Level up Pre-assessment
We are evangelists for planning lessons backwards as we discuss in chapter six of our recent book. Planning starts with assessing what would be outstanding progress for the range of students in the class. The teacher can then plan backwards. Identifying the series of learning experiences that will secure these outcomes.
Absolutely crucial to this planning approach is understanding the students’ own starting points – NB the emphasis on the plural. Every class will have a range of different starting points. Knowing this enables the teacher to pitch the level of challenge correctly for different groups of students. Recently, a teacher we were working with had a moment of ‘eureka’. They reflected on having no idea what the class knew already about the new topic being studied. As a consequence, the class ended up being taught content they already knew.
It is risky to plan on assuming a certain level of understanding given that students learn outside school as well as in it. Similarly they have the capacity to forget learning from previous years. Furthermore, for secondary school teachers, one KS3 class may include students who attended as many as ten different primary schools.
Much better to develop the habit of pre-assessing students. Pre-assessment means finding out what students know already. It can take as little as ten minutes at the end of a topic and provide vital information to plan for the next topic. Information that will enable the level of challenge to be pitched appropriately. If the challenge level is too low for different groups of learners, then so will engagement. If the challenge level is too high, the class may disappear into ‘the pit’ never to be seen again!
Given that it is crucial to pre-assess students, here is our latest 4by4 to help levelling up in this area.
If you do try them out, let us know how you get on. Tweet us any questions, challenges or comments.
Remember we tweet a new 4by4 for teachers on the 4th of each month. Last month’s 4by4 was ‘Level up Understanding Performances ‘. This can be found here.
June 4th 2013