Formative assessment in mathematics is especially important to me as I plan how and when to teach the content. As I mentioned before, observation is absolutely essential in providing me information about what students are thinking, misconceptions that need addressed, which students need to be challenged and which students need support, and where to proceed in my instruction.
To learn more about my study on Formative Assessment in Math, view my S.M.A.R.T goal research from my James Madison University coursework.
Usually when we think of assessment we automatically link it to "testing". However, my plan for assessment is to be creative using a variety of formative assessment strategies.
What is formative assessment? (informal)
Formative assessment is the process of observing and collecting quantitative and qualitative data over time to develop understanding about how each child is progressing academically.
Some formative assessment strategies may feel like a game or activity to the children, while simultaneously providing valuable information to me about what students have learned as a whole, where students need more scaffolding and support, and where instruction should go next. By putting an emphasis on observation through formative assessment, I can be more flexible in planning my instruction to specifically meet the needs of my students.
Summative Assessment (formal)
Summative Assessment represents the Spelling, PALs, end of unit, and SOL tests. These tests provide quantitative data about a child's independent understanding. It is important to remember that these tests do not measure the students' intelligence, they simply provide the student an opportunity to show what they have learned. This data is helpful to the State as they help construct curriculum and standards, teachers as they transition between units, and students as they learn test taking skills and build retention.
This book has helped me become more creative in my formative assessment strategies. The ideas presented are useful not only for science, but for other assessment opportunities in other content areas.
Formative Assessment Example
One formative assessment strategy I like to use is called Four Corners. In this activity I will ask students a question and they will go to the corner that matches their answer. Then, as we discuss the question some students have the opportunity to share why they chose that answer, and other less comfortable sharing can still provide me with valuable feedback simply by choosing a corner. After this assessment I have an idea what topics students have mastered and what topics needs more instruction and practice.
Because this assessment is structured as an active game, students don't experience the anxiety of testing and feel safe to answer the questions with confidence and honesty.