Although I have been using some aspects of formative assessment in my class for a number for years, with the removal of national tests and assessment being key to our SDP (school development plan) I am planning to review my practice and focus on several areas over the next months to make improvements.
My first step was to watch the Shirley Clarke DVD, The Power of Formative Assessment. Although all of the examples in the DVD are at primary level I thoroughly recommend that all educators would benefit from watching it as a lot of the techniques could be adapted for older learners. What I really like about it is that it shows in practice lots of the ideas and techniques Clarke recommends using in her book Active Learning through Formative Assessment. One of the key techniques demonstrated in the DVD is the use of Talk Partners. I frequently used the Aifl (Assessment is for learning) strategy “Think Pair Share” and a lot of the activities I plan in class involve working in groups or with a partner. However Talk Partners is a much more structured method where the same partners are kept for a week or a fortnight with the pupils both self and peer assessing their effectiveness as a talk partner.
Clarke (2008) recommends randomly paired talk partners as
“Pupils appreciate the fairness factor and get to appreciate the rich variety of social and learning experiences”
I plan to do this using the lollypop stick method as used in the DVD which has also been used by Dylan Williams, I will continue to use the lollypop sticks during all discussions or question and answer sessions. This will hopefully ensure that all my pupils will engage with learning activities and will give those more hesitant to join in the ability to have a voice.
The first “discussion” the talk partners will have, will be to discuss the success criteria for being a good talk partner i.e. what is good talk and good listening. These success criteria will then be used at the end of a fortnight for the pupils to self and peer assess if they had been good talk partners and what they need to improve on when working with their next partners. The partners will then be swopped and at the end of the next fortnight they will evaluate if improvements have been made.
Reading / Video that helped me
DVD – The Power of Formative Assessment – Shirley Clarke
Clarke, S (2008) Active Learning through Formative Assessment, Hodder Education