Effective Formative Assessment: Gots and Needs
Posted: Monday, December 3rd, 2012
by Bethany Dixon
How do you use formative assessments to increase student achievement and drive curriculum pacing in your classroom? Assessment that informs instruction is critical for effective teaching, but time constraints and student engagement for an assessment that “doesn’t count” can be obstacles that are difficult to overcome. How can teachers possibly give timely, effective feedback on a daily basis while keeping their plans nimble and students engaged? At the AP Biology Leadership Academy this summer, Brooke Bourdelat-Parks from BSCS gave research-based, classroom-tested, and easy-to-implement strategies that can help you improve your formative assessments whether you teach 2nd graders or 2nd-year graduate students.
The Strategy: “Gots and Needs”
Initial implementation: 10 Minutes (in a full-inclusion high school class: adjust for modeling and practice at different levels)
Additional implementations: 1 minute for student participation, 3 minutes for teacher review, 3 minutes the next class day.
How it works: Grammar of the title aside, this is my new favorite way to take the academic vitals of a class. “Gots and Needs” is a fast way to grab a formative assessment as students exit your room and the sticky note process makes it easy to grade and give next-day feedback.
Materials and Methods: Each student will need two sticky notes. On the first sticky note each student writes down one thing that they “Got” from today’s lesson. On the second sticky note students write down one thing they “Need” to improve their understanding of the topic. On the way out the door, students stick their “Got” on one location and their “Need” to another (e.g. I use two posters—“Gots” on the DNA poster, “Needs” on the Regulation poster—both are by the door on the way out).
For the next part I use an open file folder with the tab labeled for each class. I take the notes off the wall beginning with “Gots” on one side of my folder. Ideally, many students “Got” the same thing out of the class, something related to your objective written in their own words without prompting. “Gots” should be focused around a central topic. As I pull each one off, I stick similar ones together until I have three or four that cover the range of ideas well. I pull one sticky for myself and write down three bullet points that include students’ own words and recycle the rest. (Yes, as long as your school recycles mixed paper, according to the EPA, sticky notes are okay in the bin!) Next, I pull “Needs” and do the same thing, but these may be all over the place in terms of ideas because of the varying backgrounds and needs of your students. If you see distinct clusters, this is an indication of an instructional opportunity that should help your planning/intervention.
The next day after your bell-ringer or intro, you have a built-in, three-minute spiral review that dramatically increases student ownership in the classroom. Start by sharing their success: this is what YOU said that you “Got” yesterday in class (“Oh we learned something! I remember that!”). Next address their needs: “My teacher listens to us!” or, “Wow, I remember writing that yesterday!” Spending three minutes going over identified misunderstandings provides students with an opportunity to quickly correct their mistakes before you build on a topic that might have been difficult or needed reinforcement.
According to NSTA and NCATE’s 2012 NSTA Standards for Science Teacher Preparation, (http://www.nsta.org/pd/ncate/docs/KnowledgeBaseSupporting2012Standards.pdf) “The National Science Education Standards stated, “Science distinguishes itself from other ways of knowing and from other bodies of knowledge through the use of empirical standards, logical arguments, and skepticism (NRC, 1996, p. 201). It becomes necessary for the teacher to assess in order to determine how the student is thinking. “As students develop and … understand more science concepts and processes, their explanations should become more sophisticated … frequently reflecting a rich scientific knowledge base, evidence of logic, higher levels of analysis, and greater tolerance of criticism and uncertainty” (NRC, 1996, p. 117). As the student and teacher work together to correct misconceptions and build a more accurate and deep understanding of science, the skills learned become as important as the science itself (Atkin, 2002).”
Determining how students are thinking in a timely manner with enough foresight to adjust instruction is difficult in practice. Giving quality feedback takes time, and between Thanksgiving and Holiday Break, “time” is the ugliest of four-letter words. Adding simple-to-implement formative assessments like “Gots and Needs” helps students by increasing their metacognition (“What did I “get” today? What do I “need?”), giving them another point of contact with the material (putting it on the sticky note), and contributing to their feelings of “belonging” to a classroom of active learners (“Others “got” or “needed” the same things I did!”).
I wouldn’t send you into the trenches without a research-backed, workshop-utilized strategy that I have personally used. Here are a few ways I’ve managed to wreck and reconcile “Gots and Needs” in my classroom.
- Two sticky notes per student: putting them on one seemed to save paper but ended up being a sorting nightmare because I couldn’t effectively separate them.
- One folder per class, separate each classes’ sticky notes. I tried to put all “Gots” and “Needs” for all three sections of general biology up at one time and visit it at the end of the day. This failed miserably because I couldn’t tell if students “Got” things overall…or if it was one class…or if a whole class “Needed” something or just a few students across different classes. Save the headache: separate folders, separate posters, separate classes.
- No names: really. Students are more likely to write candidly and honestly when they know you aren’t going to punish them for their candor. Swallow the anxiety, recycle the snarky statements (if you get them), and enjoy the positive feedback knowing that it wasn’t coerced. The first time I did this was terrifying, but it has been both confidence-boosting and humbling to see more realistic feedback. Re-wording a frustrated student response into a best-intentioned “Need” and reading it out loud to the class can go a long way into building relationships with students who normally feel marginalized.
Short and Sweet:
“Gots and Needs,” took the place of using a “Ticket out the door” for my classroom because it’s easier to implement. Instead of having a stack of responses to grade every day, I now have a poster of sticky notes that are succinct and require almost no grading time. Feedback is automatic and takes place the next day without having to spend any additional teacher time, other than what it takes to peel the sticky notes off the wall and sorting them. Because of this strategy, student participation in formative assessment has increased dramatically and student metacognition is boosted. When a lesson is successful, “Gots” are focused around a central theme and “Needs” vary. Using this method helps to adjust pacing without major overhauling of your instructional day.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NSTA/NCATE Knowledge Base Supporting 2012 Standards: http://www.nsta.org/pd/ncate/docs/KnowledgeBaseSupporting2012Standards.pdf
Atkin, J. M (2002). Using assessment to help students learn. In R. W. Bybee (Ed), Learning science and the science of learning. (pp. 97-104), Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). 2012.NSTA Standards for Science Teacher Preparation.
National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press
Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017
The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.
Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!
Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017
Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.
If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. Learn More…
Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017
An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. Learn More…
Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017
by Jessica Sawko
January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.
California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing
The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.
Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017
by Jessica Sawko
The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…