Time to Investigate

In this section you will have the opportunity to review several videos and analyze the teachers' formative assessment practices. You will get to see each formative assessment element implemented in lessons ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade and in various content areas. The videos are organized into two groups: Primary grades and Secondary grades. 



For every video, there is a brief summary of the content, plus a link to its Video Viewing Protocol. The protocol includes information about the teacher's practice in relation to each element. These are not all encompassing descriptions. They include observations about teacher and student actions intended to provide seeds for thought and discussion. In each protocol, you can write down notes, including general observations and specific commendations/suggestions.

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Primary Grade Videos


Counting Collections: Kindergarten

This is a video of kindergarten math instruction aligned to college and career ready standards. Students work in pairs to create collections of 5 or 10 objects and record their counting process. The teacher checks in with the different groups to hear their thinking and advance their learning, i.e., to begin thinking about grouping the "10s" into "100s".

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First Grade - Shared Reading Experience

This teacher’s learning goals are about making predictions and identifying problems in stories, and being able to read aloud in a storyteller’s voice. These are implied repeatedly throughout the lesson but not stated explicitly until the very end of the lesson when they review the work they've done in the lesson. This explicit review/statement of the lesson learning goals is with the intention of enabling students to use these practices when they read at home.

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Orff Instruments

For the main activity of this lesson, the teacher tells students that they are going to be playing instruments, using what they learned about mood. The teacher provides direct instruction on rhythm and beat using the sounds students explored earlier in the lesson (la, so, mi...). The teacher models creating a beat and rhythm through clapping and tapping the floor with her feet. In this activity, they are repeating a particular phrase of a song (an ostinato). The teacher then asks students to express a mood from a book they've read together. Students also pick instruments based on an element they want to use to express the mood. After they've practiced with their instrument, the students provide the ostinato accompaniment to the book read out loud.

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Using Learning Progressions – 1st grade

In this video, the teacher is working to get first graders to take ownership over their learning. To do this, she integrates technology into her teaching, using examples of text on an I-pad and involving students in assessing these with her. She gets students involved in revising their own work by using self-assessment tools to transfer and apply what they just learned. The lesson is aimed at moving students beyond first grade writing standards for informational writing, which expects students to apply some fact about the topic in addition to naming the topic and providing a sense of closure. 

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Formative Assessment: Understanding Fractions

In this lesson, students are working with geometric manipulatives to support their thinking and demonstrate their understandings. The teacher gives the students a problem to solve and sets it in a "real world" situation, e.g., a candy factory where people are placing orders. The teacher explains the importance of writing explanations to justify thinking, stating that “mathematicians communicate their mathematics.” 

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Whole Class Instruction in Opinion Writing

In this video of elementary school writing instruction, the teacher has students utilize what they learned when they previously created persuasive speeches to now write different kinds of opinion pieces. The teacher and students together analyze a written petition to Lego for author's "moves" that they recognize and can use themselves in their own writing.

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Using Learning Progressions – 4th grade

This video shows a teacher incorporating self-assessment into her lesson. The teacher is trying to move students toward CCSS 4.1 and 4.2 in reading literature, which refers to explaining specific details and examples from a text and determining a theme or central message. The teacher asks students to place their work along a writing learning progression where they think it best fits. Then students get feedback from one another on whether they believe it's placed accurately along the progression. Students then develop new goals for themselves based on this feedback.

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Preparation for Fraction Multiplication

In this lesson, students engage in discourse when they need to come to consensus on a solution to a word problem. In the process of coming to consensus, students explain their thinking, including their rationales. Other students need to provide counter arguments if they have different solutions and/or ask questions and comments about their peers' solutions and thinking. This creates connected, turn-taking discourse where students are building on each other ideas (vs. just sharing stand-alone ideas). These discussions also provide a rich source of evidence of student thinking.

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Secondary Grade Videos


Number Talk: 7th Grade Math: What's the Savings?

In this lesson, students listen to one another's ideas and ask clarifying questions. They also frequently work out ideas together to solve problems, such as suggesting strategies they can use such as guess and check. When students are working on solving the problem, the students work hard to understand each other’s thinking processes and strategies for solving the problem.

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Conjecturing about Functions

In this video of middle school math instruction aligned to college and career ready standards, the teacher asks students to solve problems related to a set of functions. The teacher's goal is for students to find the pattern among the set of functions and from that identify a math concept that is true for the set of functions and for any context.

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Document-Based Questions: Warm and Cool Feedback

In this lesson, the students participate in in-depth discussions with one another based on analyses of each other's writing. These discussions include describing what is working well in the writing, what needs to be strengthened, and helping come up with solutions to improve the writing. The teacher also engages in discussions with pairs of students, asking probing questions to advance student learning.

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Modeling and Graphing Real World Situations

The teacher shows students graphs that have been created by other students in the previous lesson to demonstrate mathematical modeling. She asks them to explain why the graphs look the way they do, helping them to think critically. Then the teacher engages students in a mathematical modeling task and wants them to understand that events happening in the real world (e.g., balls being thrown in the air or a jug being filling with water) are related to math. 

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Formative Assessment: Understanding Congruence

In this lesson, the teacher states that students have previously learned about rigid motion and asks a few students to explain their understanding in the whole group. The teacher says that for the day's lesson, students will be using rigid motion to prove that two triangles are congruent.

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Reading Like a Historian

In this lesson, students read primary source text and then form an opinion about historic motivation using evidence from the text. Students also need to speak persuasively about their opinions to influence other's opinions. In this way, the lesson provides opportunities to use disciplinary practices and gain a deeper understanding of factors affecting people's opinions during the Vietnam War.

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Circuit Training for High School Students

This lesson is structured so that after the initial instructions and modeling, students do a series of exercises, repeating the workout circuit as many times as they can before the lesson is over. Each exercise is unique to the others. While the lesson isn't progressive in terms of each task building on the other, the students participate in a wide enough range of activities that taken together, they appear to exercise all major muscle groups while sustaining a cardio workout.

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Graffiti: A Digital Identity

In this lesson, the teacher asks students to consider various design elements when coming up with their graffiti tags and to create a digital version of it (during which they need to learn elements of the software, Illustrator). The teacher says that students don't need to use all the design strategies in their tags but need to be able to provide evidence that they are thinking about the various strategies. In this way, students are using both creative and critical thinking in their design work. Also, students are asked to select the design strategies in order to represent their digital identities. This work employs all students’ cognitive abilities and skills as they consider and apply aesthetics and meaning together.

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Analyzing Texts with Storyboards

In this lesson, the teacher tells students that they will be analyzing a text from the perspective of a reality TV producer. This provides a purpose for the task and gives it relevancy (e.g., students aren't just looking for details in the text to support a message for its own sake). She also connects this work to longer term goals in her address to the audience, saying that she expects students to be able to use/transfer their newly acquired reading disposition (of rereading texts for various levels of meaning) when they move on to other grade level texts.

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