As a school we have done a lot of work on AfL over the last few years to make sure that it becomes part and parcel of what we do in the classroom. With the increasing emphasis put on progress by Ofsted but also more importantly because pupils’ learning is at the core of what we do, it seems crucial for teachers to master the art of AfL so that pupils’ achievements and learning are transformed.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a course on Assessment for Learning at Warwick University led by Denise Smith from Torquay Academy (http://www.denisesmithteaching.co.uk/). The training was excellent, it covered all aspects of AfL in depth and it was reassuring to hear that we have been going in the right direction!
Here are some thoughts and ideas from the session:
1/ Establishing systems:
– It is important that the target grade is treated as a minimum, in other words let students aspire for higher.
– To prevent students comparing their grade to others’ consider using colour coding, so everybody who has achieved their target will be coloured green to celebrate success (whether it is at a level 2 or at a level 4).
– Deal with incorrect answers and consider the following:
“You’re definitely on the right lines. Now let’s build on the perfect answer between us.”
“That’s a very good point. So, what about….?” (redirect the conversation on the right lines)
“I can see what you mean there. What would happen if…?”
– To prevent people from taking over the discussion and to make sure that you don’t leave people out, use a random name picker.
Sorting Hat (The Hat is a simple but handy little utility that offers a fun and easy way to automatically determine a random order from a list of any amount of names. You can even use it to pick individual names for raffle and sweepstakes winners or pick any amount of names at a time to divide a large group into random smaller groups, complete with cool animation and sound effects).
– Use question stems to avoid closed questions:
“Can you compare this to…?”
“What could happen if…?”
“How would you…?”
“What are the possible results of this?”
3/ Quick whole class assessment to build an overall understanding of where pupils are at:
– mini whiteboards
– thumbs up / thumbs down
– traffic lighting
– establish prior knowledge and repeat at the end of lesson to measure progress
– ABCD cards to show for multiple choice answers
– Train students on the use of positive language for peer-assessment:
“It would be good to…” (rather than “you didn’t…”)
“Have you tried…?” / “Next time think about…” (instead of “you should have…”)
– Triple impact marking: mark work – pupils redraft acting on feedback – remark checking improvements have been made
5/ Pupil evaluation of lesson: