Following on from our blog ‘Formative and Summative Assessment: How They Work Together’ which looked at what each type of assessment is, we’ll now look at some different ways of carrying out these assessments in your classroom.
Types of Summative Assessment
Looking at summative assessment first, where you’re assessing at the end of a period of learning, the options can be quite limited. Here are some assessment formats used by the schools we talk to – not all of these will be suitable for all subjects:
- Projects – these could be research-based or hands-on, depending on the subject in hand.
- Performances – this could be performing a play in English or any kind of presentation in other areas of the curriculum.
- Term or Unit Assessments – these can be focused on one subject/concept or a round-up of everything covered.
- End-of-Year Assessments – these are usually subject-based, taken in the Summer Term and cover a mix of all the work covered in the last academic year.
- Portfolios – portfolios of work generally collate a student’s best pieces of work together, to showcase what they’ve achieved.
- External examinations – in the primary arena, these are generally the SATs taken at the end of key stage 1 and 2.
The list hasn’t changed a huge amount over the years, but what has changed is that schools now have more digital opportunities, i.e. multi-media project work, online assessments and portfolios. This offers more scope for the students, but importantly, can also cut down the work required by the teacher, as some assessments, like this Geometry Unit Assessment from EducationCity, can be sat online and are automatically marked.
Types of Formative Assessment
When looking to assess students formatively, where you are focused on identifying opportunities for improvement and informing the next steps in terms of teaching and learning, there is a lot more scope for creativity.
The key, as you’ll know, is not to focus on the outcome but on the detail of what the student does and doesn’t know about the learning objective being addressed, to inform the next steps in the teaching-learning cycle.
When looking at a two-digit multiplication problem in maths, for example, you might come across two incorrect answers like the examples below:
It’s clear that both are wrong but ‘why’ have the students come to these answers? Looking at the calculation workings, neither student has understood that he/she needs to add a zero in the ones position before starting to multiply the tens. Student B may also struggle with the concept of multiplication. To progress, you might consider addressing the first issue with a small group, whilst tackling multiplication with Student Y individually.
We know that we want to find the ‘why’, so here are some techniques you can try to uncover it, some of which you might have already tried!
Formative assessments, like those on EducationCity
Many people would categorise this kind of assessment as ‘an oldie but a goodie’ but we’ve brought our assessments up to date by having them accessible online and marking them automatically. All the answers given are also saved to our progress tracking area, SuccessTracker, meaning teachers can gain a comprehensive insight into individual student’s misconceptions. The system also creates a personalised Revision Journal per students to address missing skills – perfect for informing next steps for the class, as well as individualised revision and homework!
Analysis of students’ work
An enormous amount of information can be learned from students’ homework, tests and quizzes, especially if the students are required to explain their thinking. When teachers take the time to analyse work a student has produced, they can gain knowledge about:
- A student’s current understanding of, attitude to, and skills relating to a subject matter.
- Strengths, weaknesses and learning styles.
- Help required.
Round Robin charts
This strategy involves passing charts between groups of students to assess understanding. Each group of 4 or 5 students begins with a chart and some markers. The group records an answer to an open-ended question to share the knowledge they have on a topic that’s been covered in class. Once the students finish with the chart, they pass it on to the next group, which adds to it. Once every group has worked on every chart, responses are discussed as a class, helping you to develop your lesson plan moving forward.
Questioning strategies can be used with individuals, small groups, or the entire class. Effective formative assessment strategies involve asking students to answer higher-order questions, such as ‘why’ and ‘how’, which require more in-depth thinking from the students, answers to which can help the teacher discern the level and extent of the students’ understanding.
Polls let students give responses quickly and accurately and can be a simple show of hands or undertaken with technology like clickers, which are interactive survey devices. Both are silent polls, so perfect for ‘shy’ students who have trouble speaking up.
Exit cards/Ticket out the door (mentioned in the last blog)
Exit cards allow the teacher to ask students up to 3 questions about the subject covered in the lesson. They are given out 5 minutes before the end of the class and returned by the students as they leave. Responses allow the teacher to see which students have understood the lesson’s learning objective, which have partial understanding with a few minor gaps, and which have major gaps in their understanding of what’s been covered, allowing them to analyse trends, group students according to their learning needs and create a plan of action for the next lesson.
It’s also possible to use a hybrid of the above! A question from an EducationCity assessment, for example, could be the focus of your Round Robin chart, strategic questioning or classroom/clicker poll.
We hope we’ve given you some ideas to try in your classroom, or indeed included your favourite way to assess.We’d love to hear what works for you, so feel free to get in touch, by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweeting us @educationcity.