Effectively using the data that we gain from our assessments is always important, and perhaps never more so than right now. There is a reason that accurate interpretation is a tenet in the Solution Tree Assessment Center model, and it is certainly worth taking the time to explore. There are a few definitions of the word “interpret”; some focus on more artistic endeavors, while many others focus on the idea of explaining something. As educators, we must interpret things each and every day—from whether we will be able to accomplish everything in our lesson plan to whether our students are really understanding what we want them to know. We should strive to draw informed inferences in our work, recognizing that doing this requires professional knowledge, skill, and ongoing effort. Read more
Tagged: learning targets
Back to the Basics
Educators across the country are sharing how this school year was far more difficult than the previous two years during the pandemic. There have been many pivots (I know, I know . . . that is like a four-letter word), many shifts, and many concerns raised as students return to school and socialize with peers they have not seen for a long time. This was a year like no other. As it comes to an end, educators have an opportunity to take a breath and reflect on what worked well and areas in which to seek growth. There is also an opportunity to think about going back to the basics with assessment practices. The pace of the year had many teachers juggling way too many responsibilities; summer brings time to reflect and opportunities for collaboration. This time allows teams to dig into the skills and knowledge students struggled with the most and design formative and summative assessment practices that align with the standards. Read more
Rethinking Pre-assessment: A Pathway to Supporting Learning in the Fall
As we brace for the uncertainties of the fall, it will be important to be as prepared as possible—both for our sanity and our ultimate success. We must adopt a learning stance to find our way through the COVID-19 upheaval. We must find answers to the core questions that ground all learners:
Where are we going? Where are we now? And how can we bridge the gap between those two spaces? Read more
#Winning: Anticipating Errors as Preventative Instruction
I was recently working with a team to develop common formative assessments, and they were having some difficulty generating appropriate questions and tasks for the standards being addressed in this particular unit of study.
We talked through the standards, as well as the learning targets, and brainstormed assessments methods to match the various elements of learning required for students to master the concept. Still, we were in a pause.
So, I decided to change course.
Instead of further belaboring the learning targets and what student proficiency would need to look like, I engaged the team to consider what was preventing student learning in the first place. Read more
Understanding the Big Picture
I think I always knew how important it is to connect the dots as we work to implement new ideas and provide professional development, but recently I was reminded of the crucial nature of making connections to make learning meaningful. Read more
How Learning Targets Empower Students (and Help Me, Too)
This guest post is written by Shannon Finnegan, a social studies teacher at Hopkins High School in Minnesota.
Throughout my teaching career, I have taught in three vastly different schools: a suburban high school, an inner city 6–12 school, and an alternative high school. In these different settings, I have found that there are certain educational buzzwords and catchphrases that will provoke groans and eye rolls on teacher professional development days regardless of where you work. Words such as differentiation, backwards planning, and standards-based grading are just a few of the phrases that will make teachers cringe on inservice days. When I began teaching at a small school in Brooklyn, New York, I came to loathe one phrase in particular: learning targets. Read more
Learn from Assessments?
Consider an assessment you or your collaborative team recently gave in a grade level or course.
- What did you do with the results?
- What did students do with the results?
- How did the students and the teacher(s) learn from the evidence of student learning?
Are Rubrics Counterproductive and Limiting?
A few months ago, a young teacher, Maggie, asked me what I thought of the use of rubrics. I thought it a curious question, so I asked her why she was asking. Maggie told me that she was taking some college post-graduate courses, and although a few of her teachers used them, one professor was very opposed to them and said they were counterproductive, limiting, and should not be used. Read more
Another Test? How to Plan Assessments So Students Can Learn
Ever feel like you are giving assessments all the time? Between the pretest, post-test, quizzes, district benchmarks, state interim assessments, or other nationally normed progress monitoring assessments, when is a student supposed to learn? When is a teacher supposed to teach? Is it possible to have too many assessments? Read more
Can Assessment and Open-Ended Contexts Coexist?
When we consider all of the ways to ensure successful learning outcomes, knowing the criteria for success definitely tops the list. When we know where we are going, our chances of reaching that destination increase dramatically. But what about those times when we are trying to invite open-ended experiences: creativity, play, and imagination? How does criteria-setting fit within that paradigm? Can assessment practices, such as criteria-setting and self-assessment, live in harmony with these open-ended or emergent outcomes? Read more