May 6th 2014

Learning from Your Students: A Lab Course in Formative Assessment Practice in the Era of the Common Core State Standards (NovoEd)

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Formative assessment is an instructional practice to gauge where your students are in their learning by gathering evidence of their learning, assessing the evidence, and planning the next steps in instruction. The language produced by your students, whether that language is in oral or written form, constitutes a key piece of evidence.

This course is intended for school-based instructional coaches and leaders who support teachers. It will help coaches and instructional leaders to work collaboratively with teachers to make systematic observations of student oral and written language in their classrooms. This is a lab course, in the sense that the learning will come from gathering systematic evidence, analyzing it, and sharing it with your peers in the course. Through the lab course, participants will have the opportunity to collect and explore four major components of formative assessment practice: clarifying intended learning, eliciting evidence, interpreting evidence, and acting on evidence.

This course will connect formative assessment practice to the key language practices that undergird the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. These new standards in particular emphasize high quality student-to-student discourse, engaging with the reasoning of others, and writing with claims and evidence.

The teacher-coaches and school leaders who participate in the course also will be helping in the construction of a set of courses for classroom teachers in the fall that will engage more deeply with formative assessment practices. The samples collected in this lab course will become real-life illustrative examples for those courses. Hopefully, the teacher-coaches and school instructional leaders taking the current MOOC will enroll their teachers in the fall course to develop their expertise in formative assessment as it relates to the CCSS.

The course will consist of three sessions:

(1) introductory materials on formative assessment and an assignment to collect student language,

(2) self and peer analysis of the language sample in small teams, and

(3) collaborative reflection and synthesis of the analyses.

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