erin Furtak

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 03:52 p.m.

    Kathy, I’m currently in the first year of a research-practice partnership (with NSF support) in which we are adopting this model at the scale of all the secondary science teachers in a district. We don’t have preliminary results yet, but the work certainly looks and feels different when we’re doing in with rooms of teachers, and using those interactions to guide school-based PLC work, as compared to working with the one-facilitator, one-school-at-a-time approach that we used for Elevate.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 02:51 p.m.

    I also like your analogy a lot. And I like the results you show at the very end of the video. I wish it had gone on longer. I’d also, like Arthur, like to know more and know more detail about how to go from teachers learning to slow down and moving towards better formative assessment in their classrooms to the habits they form (as Arthur said, how they are doing all this on a daily basis). I don’t know if you have gotten that far or not, but I would think your ultimate goals would be (1) to find ways to systematize what you’ve been doing so that your ways of helping teachers learn can be put in place broadly, and (2) learning how to go beyond the hard work of learning to do these things towards teachers designing and engaging in formative assessments on a regular basis and in a way that gets learners involved, too, in assessing themselves. I realize that wasn’t a question; what I’m looking for is to know what you’ve thought about these things and to push you to think about them if you haven’t. ;-)

  • Icon for: Erin Furtak

    Erin Furtak

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 05:35 p.m.

    Janet, thank you for these thoughtful comments – I have always hypothesized that the practices and design criteria teachers learn about in our professional development model develop ‘long arms,’ so to speak, and extend into their everyday classroom practices. We certainly have teacher self-report data from interviews to support this, but we have not collected data outside the natural selection unit that was the focus of this study.

    As for your thoughts about the ultimate goals:
    (1) I am currently four months into a new research-practice partnership with an entire school district where we are trying to take this model to scale to coordinate teachers’ assessment design work, and their interpretation of data, across multiple instructional communities (school-based PLCs, whole-district late-start meetings, and instructional leader meetings). The model is certainly having to be adapted in terms of our work as facilitators of the learning, and the tools and resources my team developed around the design cycle are being modified and adapted for this new context.
    2) My hope is that teachers do learn to design and engage in formative assessments on a regular basis; in effect, going through this cycle in more of a ‘rapid prototyping’ format rather than over an entire school year, as we did in the study. This has been challenging as teachers’ timelines are so short, and designing (or even locating and adapting) high-quality formative assessment tools takes time. As for involving students in assessing themselves, this is one of the criteria we are hoping to take up with teachers when they look at an assessment and consider whether it will be a good formative activity.

    I’m glad to see that your comments are in line with where I’m taking this work! I’d love to talk with you more about how to continue to extend our work in these important directions.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 10:50 a.m.

    You write about hopes, but I hope that this new project will help you learn how to get beyond hopes, that one of your goals will be to understand what it takes (beyond what you have in place now) so that teachers will become adept at putting formative assessments in place in the moment and learning from them so as to adapt their facilitation, teaching, and mentoring. I’m really interested in what it takes, beyond hope, to foster new habits of mind and gain competency and flexibilty in using them — a really important research question whos answer you may be able to shed light on!!!

  • Icon for: Erin Furtak

    Erin Furtak

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 11:11 a.m.

    Great point, Janet, about my use of the ‘hope’ language. Fortunately, as part of the Elevate project (featured in the video), we are conducting an in-depth FOI study of all the professional development videotapes to look for similarities and differences across participation in the PD, and then we will link that with classroom enactment and student learning as a way of pulling out design criteria/features of the professional development (e.g. facilitation, tools intended to scaffold teacher learning) that seemed to support teacher enactment of formative assessment. In the new study, we have the fortunate opportunity to work with several in-place PLCs, and I intend to look across these sites to look at, as you say, “what it takes…to foster new habits of mind and gain competency and flexibility in using them.” I am learning from and enjoying this challenging conversation!

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 11:31 a.m.

    Janet, I really am learning a lot from the conversation between Janet and yourself. If you need another teacher to participate in your study, let me know. I would be very interested in learning and applying the assessment design! Of course, I understand if this is not possible, but I figure it does not hurt to ask! Thanks again Erin, and looking forward to reading more about your research and application of the formative assessment design.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

Icon for: Erin Furtak

ERIN FURTAK

Elevate
University of Colorado Boulder

Supporting Teachers' Formative Assessment Design and Enactment Through Long-Term Professional Development: Results of a Multiple-Year Study
NSF Award #: 0953375

This video gives an overview of the Formative Assessment Design Cycle, a five-step approach that teacher learning communities can follow as they explore student thinking, design formative assessment tools, practice using those tools, enact them in their classrooms, and then gather together to determine next steps for instruction. The video then summarizes results of a four-year research study in which teachers at three partner schools engaged with the Formative Assessment Design Cycle while teaching about natural selection. In this study, teachers worked iteratively with a learning progression for natural selection to underlie their design and enactment of formative assessments, and we then return to that learning progression to explore results of student learning.