Reading this book has been one of the most transformative things that I’ve done this school year. Some of the things that I learned:
1. Don’t plan what you are going to teach without consideration of the student.
2. Formative assessment is more than a pretest and post test.
3. It’s okay to do different assessments for different students.
4. Use artifacts from what students are already doing or creating. It doesn’t need to be
5. Identify a strength, instead of a weakness, and tie learning possibilities to the
6. Help students identify and set their own goals.
7. Use tools, such as a Google Doc or Research Inventory that help to track progress
throughout a project.
8. Use the tools to collect data, by identifying strengths and possibilities.
9. Conferring with students is an effective way to address the specific goals and needs
of specific students.
10. Use conferring to link strategies to specific goals.
I love when a professional book opens my eyes and helps me see things differently. I highly recommend, The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook by Jennifer Serravallo, to anyone who wants to learn more about formative assessment. She will also be at the Literacy Connection Workshop on Saturday, April 18. Check the Literacy Connection website for additional information
Chapter 4 in The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook by Jennifer Serravallo is about creating an action plan. She reminds us to set SMART Goals.
Once again, I am trying to apply what I’ve leaned to the Media Center. This chapter talks about the benefits of conferring. I do not think that conferring is a common practice in the libraries. But I am going to give it a try. During library time when grade 4 groups are working on their research and designing media to share it, I will meet with each group. The purpose will be to learn about the students, establish and follow-up on goals, hold them accountable and offer guided practice with current work.
Chapter 3 in The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook by Jennifer Serravallo is about interpreting data and establishing goals. After looking at sample of everyday work to find strengths and opportunities for growth the next step is to define the goals.
Goal setting is important. I was excited to see a quote by Daniel Pink.
goals affect accomplishment – when we have a clear sense of what we want to accomplish, how we will attempt to accomplish it, and our deadline for accomplishing it, we are more likely to be motivated to succeed. Talking to the students about the goal and providing feedback will help them progress.
The more a person takes ownership of her own goals, the more likely it is that the goal will be accomplished. (Pink , 2011)
I am trying to figure out how this will look for the project that I am working on in the Media Center. My thinking is that after I have collected and analyzed data and determined possibilities for growth, I can meet with individuals or groups to have a Goal setting conference. Serrvallo says these aren’t long drawn out meeting, but more of a touch base short meeting.
Explain to students that together you are going to set goals. I’ve revised some of Serravallo’s goal setting questions that she uses when conferring to fit my circumstance. (p. 106)
. What are some things you notice about your work?
. What is going well?
. What isn’t going well?
. What do you think would be a good goal?
. Some things I’ve noticed are…
She said it is extremely important to write the goal down.
Chapter 2 in The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook by Jennifer Serravallo is about analyzing the data and it was as insightful as Chapter 1. She suggests that in order to promote students you should begin by focusing on strengths not weaknesses. She said, “teaching possibilities comes from noticing something that is already a strength for the student.” This seems obvious and simple, but I am not sure how often it is practiced. Often times we are quick to point out what the student is doing wrong, instead of building on what they are already doing well.
As I mentioned in a previous post I am collaborating with a Grade 4 teacher as students work in groups on the project. They are using a Google Document shared with me and the members of the group. With access to the shared document, I will be able to easily collect data throughout the research process. This has become a wonderful tool to use. I will look at the Google doc to see if the information is relevant, accurate, and complete. I will look at the document to find strength and plan ways that I can help them. When students come into the library, I will be prepared to conference with individual groups.
I will also include a Research Inventory. I liked how Serravallo considered engagement to document interest in reading and writing and I plan to include it in my Research Inventory tool. The plan is to document my observation when I see the groups working in the library.
I also like how Serravallo uses a table to collect and analyze data. I used her thinking to create the following table to better fit my purpose.
Tool Strengths Possibilities for Growth
Research Inventory from my observations
Google Doc (Research)
Chapter 1 in Seravallo’s book is about Collecting Data. Even though the intended audience is classroom teachers, there are many practical ideas that I took away after reading it.
One of the most helpful suggestions is to look for artifacts from things that already exist. She said, teachers are likely able to find “data” from what students are already doing, such as reading logs, sticky notes from books, and writing samples. In my first attempt at implementing formative assessment, I was creating additional work, such as a survey, when all along I could have been looking at what students were already doing or creating to guide my instruction.
She also suggested that teachers view the artifacts through lenses to help them search for data. For example, the lenses for reading may include: 1) reading engagement, 2) reading fluency, 3) print work /decoding, 4) reading comprehension, and 5) conversation.
There are also lenses for writing which may include “Assessing Writing Engagement” and Assessing Qualities of Good Writing.” To collect data about writing engagement a teacher may look at how much students write, motivation to write and use of the writing process. Data for Qualities of Good Writing may include meaning, structure, organization, elaboration and conventions. For example, a lot of scaffolded learning must take place in order for students to conduct research and present their findings.
Seravallo’s description clarified and simplified the data collection process. My challenge is to apply this thinking to the media center. I decided to collect data from a collaborative project that I am working on with an amazing fourth grade teacher, Geri Keeley. Students are working in groups to create and research a question about Ohio History. They are using a shared Google (GAFE) document to collaborate. The finished project will include a question, an answer and multimedia (video, audio, pictures) that will be posted to our Ohio-opolis website.
Although this is technically a Social Studies project, I decided to incorporate and collect data related Common Core Language Arts standards because they lend themselves to the Media Center standards. In the past I would have looked at the standard and created a lesson to teach it. Now I will look at projects students are working on determine what they need to achieve the standard.
A few of the Common Core Language Arts Standards that we will cover are listed below:
Speaking and Listening
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or theme; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.
As I mentioned in a previous post, formative assessment is a school goal this year. Since I wanted to support it, I tried a few things earlier this year that I thought would count. I created a survey for grade 5 students before Google Apps for Education lessons. I had students complete “evidence notes” that were added to a board to document what they learned during the first trimester. I created a challenge to assess student’s ability follow new technology instructions.
There are a couple problems with these assessments. One is that I wasn’t really looking at the “data” that I collected. An even bigger issue was that I knew that assessment was supposed to inform instruction, but I didn’t really get how to transform what I learned into lesson plans.
Then one Saturday in October by Jennifer Serravallo spoke to the Literacy Connection group about formative assessments. According to Serravallo, there is a protocol that begins with studying student work, then establishing goals to begin consistent goal-directed instruction with students individually.
There are 4 steps in this process:
I. Collect data
II. Analyze data
III. Interpret data and establish goals
IV. Create an action plan.
In her book, she dedicates a chapter to each step. The examples that she talked and wrote about are more applicable to classroom teachers, but my hope is that I will be able to consider how to incorporate each of Serravallo’s formative assessment steps in the media center.
As I mentioned in my last post, I have had some difficulty incorporating formative assessment into my elementary media center. I have, however, noticed many educators that I respect are champions of using this type of assessment. This year it is one of our school goals and even a district goal. Still, I must admit, I haven’t been able to grasp why it is beneficial and how I will make it work in a media center environment. I have wondered if my time might be better spent focusing on learning new content, creating lessons, and collaborating with other teachers.
Then, when I read the introduction to the Literacy Teachers Playbook, something clicked. Serravallo recalled an experience she had as student teacher when she created a wonderful lesson and was given complimentary feedback from her instructor. She then went on to confess, that when creating that lesson she did not consider the needs of the students. She also admitted that she continued the practice of creating lessons without consideration of student’s needs for several more years. She said, “I didn’t understand the difference between assessing students to check up on understanding and assessing students to form my teaching plan.
This was an “aha” moment for me. Many of us can relate to planning what to teach without consideration for the needs of the students that we teach. Typically, I look at standards, create lessons, and present the information to students. And yet, often I am disappointed with the quality of student work whether it is a research project or a media project.
I am beginning to wonder if my lack of consideration for student needs contributes to the lack of quality. What would happen if I spent more time with individual students or small groups of students providing feedback about how to make the project better? In the past, I’ve used the excuse that I only have a little more than one hour per week with students. My thinking has shifted. Now I am thinking that since I have limited time, it is even more critical that I focus on what students need. Sometimes it is hard to give up lessons we like to teach, even if they are no longer needed or relevant to what the students need. But, I am starting to see that it is the right thing to do.
Reading the Introduction to this text, has helped begin to understand the potential and reason for using formative assessments. Formative Assessments help to ensure what is being taught addresses student need and ultimately helps them grow and learn. Additionally, formative assessments help teachers identify what they to focus on.