Tagged: student learning


Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About! Using Academic Conversations to Assess Student Understanding

“Something to Talk About,” recorded by Bonnie Raitt in 1990, happens to be one of my favorite songs. While listening to it the other day, I began to think about the lyrics in a different context: meaningful assessment of student conversations. Tapping into student discourse is one of the most informative means of examining student thinking, particularly with students who might be culturally or language diverse. According to Zaretta Hammond, “One of the most important tools for a culturally responsive teacher is instructional conversation. The ability to form, express and exchange of ideas are best taught through dialogue, questioning, and the sharing of ideas.” (Hammond, 2015, p.149).

There is seemingly vast potential for educators to gather authentic evidence through the observation of academic conversations. Teachers can gain valuable insights into their students’ conceptual understanding and the language skills they demonstrate in real-time, authentic conversations. But as I reflect on the various assessment practices that I typically observe, I wonder if we are capitalizing on this powerful source of information? Are educators assessing the quality of rigorous academic conversations and providing support when needed to enhance that quality? 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