Let’s go back to the BIE planning form to look at the section that deals with assessments. You’ll notice that the section is divided into 2 parts: Formative Assessments and Summative Assesments. Before you can begin to plan for these types of assessments you need to understand the differences between them.
Formative assessments occur during the project. They occur at all the major stages of the project, such as during the research phase, the organizational stage, and at the point where the final product is being created. Usually these assessments are less formal and have a low level of stress attached to them. Sometimes the students don’t even know that an assessment is occurring. The main point of a formative assessment is to see how the learning is progressing and to enable the teacher to check for understanding.
For What’s Up With This Guy?, we used a variety of different formative assessments. When the kids were working in their groups, we just walked around listening. Yep, eavesdropping is a formative assessment. I find that it’s the most effective when I take anecdotal notes. Exit tickets are also a great way to take the pulse of the class. We use the Socrative app for this. Our kids did their research using the Inspiration mind mapping app. This allows us to look at their research and check for understanding. Each group practiced their Keynote presentation twice. While the other teacher and I listened to the presentations, we made notes on a post-it that included any concept questions (Can you explain how a stent opens the clogged artery?), listed any misspelled words, and made comments on their presentation manner (eye contact, posture, inflection). We also taught the kids how to use the note function within Keynote. Looking at these notes gave us a chance to check for understanding. We didn’t just want the kids to say that medication might be a treatment for coronary heart disease. The goal was to dig deeper and to be able to explain the purpose of the medication.
My next What’s Up With This Guy? post will deal with the final group presentations and our methods of summative assessment. In the meantime, you can click here for a list of formative assessments compiled by West Virginia’s Department of Education and here for a great article from Edutopia.