Following up on Part 1 of his series, Mark joins us for another exploration of effective teaching strategies.
In our effort to assess more and test less, we need to help students focus on the area needing the most attention. This is best done when learning targets are aligned to assessment questions. Teachers can design summative tests so that a specific learning target is the focus of several questions. For example, a math test may have the first four questions relating to a specific focus; such as: I can determine if two figures are similar using scale factor. The four questions may also be written so that a variety of question formats are used. In this way, students can use focused revision to determine areas of strengths and weaknesses within a given content as well as question format.
On my next summative assessment I may use two multiple choice, one short answer, and an extended response question for each of the learning targets. In this way, students and teachers can quickly analyze a student’s ability to demonstrate mastery of content and which question format is posing a roadblock. If summative assessments are aligned to specific learning targets then students can accurately focus in on their areas of strengths and weaknesses. A student may realize that they are strong in content knowledge but struggle to convey that knowledge using extended response type questions. If retakes or performance bumps are a regular routine in your classroom, then focused revision allows students to target the area needing the most attention for improvement to occur. In this way, the business of learning is placed squarely on the student’s shoulders. Helping your students use focused revision is one of the 7 effective strategies that highly effective teachers use to close any gaps that may be a result of a student’s inability to focus on areas needing improvement. Together, focused revision coupled with descriptive feedback, will go a long way in helping students take ownership of their learning and academic achievement.