I think that there are some easy shifts to make. A small change that makes a big difference is to increase the number of activities that you launch half-way through your class period. That way, activities don't wrap up at the end of a single class period and you have the possibility of responding in some way to your students' work.
The bare-bones version of this can still make a big difference. Here's what it might look like:
- MONDAY: You do something in the first half of class to prepare kids for an activity. Then they spend 20 minutes working on the activity. You collect it.
- MONDAY NIGHT: You read their work. You notice where they had trouble.
- TUESDAY: Relaunch the activity the next day. Give the whole class some feedback about common issues that came up, and then hand them their work. Have them continue for 20-30 minutes.
This is the indispensable core of formative assessment: learning what your kids are thinking and using that to make informed decisions. Even if you don't have time for comments or if you feel the need to slap a grade on everything your kids work on, this routine will still help.
Questions for y'all:
- Do you agree that this routine make a big difference?
- Are there other easy changes that you'd recommend for increasing the amount or quality of formative assessment we give?
- Which is more important for learning: knowing what your students think, or giving them feedback?
- Is it important for teaching techniques to be easy?