Whether it is Steven Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or Jan Chappuis’, Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning, the principle is the same: highly effective teachers begin with the end in mind. What do we mean by that? Highly effective teachers begin the planning process first with the end result in mind. We see this in our personal lives every day.
Recently, while doing some last minute preparations for a presentation, I relied on my GPS to get me to the nearest electronics store. I input the desired location and listened intently to each command from my GPS. I was astonished that the GPS had me weaving my way through the parking lots of apartment complexes. Wow! I couldn’t believe the GPS had bypassed streets on the map and led me to my destination by cutting through parking lots.
I was within 500 feet of the desired location when I came upon a large pond separating my vehicle from the electronics store. There was nothing I could do to close the gap between my vehicle and the store. Sure, I could have left the safety of my car and waded through the murky pond water. I am not sure if I would have saved much time, let alone the embarrassment of entering an electronics store with wet, soiled clothing. Fortunately, I didn’t have much time to consider that option when the GPS began with a new set of commands. The feedback was immediate and descriptive. Within seconds, the GPS had me on another course that led me to the electronics store a few minutes later.
The end in mind was firmly established in my own mind and in the marvelous GPS technology. Likewise, highly effective teachers use formative assessment to change course directions while there is time to make it happen. While keeping the end in mind, such as an end of unit test, highly effective teachers formatively assess and help students close the gap in their learning before they arrive at the final destination. There is time for the learner to make specific course corrections using the descriptive feedback provided through various formative assessment strategies.
In Mark Kevesdy’s next blog, he will share how descriptive feedback is used effectively to engage all learners to increase learning and achievement in a risk free environment.
Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning