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Formative Assessment,

Kicking Off the Year with Formative Assessment

One of our wonderful trainers, Laura Gage,shares her thoughts on starting the year off with an activity that helps set clear expectations for behavior and serves as a quick formative check on students. 

This time of year can be so exciting yet nerve wracking not only for students but for teachers as well, no matter how long we’ve been teaching! Building community is a huge goal for me each school year and I want to make my students feel as if they are a part of a true, close-knit group, right from the start. Having a yearlong theme helps pull us all together and give us a common experience.

Our theme this year is “Team 207” and follows a sports theme. Right off the bat when we discuss expectations and create class rules we will make parallels to being part of a team and pulling our own weight, yet being able to rely on others to motivate and encourage us to do our best. We will post these shared rules on pennants that the kids work in teams to create; right away this will provide some insight into the students ability to share ideas, work collaboratively and follow directions, so will essentially be one of our first formative assessments.

When I used this theme a couple years ago I bought little trophies to circulate around the room for teams who demonstrated “quality work and sportsmanlike attitude”. It’s amazing how a simple incentive like these little trophies motivate kids to raise the bar in their achievement!

Whether we are jumping into the actual curriculum or still doing introductory activities, my hope is to set the stage for a positive classroom atmosphere in which students realize that learning is purposeful and engaging. Building the structure of the classroom in which students continually reflect upon their growth and set goals to reach for can begin on day 1.

I’m eager to try new methods of formative assessment with my students and look forward to growing as a teacher! I’d love to hear about your ideas for kicking off the year with informal assessments or lessons to establish climate.

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