Weekly Coaching Communication

Make it a great day -- every day!

19 - 23 October 2015

On the Standards Front . . .

Several of the conversations I have had in the past two weeks have revisited the purpose of formative assessments, especially in light of our discussion of proficiency scales. Regardless of the equivalent letter grade for the scale, proficiency resides at a level 3 of learning. As recommended by and adapted from the Iowa Department of Education in Teacher Resources, the importance of formative assessment is the information provided to students and to guide instruction.


Assessment for Learning (Formative Assessment) is a process used by teachers and students as part of instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of core content. As assessment for learning, formative assessment practices provide students with clear learning targets, examples and models of strong and weak work, regular descriptive feedback, and the ability to self-assess, track learning, and set goals. (Adapted from Council of Chief State School Officers, FAST SCASS)


Intended Purpose of Formative Assessment

To increase students' learning

To adjust instruction

To diagnosis student needs

To improve the instructional program


Assessment for Learning Examples (CATs)

A CAT is a classroom assessment technique that provides a formative assessment that conveys a student's level for learning. Most CATs are already familiar to you: Non-graded quizzes, pretests, minute papers, exit tickets, written assignments, concept maps, interviews, progress monitoring, performance assessment scoring guides, weekly reports, focused questions, journals, learning logs, learning probes, checklists, surveys, and item analyses of summative assessments. For other CATs, specific to a certain activity, content or goal, I have a book for loan or perusal.


Research has shown that effective assessment for learning practices have the potential to greatly increase both student achievement and motivation. Black and Wiliams (1998) identify the key classroom assessment features that result in these large achievement gains as:

  • Assessments that result in accurate information
  • Descriptive rather than evaluative feedback to students
  • Student involvement in assessment


For classroom formative assessment practices to both motivate students and increase student achievement, students need to know the learning target, know where they are in regards to the learning target, and know what they can do to close the gap. In Classroom Assessment for Student Learning, Richard J. Stiggins lists 7 strategies of assessment for learning:


  1. Provide a clear and understandable vision of the learning targets.
  2. Use examples and models of strong and weak work.
  3. Offer regular descriptive feedback.
  4. Teach students to self-assess and set goals.
  5. Design lessons to focus on one aspect of quality at a time.
  6. Teach students focused revision.
  7. Engage students in self-reflection, and let them keep track of and share their learning.

Quick Clicks

Quote of the Week

During my last round of graduate classes, I learned a slick trick to check the dominant impression in my writing: Wordle. I would take my entire essay and paste it into Wordle, knowing that the words used most frequently would be the largest in the resulting diagram. Reviewing the diagram, I could quickly see the dominant impression my essay was creating.


Although the Wordle pictured is not from my own writing, it definitely offers a dominant impression with the words YET, STUDENTS, and TEACHERS. Not to dismiss the purpose of the rest of the words, but the three largest have piqued the connotations of these three words.


STUDENTS and TEACHERS have obvious connotations, as I am an educator and work in a public school system. I associate the relationships and statuses between the two words and reflect on current and past relationships I have and have had as a teacher with students and other teachers. The dynamics of learning are encompassed in these two words, as well as the relationship. However, I often find that the role of TEACHER and STUDENT is not static -- STUDENTS teach, and TEACHERS learn.


The word YET is a little more elusive in its connotations, but in the context of the ever changing relationship between STUDENTS and TEACHERS and the dynamics of learning, I am aware of YET's necessity. I teach STDUENTS what they may not know or understand YET. I study and research to learn more about what I do not know YET. My STUDENTS and TEACHERS teach me things that I do not YET know.


If I do not know something, or my STUDENTS do not know something, without the YET, learning cannot happen. When YET is placed at the end of the sentence, "I do not know how to implement Write Tools YET," I am giving myself an opportunity for learning. Without the YET, the sentence is finite and void of possibility. The YET in those sentences gives the power to the dynamics of learning.


I have to understand where I am with my learning and work with what I have (or don't have) at times because the YET is my learning in progress. I also know that the YET does not come easy in learning, so I do what I can. However, I embrace the YET in my lack of knowledge and skill because it is the YET that will make me grow.


I do not know and understand all that I want about proficiency scales and standards-based grading YET. I have not figured out the best system to communicate student progress YET. I am YET still building relationships with STUDENTS and TEACHERS. My learning curve as an Instructional Coach is still large YET. . . but I'm growing.


Embrace the YET and grow with me.

Coaching Schedule -- see Google Calendar for specific "Busy" times **schedule subject to change**

Monday, 19 October

  • Serve Teachers & Students
  • Classroom Observations
  • Research & Resources


Tuesday, 20 October

  • Serve Teachers & Students
  • Classroom Observations
  • Research & Resources
  • Webinar "Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management" -- 2:00-3:00 PM


Wednesday, 21 October

  • Data Team Meeting 7:30 -- All Staff (1 Hour Late Start)
  • Serve Teachers & Students
  • Classroom Observations
  • Research & Resources


Thursday, 22 October

  • Serve Teachers & Students
  • Classroom Observations
  • Research & Resources


Friday, 23 October

  • IC/Principal Meeting 7:30 AM -- Libolt & Popenhagen
  • Serve Teachers & Students
  • IC Team Meeting 11:30 AM -- Middle School

Contact Information

Instructional Coach

Center Point - Urbana CSD