Thursday, October 20, 2011

Phat -n- Famous

The formative assessment team is entering its third year. You can read previous posts on the team if you are interested or need some schema built for you. :) This year we have three new members and a new team name, and we held our first meeting of the new school year last Friday.

The project itself has a new name: FAME or Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators. All coaches were asked to discuss this article with their teams. My principal asked that I do something around formative assessment for the whole staff for our PD day, so I used the article with my whole staff. This had three benefits. First, it left more time to get to the nitty-gritty in our team meeting. Second, reading and discussing the article ahead of time and with the whole staff gave two of my new members a chance to read and talk about FA before coming to their first meeting. I hope it helped ease a bit any anxiety they were feeling. And third, the whole staff activity also resulted in one more member joining our team.

When the team got together after lunch, our first task was to create our group norms. Two years ago, we created our norms using the Hopes and Fears protocol. Because six of the team are returning members, I didn't want to use the same protocol, but because we have three new members, I knew it was important to follow a protocol to create new group norms that belong to all of us. I used a protocol called Forming Ground Rules from the NSRF website. These are the norms that the group decided on:
     There will be snacks.
     We will follow a short, succinct, flexible agenda.
     We will set long and short term group and individual goals.
     What happens at PHAT stays at PHAT.
     We will all be contributing members.
And our safety word will continue to be SQUASH. (Yes, there is a fun story behind that!)

Our next task was to do some team building by creating a team poster that would include a team name, symbol, and motto. Our new team name is PHAT -n- Famous. This is (obviously, I hope!) an acronym and a play on words. PHAT=Pretty Hot Assessment Team and the Famous incorporates the new name of the project (FAME.) Our motto is Assessing Outside the Box. Here is the poster:
Each star coming out of the box has a team member's name on it.

The next thing I wanted to do was to "prime the pump" of formative assessment by accessing their prior knowledge. Now that we are a couple of years into the process, I know that team members have a lot of knowledge about FA. To bring that out, the team did a chalk talk. A chalk talk is accomplished by each group member writing what they know about the topic in the middle. They may branch off things other members write, but they cannot talk out loud--all talk is in writing. After the Chalk Talk, we reviewed some of the resources from last year and briefly brought up points from the article again.The group then went back to the Chalk Talk and added to it (in red so we could all see what was jogged in their memories after the review.)
Chalk Talk is a formative assessment tool that can allow a teacher to see how much a group knows about a topic before teaching about it. Groups of 4 are about right in a classroom, and if each student has a different colored marker, the teacher quickly gets an idea of where each student is in terms of their knowledge on the topic.
By this time it was getting late in the day, and we all know how functional teacher brains are at 3:00 on a Friday...after a long day of PD! The last thing I asked the team to do was to create individual goals and write them on a ticket out the door with a section where they also were asked to consider ways I could support them in reaching their goals. I will meet with team members about their goals in order to support them before we meet again. The goals also help me see where the group wants to go and so they assist me in planning our next meeting together.

It was a great meeting and I am looking forward, once again, to spending another year with such dedicated and curious teacher/learners.

No comments:

Post a Comment