I really enjoyed Dylan Wiliam’s presentation on Wednesday and we have been very lucky to have all our teaching staff see him at the same time. It gives us a rare opportunity as a teachers to discuss formative assessment and how it can be done better at PBAS in a way that had only 3 or 4 attended would not be possible.
Some of the things that I got out of the day that were new or reinforced beliefs I held included:
- It was great to hear Dylan acknowledge how hard the teaching “game” is and how no one ever perfects it.
- Pedagogy trumps curriculum every time.
- Focus on the things that matter.
- We fail all the time and that’s ok as long as we avoid repeating mistakes and strive to improve.
- We should worry about growth mind set in teachers. There is no place for teachers who think they can’t get better.
- Formative assessment is most effective when it is used every day in every lesson (at least once every 20 minutes).
- Always ensure students understand the learning intention and direction of the lesson.
- Planning questions is important and using statements rather than questions can promote deeper responses.
- Dumbing things down does not help our students.
- Questioning should cause one of two things or both: 1. The student to think and 2. produce data that informs teaching.
- Hard work and practice can trump talent.
- Grades do not contribute to improved learning.
- Comments do contribute to improved learning.
- Combining grades and comments do not contribute to improved learning. Once a grade is seen the comment is ignored.
- A great range of strategies to improve formative assessment.
Now that we have heard Dylan Wiliam’s research and classroom strategies and have his book as a resource we should discuss the “where to now?”.
Proposal – Formative assessment
My initial reaction is to take on formative assessment as a focus for 2014 (and maybe 2015). When I say focus I mean as part of our personal development plans where every teacher commits to improving an aspect of formative assessment. Team meetings will provide time to discuss formative assessment and allow staff to share what they are doing in terms of improving formative assessment in their classroom. I also believe there is plenty of scope for choice within formative assessment for teachers to select what they think will help improve their teaching and student learning.
My proposal is that all teaching staff select at least one strategy around formative assessment to put into their performance development plan.
Formative Assessment also allows us to engage in sections of TfEL and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers as well as giving focus to classroom observations if a teacher chooses.
How does Formative Assessment link with TfEL and Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
By focusing on formative assessment we will also be covering part of TfEL Domain 2, Element 2.4 and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers Standard 5.1 and 5.2.
TfEL: Domain 2 Create Safe Conditions for Rigorous Learning
Element 2.4 Challenge students to achieve high standards with appropriate support.
- (Teacher) Teach students how to seek feedback and offer timely feedback to move their learning forward.
- (Teacher) Engineer learning conversations that extend students thinking.
- (Student) Look forward to getting feedback from others to help take the next step.
Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: Standard 5 Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
I have only included the Proficent and Highly Accomplished levels below. To view Graduate and Lead descriptors go to the AITSL page at the top of the blog.
5.1 Assess student learning
Develop, select and use informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative assessment strategies to assess student learning.
Develop and apply a comprehensive range of assessment strategies to diagnose learning needs, comply with curriculum requirements and support colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of their approaches to assessment.
5.2 Provide feedback to students on their learning
Provide timely, effective and appropriate feedback to students about their achievement relative to their learning goals.
Select from an effective range of strategies to provide targeted feedback based on informed and timely judgements of each student’s current needs in order to progress learning.
I believe it is important that all teaching staff who attended the day contribute a comment about where we should go now with Dylan Wiliam’s work. What are your opinions/thoughts around PD, classroom observations, TfEL and the Australian Professional Standards and using formative assessment to tie them all together? Can we make this work?