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FEATURE: SUCCESSFUL TEACHING PRACTICE


topics after a block on lessons. These structured high-stake summative assessments tend to yield low impact in supporting teachers in understanding what pupils know and how to move them forward. It is also usually at a point many weeks or months after pupils were taught. In this structure, although pupils may perform well on one end of topic assessment it does not mean they have learnt the concepts and processes. We know from extensive research into how our memory works, there is a difference between learning and performance. Learning takes place when there is a change in long term memory. Performance in one assessment may not be replicated in a further assessment when concepts and processes are revisited at a later stage in the learning journey. In contrast, applying a cumulative approach to


assessment, such as in the History example below, can cultivate the right conditions for pupils to practice concepts and processes from topics over time. This allows teachers to use this cumulative approach to devise interim assessments that provide the building blocks to improve retention of knowledge from previous topics to allow pupils to continually practice bringing knowledge back to mind to strengthen schema. Credit: Michael Chiles


The importance of good curriculum design In establishing a structure to assessment design, it is important then to consider how these interim assessments will fit into the curriculum. This is where curriculum design is important and teachers having a clear understanding of how their curriculum builds on and revisits knowledge over time. I like to see curriculum design as creating a tapestry that tells the story of your subject, weaving together the complex concepts and processes to create an overall picture at the end. It is important teachers have a clear understanding of the intent of the curriculum and how knowledge weaves through to build in complexity over time. As well as teachers having a clear


understanding of the curriculum, pupils also need to know what it is they are supposed to be learning and how their learning will be judged. One strategy is to provide curriculum roadmaps that set out a clear outline of what pupils will be learning and where their journey will take them. In sharing these learning intentions as ‘fertile question’ it will help pupils to understand the journey and free up some of their working memory. Alongside these checkpoints, it can support pupils to be reflective and self-regulated learners, providing them with a structure to begin to assess their own progress along the journey. Credit: Michael Chiles


Classroom strategies Once we have established as teachers what we want pupils to learn and how we can communicate this to pupils, we need to gather information that can provide an indication of their progress towards the learning intentions. This is where formative classroom strategies, low stake quizzes as well as silent and sustained milestones can provide information on pupil progress. Teachers ask lots of questions every lesson. .


We ask pupils questions to promote thought for the pupil and shed light on any misconceptions they may have. One effective assessment tool to use in the classroom is the use of hinge questions.


September 2020 www.education-today.co.uk 35


Hinge questions allow teachers to gather information quickly in a low stake, high impact manner. The key is to the designing of the questions so that they reveal misconceptions and assumptions that pupils may have. The ‘hinge point’ will be different depending on the subject and the concepts and processes that the teacher is assessing, and this should be decided by the individual teacher. It is important that teachers have the autonomy to decide their hinge points when they feel it is appropriate. As leaders our focus should be on supporting teachers to creating the most effective hinge questions that reveal misconceptions. Here are some tips when designing these hinge questions:


• The question should be clear, concise and test one concept or process • To reduce guessing, provide an ‘I don’t know’ option


• All answers should be plausibly correct • Aim to give no more than 4 options


Feedback to feedforward Finally, the use of feedback to support pupils to feedforward is an important element to assessment for learning. When we have established the difference between what pupils currently know and what pupils needs to know, we can provide them with the right feedback to move forward. When applying effective feedback there are five key principles that teachers can use Credit: Michael Chiles


First and foremost, feedback should be more


work for pupils than the teacher. Before pupils ask for feedback teachers should encourage the proofreading of work to ensure it is ready for checking. When it comes to delivering feedback teachers should aim to provide razor sharp comments that are focused on exactly how to improve. The more obstacles we place when giving feedback the longer it will take for pupils


to move further towards the learning intention. To close, the purpose of assessments in any


school should be to support teachers and pupils in establishing what they know and what they need to do to move forward. Establishing the process for creating these assessment opportunities is important and there is argument to suggest a greater emphasis on a formative approach, training teachers to use responsive teaching to guide pupils to close the knowledge gap.


uMichael Chiles’ new book, ‘The CRAFT of Assessment’, published by John Catt Educational, can be purchased at https://www.johncattbookshop.com/the-craft- of-assessment


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