Delve deeper into what formative assessment really means for you and your students
In 2016, Dylan Wiliam sent the following tweet: “Example of a really big mistake: calling formative assessment 'formative assessment', rather than something like “responsive teaching”.
I like this phrase, as for me formative assessment is all about responding in the moment. It is not about grades, marking, written feedback or formal assessments. It is about gathering as much accurate information about our students’ understanding as efficiently as possible, and making decisions based on that. In short, it is about adapting our teaching to meet the needs of our students.
In his section on 'Checking for Understanding' in Teach Like Champion 2.0, Doug Lemov argues that the most crucial task of teaching is to distinguish “I taught it” from “they learned it”. One of Rosenshine’s (2012) Principles of Instruction is check for student understanding. Rosenshine explains, “the more effective teachers frequently checked to see if all the students were learning the new material. These checks provided some of the processing needed to move new learning into long-term memory. These checks also let teachers know if students were developing misconceptions.”
Indeed, without formative assessment, we are left ignorant to what are students know, and whether or not what we are doing as teachers is helping - or indeed, hindering - them. In short, teaching without formative assessment is like painting with your eyes closed.
Fortunately, the incredibly talented TES Maths authors have provided a whole host of resources to help with your formative assessment needs, so we can all have our eyes open wide.