Welcome back! This is part three of my 7-part summer blog series focused on formative assessments and the book, The Formative 5. Last week, I introduced the first formative assessment technique– observations. In that lesson, I talked about how observations can be used as formative assessment tools. I gave four questions to consider when planning to use observations as formative assessments and then I introduced a planning sheet and a checklist that could be used to collect information and evidence that would help inform your planning and teaching. (Missed the post? See it here!) At the end of last week’s post, I introduced today’s formative assessment technique—the interview.
Before you panic, let me put your mind at ease. I’m not talking about a clinical interview where you have a series of questions that you sit down with a student and ask and then record the responses. These interviews are tied to the observations and they’re short and quick. They’re really just a way to gain additional information about your observations.
Like last week, the first thing that we’re going to do when we think about using an interview as a formative assessment tool is to plan for it. As we plan for it, there are four questions that will help guide us in our planning for using interviews as formative assessment tools.
- The first question is to think about what we might observe that would trigger an interview. This could be an incorrect solution, a very different solution strategy, or even a student that is being really successful. We want to think about what things we might observe, as we are conducting our observations, that would prompt us to want to ask more questions.
- Second, we want to think about logistics. When will we conduct this interview– right there on the spot or make a note and ask the question later? We also want to think about where the interview is going to happen– in of the classroom or outside of the classroom. We also want to consider documentation. Are we going to record it word for word, take quick notes, or listen and note later? Lastly, we want to consider if there are any tools that we need as we are conducting the interview, such as manipulatives so that the student is able to demonstrate how he or she arrived at a solution.
- The third question is about what questions we will ask. Those questions will really be based on the first question about what kind of observation would trigger an interview. This is when we will consider the follow-up questions that we want to ask in order to better understand where a student is in the learning process.
- Once we consider what questions to ask, we will also need to think about what responses we might expect to hear. Thinking about the initial questions and possible student responses in advance will help us think about how our teaching needs to change in order to address the student’s needs.
- The fifth question is to consider what follow-up questions we might want to ask– the first question will naturally lead to another question in order to gain more information and help us better understand the student’s response.
Last week, I used this checklist to show how observation data could be recorded. The picture below shows the checklist I put together in use.
From the checklist, you can see that some of the students haven’t mastered all of the break-outs for this skill—solving story problems using the division of fractions. These are the breakouts that I identified last week for what the standard looks and sounds like in the classroom for the successful learning and understanding of the skill. As an example, I’m going to focus on David and then Sharon and Nick.
- David was unable to correctly identify the dividend and the divisor in the story problems that we were working on in the lesson. The picture below shows some questions I could ask in order to better understand his thinking and begin to understand how to help him identify his mistake.
- Both Sharon and Nick could correctly identify the dividend and the divisor in the story problem, but they were unable to use the visual fraction models to represent the problem and show the quotient. The picture below shows some questions I could ask in order to better understand their thinking and begin to understand how to help them identify their mistake.
The picture below shows some guiding questions that can be used to help you gain more information about what your students know and understand when you want to follow-up on your observations using your interview.
As a side note, I want to add that interviews are not just for students who are having trouble. Interviews can be used to learn more about a student’s thinking when they are on the right path, when you want to extend his/her thinking, or when you want to evaluate his/her understanding of a task.
That’s it for interviews! Please join me next week to make a plan for using Show Me tasks as formative assessment tools.
Sound Off! How might you use interviews to formatively assess your students?
Reference: Fennell, F., Kobett, B. M., Wray, J. A. (2017). The formative 5: Everyday assessment techniques for every math classroom. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.