What assessment means for you in the classroom - the difference between summative and formative assessment.
Our job as teachers is to make sure that all students can make progress. In its simplest terms, we need therefore to decide three things each lesson:
These are also known as summative and formative assessment.
Assessment of learning (summative)
One way to check learning may be to set them homework, or a test – some form of independent work to check they have taken on board and understood all we have taught them.
Tests are a common feature in schools – often in the form of end of module/unit tests, or formal exams.
The downside of using this on its own is that by the time we find out that some of them have not understood something, it is too late! We have moved on to the next topic. And in some subjects, like Maths, if they haven’t understood one concept then moving on to the next one may well be a waste of time!
Assessment for learning (formative)
So the other form of checking is one we need to employ during every lesson. This is known as Assessment for Learning – or AfL for short.
There are a variety of techniques you can use in the classroom to check learning before moving on. Don’t be tempted to move on regardless, just because you know you have to cover certain elements – you will only have to return to those topics at a later date if some of them have not learnt what you need them to have learnt!
Imagine AfL as being a bit like the following...
So what does this mean in the classroom?
It means that you need to build their learning carefully, checking at each stage whether they have learnt it. If they have, you can move onto the next part of your lesson. If not, then you may need to go back over the learning.
If only one or two students have not grasped the topic, then move on the learning with the whole class, but let those students know you will help them.
Assessment for Learning – some strategies you can use.
More next week.
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Dr Sharon Williams