Snow, Vance and Associates

Building Capacity in Formative Assessment

From the November 26, 2013 Blog

Blending Assessment, Instruction and Engagement to Create Powerful Learning Experiences

What do you get when an educator designs learning experiences that involve engagement, checks for understanding, opportunities for visual representation and teacher feedback?

A recipe for student success.

Mr. Ford from Monnig Middle School in Texas created a powerful learning experience that resulted in students wanting to discuss science at a conceptual level. Eighth grade students in Mr. Ford's science class participated in a strategy called Talk a Mile a Minute. The strategy, which is played like the game Password, was originally introduced by Robert Marzano and serves as a means to build content vocabulary.

In Talk a Mile a Minute, students pair up and face their partner. Words are projected on a screen so that only one partner can view the vocabulary words. The partner facing the words provides clues to enable his partner to identify the word(s).  This process continues until all words have been identified.  Partners switch places when time is called.  New words are projected and the process continues.  Mr. Ford seamlessly blended instruction and assessment by using this strategy to check for students' understanding of wavelengths, among other vocabulary words.

To support differentiation for students and to add another means for Mr. Ford to check for understanding, students used whiteboards. The whiteboards allowed students to supplement their oral clues with visual representations. At the same time, the drawings on the whiteboards provided Mr. Ford with the information he needed to provide feedback.

Talk a Mile a Minute

Mr. Ford describes the impact checking for understanding has had on engagement and student learning.

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