Topic: General


But, I already know which of my students needs help!

When I work with teachers who are writing and using formative assessments in their instructional practices, they will sometimes tell me that while they understand how important formative assessment is, they also feel that they are wasting instructional time because they already know which of their students have learned the targets being assessed. They say that some students always need help, and others have asked questions during the instruction that show they don’t even have a basic understanding of the target being taught. For these students, they wonder why they should even give them the formative assessment. Read more


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Guiding Student Investment through Making Learning Clear

The idea of students investing in their learning is a sought after prospective for many educators. How do teachers set up the conditions for students to want to learn? How do we inspire students to take their next steps and learn more? How does this investment lead to high levels of achievement for all students? The answers may be simpler (not to be confused with easier) than we think. Read more


Observation and Assessment: If I Saw It, Does It Count?

The first step in gaining awareness is to pay attention to what’s going on. On the surface, this sounds simple enough. However, the devil is in the details. You must be intentional about looking for, and noticing, different components of your classroom. (Hall & Simeral, 2015, p. 52) Read more


Assessment and its Social Context

I recently read the following quote and thought it a great reminder as a new school year begins:

“…development and learning are primarily social processes, and learning cannot be separated from its social context.” (Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition, 2010 cited in Ruiz-Primo, 2010)

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Keeping Assessment Balanced: The Standardized Test Effect

August is the time of year when finalized standardized test scores are released to school districts and shortly thereafter shared publicly. It is a time for celebration, frustration, disappointment, and sometimes even a sense of panic or urgency that leads to questions such as, “What are we going to do? How do we share these with our community?” Read more



Returning to School: The “summer slide” and re-igniting a school-based culture of learning

A deeply held and widely shared belief in education is the “summer slide.” For nine months, teachers and students work tirelessly to build student achievement only to have it unravel over the summer. Upon returning to school, teacher conversations are laced with laments of the learning lost. This blog post is not an argument concerning the reality of the summer slide; rather, I am pondering why the idea of a summer slide makes me so uncomfortable. Read more


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Self-Assessment: Breaking the Praise-Compliance Cycle

I have been working with a teaching colleague in her first and second grade combined classroom for the last number of months. Together, we have been exploring ways to enhance young learners’ abilities to self-assess. Over a series of lessons, we have focused on inviting students to practice some of the sub-habits needed for self-assessment (I have outlined these habits in a previous blog post). This past week, we were working on the sub-habits of revisiting, revising, analyzing, and decision-making (all important parts of a strong self-assessment process).

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A Profound and Lasting Influence

Have you ever done a quick Google search of the word “formative”? I was inspired when I recently did and read, “serving to form something, especially having a profound and lasting influence on a person’s development.” What exactly is it that we are trying to form through our formative assessment processes? In my classroom, I hope to develop strong, capable learners who take charge of their learning, learn from mistakes, and develop a growth mindset. My hope is that they view assessments as a method of communication between us and see the value in making mistakes and growing from them. Read more