Formative Assessment for Improving Native American Student Learning and Language Development: A Series of Professional Learning Modules

Welcome to this professional learning series on formative assessment for Native American student learning and language development. This series addresses formative assessment implementation with Native students across content areas and focuses more specifically on bringing formative assessment into Native American language classrooms. 

Students' levels of prior knowledge and language development in English and their Native language vary greatly from one to another. It is important that instructors know where each student is on their learning pathway, and then target instructional experiences that are matched to their levels. With formative assessment, teachers have the tools to do this work. It is only in connecting with students where they are on the pathway, that they are able to progress towards meeting their Learning Goals. 

 

Why is it important to teach Native American languages?

“Since I started learning my language, I feel more connected to my community – my people, our doings, our land, especially my Great Grandma.” -- Marissa, Tewa High School youth (2009)

 

“I want to learn my language to make sure my younger sisters and brothers can speak it. I have to start with myself. It’s hard ‘cuz it’s not spoken in my home...” -- Pueblo High School youth (2014)

 

“I want to learn about the history of my people.”-- various tribal youth

Student responses gathered by the Indigenous Language Institute.

 

How is this program structured?

This professional learning series includes a "pre-module" on working together in a professional learning community, an introduction to formative assessment, and four modules corresponding to elements in the formative assessment process. The elements are:

  • Establishing Learning Goals and Success Criteria
  • Gathering Evidence of Student Learning
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Evidence of Student Learning
  • Taking Pedagogical Action

 

Working Together!

We recommend that if possible, you work through these modules together with peers in a professional learning community (PLC). This PLC can be in-person at your school site, or a video/phone conference-based community, e.g., across rural schools in a district.

Our vision for using these materials involves:

  • Individuals, on their own time, completing one module section at a time. This includes watching the formative assessment video and any additional material, such as classroom videos, reading articles, and completing any handout or protocol activities that go along with the section. To support productive meetings, we’ve included a document on establishing meeting norms below.
  • After completing the section activities, individuals come together and meet with their PLC and discuss:
    • What they’ve learned through the videos and articles
    • Questions that have come up
    • Experiences/reflections related to implementing formative assessment in their classrooms
    • Goal setting for each participant

           Linked below is a sample meeting agenda for these meetings.

  • Additionally, teachers may come together for Video Study Groups (VSG). These are more targeted meetings to provide peer feedback to one another based on video recordings teachers take of their classrooms. To support this effort, we’ve included a sample initial meeting agenda and an agenda for follow up VSG meetings. Additionally, we’ve included a peer feedback protocol and an article describing video study groups and how they support teacher learning.
  • Lastly, we have included formative assessment observation protocols for teachers to use to set their own personal learning goals and to structure peer feedback. These observation protocols are focused on the different formative assessment elements and can be found in the various modules below. They provide a helpful picture of practice for formative assessment, in several cases providing additional practical details to support implementation.

Meeting Norms | PLC Meeting Agenda | VSG Meeting Agenda 1 | VSG Meeting Agenda 2 | Learning in a VSG

 

Introduction

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Introduction to Formative Assessment

This video provides an overview of formative assessment, explains why it's important, and addresses each of the formative assessment elements.

 

Steps to complete section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Complete the handout which will guide you through a reflection of your current teaching practice.
  3. Before you implement formative assessment, you might want to read the Fundamentals of Learning which will help you structure your classroom in a way that is optimal for formative assessment.
  4. Then review the rubric/observation protocol on classroom culture. Identify two areas of strength and one area that you can work on to increase the collaborative nature of your classroom. This will go a long way towards creating a safe space for student engagement, an element needed for successful formative assessment implementation.

transcript | Self Reflection | article | rubric

 

Establishing Learning Goals and Success Criteria

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1. Learning Goals and Success Criteria: What are They?

This section further explains the relationship between Learning Goals and Success Criteria and describes how they differ from standards and lesson activities.

 

Steps to complete section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Complete the handouts with the Science and Writing examples.
  3. Check out the classroom video linked below that shows how one teacher uses Learning Goals and Success Criteria to conduct formative assessment with persuasive essays.
  4. Fill out the video viewing protocol to gain a better understanding of teacher practice with formative assessment.

transcript | Science Example | Writing Example | classroom video | video protocol

watch video

 

2. Learning Goal and Success Criteria Writing Tips

This section provides seven practical tips for writing Learning Goals and Success Criteria.

 

Steps to complete section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Complete the math example handout.
  3. Decide which Learning Goals and Success Criteria are better than others in the Overview handout. 
  4. Use the seven writing tips to write your own Learning Goals and Success Criteria with the Try it Out handout. Then see how they work in your classroom!

transcript | Math Example | Overview | Try It Out!

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3. Sharing Learning Goals and Success Criteria with Students

To support students as active participants in the formative assessment process, this section elaborates on key considerations when sharing Learning Goals and Success Criteria with students.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video. 
  2. Read through the handout with the kindergarten ELA example, answering the questions at the end based on what you've learned so far about Learning Goals and Success Criteria.
  3. Complete the attached Lesson Reflection handout. In this handout, you will reflect on the recent lesson you taught using the Learning Goals and Success Criteria created in the last section.
  4. Review the Learning Goal and Success Criteria observation protocol/rubric. From the rubrics, select two areas of strength and one area for improvement. This can be a focus for peer feedback in your PLC/video study group.
  5. Finally, read the article, How Students Learn…To Learn to deepen your understanding of students’ roles in formative assessment.

transcript | ELA Example | article | Self Reflection | rubrics

 

Gathering Evidence of Student Learning

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1. Think of "Evidence" Broadly

This section gives an overview of types of evidence, from student talk and student work, to self and peer-assessment. It also explores different evidence gathering strategies, such as asking questions and observation.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Check out the classroom video linked below that shows how one teacher gathers a range of evidence while students are engaged in collaborative discussions.
  3. Fill out the video viewing protocol to hone your analytical skills with formative assessment!

transcript | classroom video | video protocol

watch video

 

2. Gather Evidence Aligned to Learning Goals and Success Criteria

This section helps you more fully consider whether you are making student thinking visible with your evidence gathering strategies, and whether the evidence you collect about student learning is aligned to the Success Criteria.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Use the Try it Out handout below to start developing your own evidence gathering opportunities.
  3. Then try them out in your classroom!

transcript | Try It Out! 

watch video

 

3. Plan and Strategically Position Evidence-Gathering Opportunities

This section helps you think through when and how to collect evidence while learning is in progress. This will enable you to keep teaching and learning in sync.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Complete the Lesson Reflection handout below which will guide you through reflecting on your recent lesson with evidence gathering opportunities planned into it.
  3. We’ve also included rubrics/observation protocols on gathering evidence for you to use in your reflection. Reading through these protocols can help you deepen your understanding of how to implement this stage of formative assessment in your classroom.
  4. Select two areas of strength from the observation protocols/rubrics and one area for improvement. These can be a focus for peer feedback in your PLC/video study group.

transcript | rubrics | Lesson Reflection

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4. Capture a Range of Student Responses

This section guides you through the process of conceptualizing how your students will respond to instructional activities, and what these responses tell you about how student learning is progressing. The video discusses learning at three levels: emerging, maturing, and consolidated. It provides examples of student language at the three levels of learning in the context of project-based learning.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Read through the math Annotated Lesson handout which is annotated with the four gathering evidence ideas from this module.
  3. Check out the classroom video linked below that shows how one teacher gathers a range of evidence while students are engaged in a rollercoaster building activity.
  4. Fill out the video viewing protocol to further support your investigation into formative assessment practices.

transcript | Annotated Lesson | classroom video | video protocol

 

Analyzing and Interpreting Evidence of Student Learning

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1. Analyze Relative to the Learning Goals and Success Criteria

This section explains how to analyze evidence aligned with Learning Goals and Success Criteria. It also describes how to go beyond interpretations of "got it" or "didn't get it."

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Check out the teacher example in the Reflecting on Evidence video, where one teacher takes us through her thinking process as she reviews student work and the quality of her students' peer feedback.
  3. Then complete the handout on analyzing evidence from a recent lesson.

transcript | Analyzing Evidence | teacher example

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2. Compare Evidence to Likely Range of Student Responses

This section builds off of the earlier section in the Gathering Evidence module on considering a range of student responses. This video provides an example with both science content and language goals and student responses corresponding to each level.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video. 
  2. Check out the lesson plan below that articulates each stage of the formative assessment process.
  3. Then complete the Try It Out handout that takes you through articulating your own anticipated student responses, using them in an upcoming lesson, and then reflecting on how it went.

transcript | Lesson Plan | Try It Out!

watch video

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3. Use Multiple Sources and In-the-Moment Evidence

This section delves further into two types of evidence. One type is analyzed slowly and will help you understand patterns in the data. The other type is analyzed quickly and will help you respond in the moment to support students as learning is in progress.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Read through the teacher example where she uses in-the-moment evidence to respond to two students with a misconception about their reading.
  3. Then complete the Using Multiple Sources handout which supports you as you look for patterns in the data.
  4. After, reflect on your practice using the analyzing evidence focused rubrics/observation protocols. One will help you reflect on your use of multiple sources of evidence to inform instruction. Another provides additional insight into how to elicit and analyze evidence during extended discourse, as well as how to respond to this evidence in the moment.
  5. Select two areas of strength and one area for improvement based on the observation protocols/rubrics. Use this to set your personal learning goals. This can be a focus for peer feedback in your PLC/video study group.

transcript | teacher example | Using Multiple Sources | rubrics

watch video

 

4. Take Account of Students' Prior Knowledge and Experience

This section describes how a teacher's understanding of students' prior knowledge and experience can help inform implementation of the formative assessment process in her classroom, in particular, making analysis of the evidence more accurate.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Complete the Prior Experience handout to support you as you consider how your students' cultures and prior knowledge can inform your planning of formative assessment and analyzing evidence.
  3. Then watch this classroom video in music where the teacher incorporates peer feedback as a source of evidence.
  4. Finally, look over the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools to give you a broader perspective on how to make your classrooms responsive to your Native students' cultural backgrounds.

transcript | classroom video | video protocol | Prior Experience | Alaska Standards

 

Taking Pedagogical Action

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1. Responding Contingently

This section guides you through responding contingently to students' immediate learning needs, based on ongoing evidence of student learning. It provides several examples of teachers responding contingently, such as by providing tailored, small group instruction, a whole group, mini lesson, and individual conferences with personal goal setting.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video. 
  2. Complete the Responding Contingently handout that guides you through reflecting on a recent lesson, with the lens of responding contingently.

transcript | Responding Contingently

watch video

 

2. Considering the Direction: Looping Back, Staying Here, or Moving Forward

This section delves further into the idea that, depending on the evidence, a teacher may need to revisit past learning, spend more time on the current learning, or continue moving ahead with the lesson as planned. To make this determination, teachers need to be familiar with how learning progresses in their content area. This section explains the role of learning progressions in this process.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Watch the classroom video on how one 4th grade teacher uses a learning progression with self and peer assessment.
  3. Complete the video viewing protocol. Suggestion: review your takeaways with a peer and see if you came to the same conclusions.
  4. Read the article to get more accustom with how to integrate learning progressions into formative assessment.
  5. Complete the Building a Progression handout to build your own unit-sized learning progression to support formative assessment implementation!

transcript | classroom video | video protocol | article | Building a Progression

watch video

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3. Choosing the Right Pedagogical Strategy

This section spells out a range of strategies that teachers can use to take pedagogical action, such as modeling, explaining, and giving feedback. It elaborates on what each strategy is good for and when it is most appropriately used.

 

Steps to complete this section.

  1. Watch the course video.
  2. Fill out the Try It Out handout to articulate your own set of pedagogical actions you'd like to take in an upcoming lesson.
  3. Then try them out in the lesson. If you video our lesson, you can share it with a peer for feedback and discuss it in a video study group.
  4. After the lesson, complete the reflection questions in the Try It Out handout
  5. Review the descriptive teacher feedback observation protocol/rubric to choose two areas of strength and one area you'd like to improve. If you are asking for peer feedback on your lesson, this is a good tool to use to frame that feedback.

transcript | Try It Out! | rubric

 

 

Additional Resources

Formative Assessment in Action

The Formative Assessment in Action Spotlight aims to provide educators with resources that support learning about the formative assessment process. The spotlight includes classroom videos that showcase formative assessment in action, and opportunities to deepen learning about formative assessment with video viewing protocols. Educators can use the opportunities to analyze others' practice with an eye towards incorporating new learning into current instructional routines. Note: you'll see some of the same classroom videos that are in this professional development program, plus many more!

CSAI-Developed Curriculum and Instruction Resource Collection

This is a series of resources that assist teachers and those who support teachers to plan teaching and learning of College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS) for all students with a focus on formative assessment.

High-Leverage Principles of Effective Instruction for English Learners

New college and career ready standards (CCRS) have established more rigorous expectations of learning for all learners, including EL students, than what was expected in previous standards. A common feature in these new content-area standards is their emphasis on students’ use of language to articulate and convey understanding of the content. The heightened role that language plays in CCRS presents new challenges for EL students and their teachers by calling for improved instructional strategies that simultaneously address language and content-area learning.

The purpose of this resource is to provide teachers of EL students with effective, high-leverage learning and teaching principles that can be incorporated into daily instructional plans and routines.