The power of formative assessment is one of the things I most like about the process of the IBPYP Exhibition.
The IBPYP Exhibition is a student-driven, culminating experience in the PYP. During the Exhibition, the teacher openly drops into a real facilitator role (even though they do this all the time). Throughout the Exhibition, kids drive their inquiry. They embrace the transdisciplinary skills and IB Learner profile, as they should do all of the time. However, the Exhibition makes it explicit, and it’s a great time to soak in students’ understanding.
Formative assessment, or the assessment that drives our teaching, is so critical during Exhibition. It shows us students’ strengths and weaknesses. It allows us to change our course, differentiate between students, giving some the scaffolding they need and others the freedom they need.
How, as a teacher during the Exhibition, do I gather all of this juicy information about the students?
I watch: Over the last few weeks, I have taken a lot of mental notes and have written a lot of notes about how effectively the students organize themselves. Can they follow a checklist? Do they know what to do next? Do they continuously ask me for help? When they’re putting together their visual display, can they figure out how to make it neat? When it’s workshop time, are they focused when searching for information or are they playing games? Can they rise to the challenge of putting it all together–from research to writing to speaking to their i-movie? If not, where are they struggling?
I listen: What kinds of questions are they asking me or others? How are they talking with their friends in class? One student talks about how she wants to do her best and wonders why someone else is goofing off. When they talk about their passion and their real-life connection, do they know details? Can they support what they say? I listen to them on Voice Thread talking about their passion and explaining its importance. I listen to their words in their blog responses.
I record: I take a lot of pictures. I videotape them whenever I can. The other day I checked in to see how they were feeling. What made them excited and what concerned them about Exhibition. Even watching this, I can tell how well they are reflecting.
The Exhibition has helped remind me how we don’t need standardized tests to tell us how our students are doing. As good teachers, and I know more of them than I do poor teachers, we understand our students through our interactions with them. It’s formative assessment, anecdotal notes and keen observation. Our Exhibition team of teachers are constantly evaluating how we’ll change things based on our students. We interact. We inquire. We learn.
Formative assessment drives us.