entry tickets

Benefits of Recording Formative Assessment

It’s our Open House night. Parents pour through hoping for insight on how their child’s school experience is going. However, this isn’t a night to talk about students. It’s a night to talk about curriculum, general class structure, and possibly specifics about projects or assignments currently underway or coming up.

My fallback is my web site because everything is there. Parents respond positively to the web site as it is very informative and it’s not only a way for students to know what is going on but parents as well.

However, the big surprise came when a few parents added,

“Oh, and I love how you monitor their progress”

“…she looks at Power School and sees improvement and it makes her feels so good about herself”

“I like how you can see how they are learning.”

And I’m surprised and pleased that they’re following Power School that closely and that they recognize my attempt to monitor and follow progress.

There is definitely a train of thought that supports not recording or reporting on formative assessments. However, my policy is to record and report on as many formative assessments as possible.

But not checking this box in Power School, the number will not be included in the students' grade.

But not checking this box in Power School, the number will not be included in the students' grade.

For example, with my Entry Tickets I can actually quantitatively determine how much a student knows at a given time. This number then gets recorded in Power School as a non-counted Test/Quiz score (it is removed from impacting their final grade). Thus, students (and parents) can see different “progress reports” throughout the unit. The content of these entry tickets will ultimately be the content of the unit test so the progression should directly be reflected in their test score at the end.

At a glance I can determine who is progressing and I can target struggling learners, especially during group and individual work. Currently, my 8th graders are working on a lab that contains negative and positive controls and for some reason they are really having a difficult time wrapping their heads around this concept.  However, many are grasping it and I can see it. There are a handful who remain very unsure and today during the lab I spent time with all lab teams but was able to linger longer with those students who I know, based on their entry tickets,  are really struggling more than the others. My goal was to help them visualize the concept with their experiment.

Tomorrow’s Entry Tick will, indeed, tell me if the visualization helped!

The practice of reporting on formative assessment has yielded some surprising results:

  • In the time it takes students to prepare for our first activity, I know who needs help and I know exactly what I need to focus on that day (and isn't that the entire purpose of formative assessment?).
  • Students become more focused on learning specifics.
  • Students ask more questions.
  • Students arrive more prepared to class, knowing I’m going to probe their knowledge.
  • Student know they will get more chances to learn the topic, and have hope if they still 'don't get it'.
  • Students seem happier and more motivated to tackle difficult topics.
  • Being questioned in a quiz format de-stresses the entire experience of “being tested”. It’s just part of learning now.
  • No time is wasted at the beginning of class because students are engaged as they walk through the door, already reading through their entry tickets.
  • Oh, and parents are happier.

My entry ticket assessments and the recording of them is spreading to all of my classes!  

More formative Assessment

Entry Tickets

It’s good to have a routine.  But then it’s also good to sometimes change up those everyday activities.  This week began a new routine in the classroom.

Students were greeted at the doorway.  They almost ran into each other as they realized they were expected to line up and wait for further instructions.  Their routine of simply entering the classroom first thing in the morning was interrupted.  They paused and smiled with curiosity, wondering what was up my sleeve.  After our regular greetings, each student received a small piece of paper with three questions on it.  They followed the instructions to take a seat, remove their lab work from their backpacks and answer the questions.  Furrowed brows, scribbling pencils, and the flipping of lab pages followed.  Immediately students were immersed in the work at hand, reflecting on and processing what was accomplished in the previous class and preparing for the current lesson.

They passed their papers forward and we discussed what the rest of the lab entailed.  As they gathered goggles, dawned aprons, and assembled supplies, I took a quick look at the entry tickets, immediately assessing what the students did and did not understand about the lab.  As I circled between the lab pairs during the lab I was able to target the misconceptions.

Furthermore, at the end of the class we jointly created a set of tables to clarify the definitions for and identification of the positive and negative controls in the lab (relating to the entry point questions).

The entry tickets directed me in how the lesson needed to progress and took the students down a path of greater understanding. The technique will become a regular addition and will also spread to my other classes.  Adding a new technique into a lesson also engages the students and generates a new kind of energy within the classroom.  Encouraging more formative assessment and the courage to try new techniques in the classroom!