afl (22)

Do they know if they know?

Here's a quick and easy way to analyze how well you are applying AFL principles in your classroom:

If a parent were to ask his or her child how they were doing in your class, could the child give an accurate, detailed, and specific answer about his or her progress?

If you are regularly providing descriptive feedback to students then they should be able to tell their parents not only if they are doing well or not, but also what their strengths are, what they have mastered, and in what areas they still need improvement.

Of course, many young people - because they are young people - will tend to answer with a simple "Fine" or "I don't know". However, if we could magically control for the idiosyncracies of youth, the question remains, could your students specifically and with detail tell their parents how they are doing in your classroom?

If the answer is "No" then it probably means you are not giving enough feedback - which in turn probably means that you are not assessing them regularly enough. Or perhaps it means you need to focus on training your students to better use the feedback that you are giving.

Don't confuse a student being able to report on his or her grade with a student being able to answer the question in detail. Being able to say, "I'm making a B" is very different from being able to say, "I've mastered grammar but am having trouble with analyzing poetry."

So what can you do to give your students more descriptive feedback so that they can better answer the question?
Read more…
Assessment FOR Learning reaches its most effective level when students are able to use assessment feedback to guide their own learning. Many activities that teachers are already using in their classrooms have great potential for this type of use. What makes the difference in the "AFL-ishness" of an activity is often not as much the activity itself as it is the way the teacher communicates its purpose to the students.

Pam Carter, an Ancient World History teacher at Salem High School, has taken a traditional activity and increased its AFL capacity by very purposefully training her students how to use the activity to assess their level of mastery.

As Pam teaches her students about the time period from the Paleolithic Era to the Agricultural Revolution she stops periodically to have students assess their level of understanding. They do this by completing portions of a 2-sided worksheet called the Ancient World History Guild (see images below or click on link below to download a pdf version of each page). As they move through the lessons/unit, students have to use their knowledge to answer the questions.

What makes this particularly "AFL-ish" is the fact that the questions are grouped into categories. Based on what you can answer you may have reached Apprentice Level, Journeyman Level, or Master Level. Students are trained to do more than just answer questions. They are trained instead to also assess how well they have mastered the content by the level they have reached. Students can use this worksheet as a study guide that will compare for them what they currently know with what they need to know to reach the goal of Master Level. In other words, they can use assement-elicited data to make decisions about their learning - AFL in a nutshell.

This is a perfect example of how AFL is not really about what assessment you use - it's about HOW you use the assessment.

Page 1

Page 2
Read more…

My daughter's 7th grade English teacher at Andrew Lewis Middle School uses a time-tested easy-to-apply simple AFL strategy that motivates my daughter to work, helps her to learn, and ensures that her grade is an accurate reflection of that learning.


Every Monday the students are given a pre-test on that week's spelling words.  If the student spells 100% of the words correct on the pre-test, then the grade is recorded in the teacher's grade book, and the student does not have to take the post-test.  All other students will take a post-test on Friday of that week.


Simple but effective.  Students receive feedback on Monday.  They now have the rest of the week to work on improving.  More importantly, though, is that they know exactly what they need to do to improve.


I'm going to brag on my daughter, Kelsey, for just a moment.  She is a terrific speller, and almost always scores a 100 on the pre-test.  Knowing that she can get out of having to take the post-test is a wonderful incentive for her to prepare for the pre-test.  When she occasionally misses a word on the pre-test, she becomes a very focused and motivated studier when preparing for the post-test.


However, her teacher uses the pre-test in a more powerful way than just as a motivator.  Since Kelsey almost always scores a 100 on the pre-tests, the rest of the week's focus on spelling potentially could be a waste of time for her.  However, her teacher turns the better spellers into spelling tutors during the week.  This gives Kelsey a much-needed opportunity to be a leader.  It allows her to have fun serving her peers, and it helps her peers do better on their spelling by providing one-on-one assistance that a teacher would have a difficult time providing during a busy school day.


Most teachers in America have probably tried pre-tests.  This is not a ground-breaking strategy.  That's the beauty of AFL.  To be a good AFL teacher doesn't mean re-inventing the wheel.  It means taking the best of what you already do and focusing your purpose toward providing meaningful feedback that gets used by both the teacher and the students.


One word of warning: You can completely mess up the benefit of this AFL strategy by the way you grade.  Please do not ever average the pre- and post-tests together or allow the pre-test to factor into the grade at all unless the student reaches the desired benchmark on the pre-test.  Otherwise, allow the post-test score - the one that reflects the outcome of the teacher's instruction - to be the one that is recorded in the grade book.

Read more…

A sure sign that you don't really get AFL...

Here's a sure sign that you don't fully understand AFL and how AFL practices will lead to your goal of helping students learn the content you teach:

You teach a primarily fact-based class or are currently teaching fact-based content - such as History, Biology, or Health - and the first time that your students are assessed/quizzed/tested/etc on facts it's on a graded assignment that goes into your grade book and is averaged with other assignments to determine a final grade.

Think about it for a moment.  AFL is all about assessment FOR THE PURPOSE OF LEARNING.  If you assess your students and put the outcome of that assessment into your grade book - WITHOUT PROVIDING STUDENTS AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE OR IMPROVE THE GRADE AS THEY MASTER CONTENT - then that assessment was for the purpose of determining a grade NOT for the purpose of learning.  

There is nothing wrong with assessing for the purpose of determining a grade.  You are required to do this as a teacher.  However, you are first charged with helping students learn.  Your students' grades should be determined AFTER your students have had ample opportunity to learn by practicing and failing and practicing again IF you want the grade to reflect learning.  If you give students notes on the facts of your content, have them take a quiz on those facts, assign a grade to that quiz, and then put that grade in your grade book to be averaged with other grades HAS YOUR ASSESSMENT HELPED STUDENTS LEARN?  

The answer is yes - it has helped them learn.  Now that they realize what they have missed they better understand the content.  We definitely learn by mistakes.  In fact, we need to give students more opportunities to make mistakes (see this post).  BUT IF THAT GRADE ON THAT FIRST QUIZ IS ETCHED INTO GRADE BOOK "STONE" THEN THERE IS NO WAY FOR THE FINAL GRADE TO ACCURATELY REFLECT LEARNING.  

Here's an example of what I mean: Let's say a student got a 75 on a quiz about people or vocabulary or dates.  If as a result of that 75 the student learns from his or her mistakes and could get a 95 on a similar quiz the next day, then it's safe to say that you have taught them - at least for the short-term - the content at a 95 level.  BUT THE GRADE IN THE GRADE BOOK IS A 75.  If you are satisfied with this - if you allow this to happen in your classroom - then it's safe to say that you don't really get AFL.  You're probably teaching as YOU were taught - or assuming that all students learn in the manner in which you learned - without really thinking about how your assessment strategies and grading strategies are inconsistent.  You've taught content, but you're just not really skilled at assessment.  You might be doing an excellent job of covering content, but you are not giving your students enough opportunities to practice.  Some of your students are probably experiencing a certain level of grade deflation that doesn't indicate the degree to which they are learning from you.

So what are some solutions?  How about if before you give and then grade the assignment that will go into the grade book, you first try one or more of these 4 easy AFL strategies:

  • Try starting each class or most classes off with a short 5-10 question practice quiz.  The practice quiz grade can go in the grade book as long as it can be replaced or improved by a later graded assignment.  I guarantee you that your students will master the content better this way than they would if you gave 1 summative quiz/test after taking notes on the content.  You could even give the same quiz several days in a row.  
  • Try ending each class with a quick check for understanding.  Take 5 minutes and make sure EVERYONE has grasped that day's main points/terms/vocabulary.  You might try this flashcard review method.
  • Use white boards once a week to see how well students are understanding the content.  Read here to see how this could work in your classroom.
  • Start off a unit by giving students a review sheet or rubric.  Then have them assess daily how well they understand the content.  Here's an example of a review sheet and here's an example of a rubric.

Here's my next question?  Why would you not try one of these ideas?  Or more importantly, why would you teach something, give a graded assignment on it, and then put that grade into your grade book without FIRST doing a meaningful AFL activity?  I can promise you this: If you give your students multiple opportunities to fail content and learn from mistakes prior to putting a permanent grade into a grade book, your students will start finding it easier to master the content in your classroom.  And getting students to master difficult content is what teaching is all about.

Read more…

The Power of Asking "Can You"

My daughter, Kelsey, is an eighth grader at Andrew Lewis Middle School where she, as her sister before her, is blessed to have Beth Swain as her Geometry teacher.  


Geometry is proving to be a challenging class for Kelsey.  She is very intelligent and a hard-worker, and while Math is and always has been her favorite subject, she's starting off slower than normal in Geometry.  Thankfully, Mrs. Swain uses the kind of AFL strategies that help young people master content.  


So far, Kelsey's Geometry class has had 3 large tests.  Kelsey scored a D when she took the first test.  In many classrooms a large test like this would be used as a summative assessment; however, Mrs. Swain uses tests in a formative/AFL manner.  This means that the D was not the end of the story.  The grade could still improve since the purpose of the assessment was to promote learning as opposed to the purpose being to provide a grade.  Mrs. Swain chooses to use even large chapter tests formatively - like check-ups - rather than summatively - like autopsies.  After taking the first test, Kelsey's class was allowed to perform a "test analysis" that led to her mastering the content and earning a 95 A on the test.


Then came the second test.  Again, the content was not easy for her, but she worked hard.  Kelsey scored a C on that test.  Again, Mrs. Swain used the test in AFL manner, and Kelsey again was able to perform a test analysis which resulted in her understanding the content better and earning a B+.


So this brings us to the third test and the power of asking "Can You?"   On Monday, October 31, Beth Swain communicated the following message to parents via email:


Good afternoon!  The chapter 3 test will be this Friday with the vocab test being on Thursday.  To help students prepare for the test, they were given a "Can You"? sheet today.  If they can answer yes to all the "can you.." questions on the sheet by Thursday night then they should be prepared for the test.  If they can't answer yes then they need to practice those concepts so that they fully understand them.  Please make sure your child is making use of this sheet as they prepare for the test. 
As always, I am available in the mornings to help them if they need me.

As a parent, I was so encouraged to receive this email.  I don't know if your kids are like mine, but there seem to be a few standard answers to the questions my wife and I ask.  Those answers seem to be "Nothing" and "I Don't Know."  It's always nice to hear from a teacher information that allows me to ask more effective questions.  In this case, I was able to ask Kelsey, "How are you doing on your 'Can You' sheet?"  All week I was able to encourage Kelsey to make sure she was using the "Can You" sheet as it was intended.


More importantly, though, was the fact that this "Can You" sheet and the way Mrs. Swain used it enabled Kelsey to take better control of her own learning and studying.  She was given a tool that assisted her in assessing herself on a daily basis and then making decisions based on the feedback she received.  


So on the first test Kelsey scored a D the first go around.  On the second test, Kelsey scored a C the first go around.  On the third test - the one with the "Can You" sheet - Kelsey scored a B+ the first go around.  She told me that she felt much better heading into that test than she had on the previous two.


AFL strategies are rarely "revolutionary".  Rather, they are often as simple as asking students "Can You".  It's very encouraging to see teachers using strategies like this that empower parents to assist their children and that train students to assess themselves and to take ownership of their own progress.   


(For some other similar examples check out Using a Review Sheet in an AFL Manner and A Self-Assessment Rubric for Math.)

Read more…

SHS's AFL Journey

The City of Salem Schools just wrapped up its 2010 Summer Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy consisted of teachers, counselors, and administrators from throughout the division. The purpose was to plan for the upcoming year in a unified manner and to help the division cast a big picture vision.

AFL was one of the major topics of the 2 day academy. Salem High School had a chance to share with the rest of the schools about its "AFL Journey". This journey included the mistakes, successes, accomplishments and future goals related to implementing the philosophy of AFL into SHS's instructional practices.

The following link - SHS AFL Results for Ning.pdf - will open up a pdf version of the presentation that was shared.
Read more…

Ideas for AFL/SBL Exit Slips

One of the most common types of assessments used in the AFL classroom is the Exit Slip.  AFL teachers find this type of feedback helpful as they assess how successful their lessons are, as they gather data for differentiation purposes, and as they seek to better meet student needs.

The following picture is one used by a teacher at Salem High School.  She actually found it on Pinterest - one of the world's great educational resource depositories for sure!  Take a look at the exit slip and then scroll down to see more about how it is used.


Notice how this exit slip gives students very direct guidance as to what feedback they should leave.  Typically, this will lead to more productive and useful information than an open-ended question will.  Also, notice the Standards Based component of this specific exit slip.  Students are asked to rate/evaluate themselves on what is essentially a 1-4 scale.  This is helpful for moving students away from purely looking at progress in terms of the accumulation of points for the numerator and instead to thinking in terms of mastery.  However, you will need to train them on what the terms mean.  Below are descriptions of novice, apprentice, practitioner, and expert that need to be taught to students.  Once taught these terms, it would make sense for students to be asked to use them for many types of assessments.


Finally, here's an idea for how you could collect the Exit Slips.  Take a look at the picture below.  By having students place their Exit Slip into the appropriate folder, the teacher saves time gathering data on how the class as a whole is doing.

Note: The terms used on the Board below are different from those used on the Exit Slip above.  The pictures did not come from the same source.  However, the concepts align well.


So what do you think?  How could you apply these concepts and ideas to your classroom?  Are you already doing something similar?  What have you found works well or doesn't work well?  Have you made modifications to improve the practice?

Read more…

Using a Review Sheet in an AFL Manner

Over the past several school years as our school and division have focused on Assessment FOR Learning as a primary professional development topic, I have consistently noticed the following:

When I witness or hear about an excellent and highly effective teaching practice, essential components of Assessment FOR Learning are present.

 I know that might sound like too absolute a claim to be true, and perhaps I've witnessed some exceptions that I am currently forgetting, but it really seems to be the case.  At least some amount of what I have dubbed "The Heart of AFL" - frequent assessments, teachers using feedback to guide instruction, students using feedback to guide learning, and grading systems that allow practice to count as practice - seems to show up in every excellent teaching practice I see.

Recently I was in a meeting in which a group of teachers and a counselor were talking about a student's progress with that student's parent.  The teachers were explaining to the parent how their classes worked and what the student could do to be successful.  Anika Armistead, a Science teacher at Salem High School, explained to the parent that at the beginning of each unit she gives her students a test review.  Throughout the course of the unit, she has students assess their progress.  At least theoretically, by the time the test finally rolls around the students should have a personalized study guide as a result of the feedback they have given themselves.

Here's an example of the type of study guide Mrs. Armistead gives her students:



You probably noticed that this test review looks pretty much like a typical test review that could be or has been used in classrooms for years.  If you noticed this, you are exactly right.  You might remember from earlier discussionson this Ning that AFL-ishness doesn't depend on what type of assignment you give.  AFL-ishness instead depends on how you use the assignments you give.  This is a perfect example of how something as ordinary as a test review can be used in an AFL-ish manner.  And when essential AFL components are present - in this case, students using feedback to guide their learning and a grading system that allows practice to be used as practice - excellent teaching takes place.

Read below for Mrs. Armistead's personal account of how and why she uses test reviews in this manner:


A few years ago, I decided to create review sheets for each test.  I taught the unit, then a day or two before the test, I handed out the review sheet for the students to complete, check their answers, and ask for clarification on topics they weren't sure about.  Some students caught on that the review sheets could really help them, but others didn't and still scored poorly.

 Last year while I was out on leave, I got to thinking about how I could make these review sheets more useful for my students.  My review sheets were designed to show my students exactly what I expected them to know for the final assessment.  So I decided that I shouldn't wait until test time to let them know my expectations.  This year, I'm giving each student a copy of the review sheet at the start of the chapter.

I remind my students that the review sheet will not be collected, nor will it be graded.  I have heard this comment several times, "Then why should I do it?"  I've found that students often decide not to complete an assignment unless there's a grade attached to it.  I tell my students that the review sheet is their time to practice and that they will get the chance to prove what they know on the test that will be graded.  I know that some students won't complete the review sheet, but I'm not going to change something good for the few who decide not to take advantage of the chance to tailor their studying. 

When I give out the review sheet, I remind my students to use this to their advantage.  I recommend reading over the questions to see what the students already know.  As we progress through the unit, I periodically ask the students to pull out the review sheet.  I ask that students complete a section in class (like a chart or diagram) as a way to review something covered the day before, or I write on the board the numbers to the questions the students should be able to answer at that point in the unit.  

I tell them to try to answer the questions without using any notes or outside help the first go round.  I tell them that if they can easily answer a question, then don't spend too much time studying something they already know.  I also tell them that if they don't know the answer to a question, then they need to circle or star that question as one that needs more of their attention.  

By using this process, I want my students to see that by tailoring the review sheet to their needs that they will find how to best use their time.  Overall, they need to focus on the stuff they don't know (the circled or starred items) and just do a quick review of the material that they already know.  

Students are welcome to ask questions about the review sheet at any time.  For these questions, I try to guide the students to the correct answer without giving them the answer directly.  As we near the end of the unit, I let the students know that they should have the review sheet completed by a particular date, usually a day or two before the test.  At that time, I go over the answers with the class to make sure everyone has the correct answers to study.  I remind them again to focus on any questions they got wrong or weren't sure about.  

On the day we go over the answers, I try to walk around to see who has completed the review sheet and who hasn't.  This gives me an opportunity to target those students who didn't use the review sheet as intended.  If a student doesn't do well on the test, I suggest they try completing the review sheet as we work through the next unit and not wait until the end to just copy down answers.

Read more…

Recently I spent a few minutes in the classroom of SHS Marketing teacher Michelle Kovac.  Her Marketing students had just turned in projects that day.  


When I came into the class the students were in the process of evaluating similar projects turned in by last year's students.  Mrs. Kovac had given her students a rubric when they started the project.  Now she was having them use that rubric to assess the projects that had been turned in last year.  After the students assessed last year's projects they told Mrs. Kovac what grade they had assigned to the projects.  Mrs. Kovac then told them what grade she had given.  By doing this, the students learned 2 things:

1. They realized that they were harsher graders than Mrs. Kovac was, and

2. They realized exactly how Mrs. Kovac would be grading their projects.


This led to the students falling right into Mrs. Kovac's "trap".  After truly understanding how their projects would be graded, the students asked exactly what Mrs. Kovac wanted them to ask - "Can we have some more time to work on our projects?"  Mrs. Kovac smiled and told them that they had the rest of the class period to finish their projects.  With their new assessment-elicited data in mind, the students literally sprinted to their projects to add finishing touches.  It was joy to watch students so eagerly wanting to work on a project, and it would not have happened if Mrs. Kovac hadn't taken the time to train them how to assess.


A student named Zac then made a statement that "one-upped" Mrs. Kovac's excellent lesson plan.  Zac told Mrs. Kovac that next time she should let them assess the old assignments either at the beginning or half-way through their work on their projects.  That way they could learn from the assessment and make sure they had the best possible project ready to turn in on the due date.


Mrs. Kovac liked Zac's idea and told the class that that was exactly what she would do.


What a great AFL idea.  Can you apply this to your classroom?  Is there a way you could give students examples of the work you are asking them to do?  Could you then train them to assess it the way you do?  Would this have any impact on the quality of the work the students did for you?  In my opinion, the answer to all of those questions is "Yes".

Read more…

AFL Flashcard Review

It's pretty common for a teacher to finish a lesson and still have a few minutes left until the class period ends  Here is an extremely easy and practical way to turn those remaining minutes into a meaningful AFL opportunity.  

Instead of allowing students to sit and talk quietly until the bell rings, these few minutes can be used as a chance for the teacher to assess his or her students so that the teacher and the students know how well content was mastered that day - and so that they can identify areas that need improvement.  The use of AFL flashcards is a simple way to do this.

You will need to create a set of flashcards for each desk in your room.  There will be 2 cards per desk.  Card 1 will have an A on the front and a B on the back.  Card 2 will have a C on the front and a D on the back.  You might want to make a pouch out of paper and tape it to the edge of the desk.  The 2 flashcards can go in this pouch so that the students always have them handy.

Have you ever finished a lesson by asking questions about the lesson only to have very limited response from students?  Perhaps a small handful of students are answering your questions or even asking additional questions, but many in the room have mentally "checked out" and are just waiting for the bell to ring.  It seems as though the following question, "Do you have any questions about what we learned?" in student-language means "Go ahead and pack up and start forgetting everything we did".  Your new flashcards should change this situation.  

Ask all students to pull out their flashcards.  Begin asking the entire class questions about the day's content.  You could even ask about content learned on previous days.  Ask easy question, hard questions, simple questions, and complex questions.  Ask the type of questions you expect them to know for a test.  They will answer by holding up the appropriate flashcard.  You will be able to see how the class as a whole is doing and also how each individual student is doing.  The students will gain a more useful review than they would have from the normal question/answer period at the end of class, and, therefore, will be better able to assess their own level of understanding.

You could use the cards to represent various types of answers.  For example:

  • A,B,C,D could be multiple choice answers.  
  • A could equal true, and B could equal false.  
  • A could equal "I can answer that", and B could equal "I am unable to answer that".  
  • A could mean "I completely understand that topic". B could mean "I sort of understand but am not ready to take a test on it", and C could mean "I do not understand the topic".    



Read more…

This post is a follow-up to an earlier post. It will make the most sense if read in that context.

After reading over my recent post entitled What we WANT students to do v. What we TRAIN students to do, I began to hear in my mind (yes, I sometimes hear voices) questions that some people might have as a result of what I had to say.

The more I think about and experience AFL, the more I feel that I am challenging many of the norms of teaching. In fact, I often end up wishing I could go back to the classroom and do things differently. While I feel I was a very good classroom teacher, much of what I did and many of my practices were:

1. examples of what my favorite teachers had done, and/or

2. examples of the conventional wisdom of education.

Very few of my own teaching practices came about as a result of an overall educational philosophy. I am convinced that AFL is a sufficiently large and all-encompassing enough philosophy as to be worthy of being used by teachers to govern how they teach and create lessons.

As I learn more about AFL, therefore, I continue to find new challenges to the merit of the practices that many of my favorite teachers used and/or that are the conventional wisdom of teaching. Since I know I am not the only one out here whose practices developed from a combination of these 2 factors, I know that posts such as the one I recently made end up raising questions in the minds of many teachers. They are questions worth asking and worthy of answers. Here are some attempts to answer some of those theoretical questions:

1. You talk about internal v. external motivation, but isn't it human nature to be motivated by rewards? Are you saying we should completely change human nature and remove external motivations from our classrooms? Isn't that unrealistic?

I firmly believe that there is a role for external motivation in all aspects of life. As a believer in capitalism, I know that people are naturally motivated by their own good, and I have no problem with this. The Pilgrims learned a long time ago what happens when there is no incentive to work, and the same holds true today. The problem that I perceive lies in the overuse of rewards - in particular the overuse of grades as a reward. I would recommend reading Whale Done by Ken Blanchard. It compares the methods used by Shamu's Sea World trainers to family and business life - which parallel nicely with the classroom. Even when training animals to do tricks, multiple rewards are used. The trainers don't want Shamu to learn that fish are the only acceptable reward for a job well done. When grades are used as the sole or primary motivator in the classroom then the grade begins to become more important than the learning.

2. Are you saying we shouldn't give grades at all?

I am absolutely not saying that we should not give grades. What I am saying is that grades should not be used rewards - ex. do this and get a good grade. There's no reason to turn the whole world on its head by getting rid of grades. Perhaps there might be an idealistic benefit to it, but it's an unrealistic goal that doesn't seem worthy of my time. Grades are a part of schooling. They are not all bad. They should be used - PROPERLY.

3. So what's the proper way to use grades?

Grades should not be used as rewards. The way I see it, grades should be used for 3 main reasons:

1. To communicate how well a student is mastering content/skills so that the student can guide his or her learning.

2. To communicate how well students are mastering content/skills so that the teacher can guide his or her teaching.

3. To summatively communicate the students' final level of mastery.

When I first started teaching I did what my favorite teachers - and what the conventional wisdom of teaching - told me to do. I gave lots of grades so that no one assignment hurt my students.

Today, I would say that giving lots of grades is a good thing IF AND ONLY IF the grades are used for the first 2 reasons listed above. The problem with my grading was that all the grades went into the grade book. I rarely - if ever - used the feedback I received from the grades to guide my teaching. And I hardly ever attempted to train my students to view their grades as feedback that could help them guide their learning. These grades were simply used to average together and get a final grade.

The problem with that is that if I had been honest with myself I would have realized that many - if not most - of the grades in my grade book didn't reflect mastery. They were "practice" assignments or assignments whose outcome was negated by a later similar assignment. Therefore, there was no guarantee that the summative grade to which they averaged was representative of mastery.

This is why I am so thankful for AFL. It's much more than just another professional development effort that my school/system is undertaking. Instead, it is a philosophy that, when truly adopted, turns much of the conventional wisdom on its ear. It is a philosophy that, when applied to a classroom, will lead to teachers being more aware of student needs, students being more likely to take ownership of their progress, and grades that better reflect what they are meant to reflect - mastery.

Read more…
Here is a conversation you will probably never hear:

Sea World Trainer 1: "I am so tired of these seals. They always want a fish every time they do anything!"
Sea World Trainer 2: "Tell me about it. It's like they don't understand how important the show is. They only care about getting fish!"

The other day I was talking with Jamie Garst, a Chemistry/IB Biology teacher at Salem High School. He mentioned that he recently decided to use Smart Pals (a plastic sleeve that allows an ordinary piece of paper to be used like a small dry erase boards) as a way to review in his classroom. (See previous post on using white boards to review) This was his first experience doing this with his students. As he was instructing them on what to do he told them that they would also need a blank sheet of paper. As he started to tell them the reason why, the kids said, "We know - it's to keep track of what we don't know." This was the first time Jamie had done this with his students. Therefore, their knowledge of what to do is evidence of the fact that someone had trained them. It's not natural for students to get out paper to assess their understanding. These kids had been trained by another teacher or other teachers in the school.
As educators, what do we want students to do?

We want them to learn for the sake of learning.
We want them to work hard because it's the right thing to do and because it leads to learning.
We want them to be internally motivated to do their best.
We want them to care more about learning than they do grades.

I think you'd be hard pressed to find a teacher who wouldn't agree that he or she wants those previous statements to be true for his or her students. However, we train them quite differently.

We train students to learn for the sake of getting a grade.
We train them to work hard or else they'll get a bad grade and because it leads to good grades.
We train them to be externally motivated by grades.
We train them to care more about grades than learning.

Think about it for a moment. The typical classroom at any grade level is not all that different from the seal show at Sea World. The student does the work; he gets a grade or points. The seal does the trick; he gets a fish. The student doesn't do the work; he doesn't get the grade or the points. The seal doesn't do the trick; he doesn't get the fish.

Have you ever assigned something and had students say, "Is this graded?" Have you ever felt like your students wouldn't work as hard if they weren't getting a grade? Have students ever complained that you weren't grading them after they put effort into an assignment or activity? Does it ever seem like all the students (and parents) care about is the grade on the report card or transcript?

Look back at the start of this post. Wouldn't it be ridiculous for the Sea World trainer to complain about the seal always wanting a fish for the tricks it does? Why is it not just as ridiculous for an educator to complain about a student always wanting to know if something is graded or about a student being motivated by grades rather than learning?

Perhaps the answer is because unlike the seal, the student is capable of rational and logical thought processes and should, therefore, know better. However, think about how students have been conditioned from day 1 in school. Do the work - get a reward. Now consider that this has been the case for generations. Is it any wonder that our students tend to be more externally than internally motivated? Is it any wonder that they tend to focus so much on grades and lose sight of the bigger picture of learning?

So what can be done about this? Is it possible to change years of conditioning to get to what we really want from students? Of course, if all teachers in the educational system made a change then we could definitely alter the situation; however, that's probably (definitely) a bit of a stretch. So can students be trained to be more internally motivated and to look at grades differently?

The story of Jamie and his students tells me that the answer is "yes". From my experience, the typical student expectation of a review activity is that the teacher will tell the student everything he or she needs to know - or ask all the questions he or she will eventually be asked - and then the student goes home and studies everything that will be on the test. (Or in some cases, doesn't study at all.) However, what Jamie found out was that his students were being conditioned to expect something different. They now expected that when a review was finished each student would leave class with a personalized list of what that student had not yet mastered. This personalized list would become the student's unique study guide. What Jamie experienced is an example of the fact that student expectations can be changed.

So what if teachers in your building stopped practicing AFG? AFG is Assessment FOR Grading. AFG is what I did very intentionally as a new teacher. I assigned lots of graded assignments so that I could have lots of grades in my grade book. The main purpose of my assignments and my assessments was to get grades in the grade book which could then average together to get a final summative grade. I used points as rewards and withheld points as a consequence. This use of AFG would naturally lead to my students thinking that everything they did had to be graded. I was training my seals - I mean, students - to work hard for the fish - I mean, grade.

AFL is so different. AFL is about assessing and assigning to gain feedback. It's about teachers and students using that feedback to guide learning. The whole point of the assessments and assignments is learning - thus the name, Assessment FOR Learning. This site is full of resources and ideas for applying AFL principles to the classroom.

I think that we can train kids to think differently about grades. It will take effort and a lot of change on our part. It will take great consistency, but it can be done. Until we truly begin applying AFL principles with this goal in mind, does it make sense for us to complain that students react exactly as we have trained them to react?

The best part of this is that if we alter their view of grades, we will ultimately increase their level of learning.
Read more…

An AFL Homework Practice

Sitting this morning in a Student Support Team meeting I heard Beth Moody, a math teacher at SHS, explain her homework practice. It was a wonderful example of AFL in action.

First of all, homework did not count against you. After all, why should practice count against you? Not doing homework or not doing it well does not inherently indicate how well students are mastering content.

Secondly, doing your homework assignments will lead to you receiving an extra grade for the grading period. This is a nice reinforcement of the idea that practice leads to learning. Unlike extra credit, an extra grade does not overly inflate the summative grade, but it does provide an incentive to practice.

Finally, and most AFL-ish, was the fact that Ms. Moody gives students practice problems for homework and then tells them to do as many or as few from each section as they need to do to ensure that they understand the concept. She is putting the students in charge of their own learning by giving them a means to assess themselves and tailor their practice accordingly. Rather than simply assign students 10 practice problems, the students might instead be given 5 examples of one type of problem and 5 of another. Then the students are told to do as many of each type as they need to. So while one student might do 1 of each, another might do 2 of 1 type and 3 of another, and still another students might do all 10.

What a great way to individualize the practice process and give students ownership of their learning!
Read more…

A great reminder for students

Kudos to Salem High School math teacher, Erin Stenger, for thinking to put a sign like this right next to her doorway where students will see it each day as they leave her class.

It has been noted before on this website that for AFL to truly have its greatest possible impact, the students need to be using assessment-elicited feedback to measure their own progress and guide their own learning. Like most things that we want students to do, though, we must train them to do it. This is especially true for AFL since most students (just like most parents and most teacher) tend to look at grades from a summative position.

If we want students to view grades as feedback that guide their learning rather than just get averaged together to determine a grade, then we must 2 things:

1. We must grade and assess in a formative manner rather than just collect a bunch of scores to average.

2. We must train our students.

This picture in Mrs. Stenger's room is a subtle but important example of this. Most importantly, it reveals the fact that AFL is a core philosophy that permeates the way Mrs. Stenger runs her classroom.

Here are some other blog posts that deal with the same idea of students knowing what they know:

1. Do They Know If They Know?

2. Did AFL Guide My Instruction Today?

3. Assessment FOR Learning - A quick and easy indicator

4. AFL - It's about students taking ownership of learning

Read more…
What a privilege it is to be able to observe great educators practicing their craft!

Recently I had a chance to be in the classroom of Michelle Kovac, Salem High School's Marketing teacher. She was teaching Advanced Marketing. Two things stood out to me.

1. Mrs. Kovac did an excellent job of weaving AFL strategies and techniques into her classroom.

2. The strategies employed by Mrs. Kovac were highly successful IN PART due to the strategies themselves but MAINLY (in my opinion) due to the enthusiastic manner with which she employed them.

Let's start with the second thing I noticed - enthusiasm. In my interactions with teachers at various schools over the years I have often heard teachers bemoan the fact that while they have tried to use creative or new strategies they have been unsuccessful due to the weak level of their students. I would be overly "Pollyanna-ish" if I said that students had no bearing on the ability of a teacher to be effective. However, what I have noticed more often is that strong students mask poor teaching much more frequeently than weak students destroy great teaching.

Mrs. Kovac's Advanced Marketing class was an example of this situation. Advanced Marketing students are a diverse group. Some of them have been excellent students over the years. Some have struggled greatly. Some have had no disciplinary issues while others have had quite a few. Here's what they have in common, though. They are seniors in the spring - a time when seniors can be difficult to motivate.

I was amazed at what I saw in class that day. Mrs. Kovac's enthusiasm for the content was absolutely infectious. She acted as though Marketing was the coolest thing in the world, and as I sat in her class I began to to agree! She was a cheerleader, an entertainer, and a motivator - and the kids appreciated it. It was obvious that this was who she was in class on a daily basis because the kids thought it totally normal. Try faking enthusiasm on an occasional basis and students will see right through you.

The atmosphere is Mrs. Kovac's class was almost the way I envision an elementary classroom. What I mean is that these kids - these seniors - were excited to be there. They laughed. They joined in. When it was time to start working on projects they actually got up and RAN to get their supplies. One kid begged Mrs. Kovac to let her correct her quiz from the day before - not for points, not for a higher grade, just to be able to be correct. Mrs. Kovac finally "relented" and gave the student "permission" to correct her quiz!

When one student asked a particular question Mrs. Kovac said, "I feel a song coming on!" The entire class broke into a song about marketing. Seniors in high school willingly singing a song about Marketing in class - wow! That's what enthusiasm can do. It's what Parker Palmer describes in his book, The Courage to Teach. A teacher can lift up a class with his or her enthusiasm if the teacher has the courage to step out from behind the wall of safety that educators often erect. The courage that Mrs. Kovac showed to be herself, to be enthusiastic, and to share her love of her content is what made the assessment strategies she used work so well.

Here are the strong assessment strategies used that day by Mrs. Kovac:

Do Now Assignment - Predict Your Score
On the smart board were the numbers 3, 7, and 5. There were also 3 statements: "Guessed Correctly", "Guessed Wrong - Scored Higher", and "Guessed Wrong - Scored Lower". Students had to match a number with a statement. The day before students had taken a quiz and had predicted what their grade would be based on how well they had prepared for the quiz. For this day's Do Now assignment students had to match the numbers with the correct phrase. In other words they were trying to figure out that 3 students had correctly predicted their grades, 7 students had guessed wrong but scored higher, and 5 students had guessed wrong and scored lower.

So what are the assessment strengths here? Mrs. Kovac was training her students to analyze their preparation which in turn should help her students understand the role that preparation has in a student's success. This sort of feedback will hopefully encourage students to prepare more effectively in the future. Going back and analyzing how accurate their predictions were should help this knowledge sink in even more. It also gave Mrs. Kovac an opportunity to build them up by (enthusiastically) pointing out that they tended to underestimate themselves.

Why Did You Miss What You Missed?
When Mrs. Kovac handed back the students' quizzes she asked them to go over them and write down next to each question they missed why they missed it and what messed them up. She was not going to go over the quizzes with them that day. Instead, she told them that she first wanted to collect their feedback on why they missed what they missed. She told them that this feedback could alter how she goes over the quiz with them. She wanted it to be a learning experience rather simply listing out correct answers. When she went over the quiz with them the next day she wanted to be able to reteach/explain to them what they NEEDED to hear so they wouldn't miss the question next time around. This was a great example of a teacher collecting assessment data to guide instruction. She also told the students that she wanted them to get feedback for themselves so that they could ask appropriate questions. (By the way, this was when the one student begged to be able to correct her quiz.)

Analyzing the Competency List
Marketing classes teach based on a Marketing competency list the same way other courses might teach specific state or national standards. Mrs. Kovac had her students pull out their competency lists. The fact that they all had them and quickly pulled them out spoke volumes! Then they went through the competencies that they had recently covered and each student rated each of those competencies on a scale of 1-5 based on how well the student understood the specific competency. These students were fully involved in analyzing their own progress. Their competency list was becoming a study guide for the end of the year and a way for them to take ownership of their studies. Mrs. Kovac's students obviously did this sort of activity regularly because they were very familiar with the competency list. One of them even pointed out that she had forgotten to mention 2 of the competencies they had covered. Another kid excitedly pointed out that they were almost done with the list. When Mrs. Kovac (enthusiastically) asked, "Doesn't it feel good?" A chorus of students answered, "Yes!"

Mrs. Kovac's classroom is a good example of small ways to use AFL strategies to give students ownership of their own progress. Would those strategies work in any classroom? Yes - but they will work BEST when coupled with genuine enthusiasm.

Read more…

Grading (as it relates to AFL)

Grading and assessment are two distinct yet overlapped topics.  This site is dedicated primarily to assessment - the getting and giving of feedback that helps teachers adjust their teaching and students adjust their learning.  However, it is impossible to talk about assessment without occasionally discussing grading.  Therefore, grading posts and resources pop up on this site from time to time.  As a way to help members find these resources, this blog post has been created as to serve as a collection of grading links.  Anything posted on this site related to grading can be found on this blog.


Also, please note that as more examples are added to this site, they will also be added to this blog.



Blog Posts:


Stories in the News:

Faculty Meeting Conversations

  • 11/12/14 - Pretend You're A Grade Coach
  • 2/24/16 - Using AFL/SBL to Analyze a Common Assessment Practice: Earning Points Back on a Test
  • 1/11/17 - Applying SBL Philosophy
Read more…
When faced with a new concept it is natural and necessary to attach meaning to that concept. Sometimes when we find an understandable example of that concept we begin to confuse that idea for the concept itself. As Salem High School and the City of Salem Schools strive to master the concepts of Assessment FOR Learning, it is understandable that this will happen to some degree.

For example, earlier in the year we at SHS discussed a strategy of having a final test grade or portions of a final test grade replace the quiz grades that led up to that test. (Read about that here.) This method made the quizzes into practice assignments that prepared the student for the test. I began to receive some feedback from people saying that AFL wouldn't apply to their classes because this strategy for whatever reason did not fit into their classroom or teaching style. While this was a good example of AFL, it was just an example. AFL is bigger than any one practice, which led to this post on that topic.

Similar questions have arisen over time in regard to various other procedures that have been held up as examples of AFL. My post on philosophy v. procedures attempted to deal with the fact that AFL is much bigger than any one procedure.

Recently I have received feedback that shows that the practice of allowing students to retake tests and quizzes is being seen as the crux of AFL. While I have heard from many teachers who have used retakes as a way to allow students to learn from feedback, as was the case with tests replacing quizzes, AFL is bigger than retakes.

To help illustrate this I thought it might be useful to describe how AFL might have impacted my own classroom - if I hadn't left the classroom 6 years ago for the dark side of the force (administration)! :)

In my 9th Grade World History classroom my assessments and my grading were very closely related. While many of my graded assessments were AFL-ish (although I had never heard of AFL back then) I realize that I did not do enough assessing solely for the purpose of learning rather than grading. Here's how I assessed/graded:

1. Almost Daily Homework Assignments - 10 pts/assignment
Each assignment directly prepared students for the quiz the next day.

2. Almost Daily Quizzes - 30 pts/quiz
Often the same quiz was given several days in a row so that students could master the content.

3. Almost Weekly Tests - Range of 100 pts/test to 500 pts/test
Tests would build on themselves. A 100 pt test might cover Topic A. A 200 pt test might cover Topics A and B. A 300 pt test might cover Topics A, B, and C, and so on... By the time we got to the larger tests the students tended to have mastered the content because they had been quizzed and tested on it over and over - not to mention what we had done in class with notes, activities, videos, debates, etc.

So what would I do differently now that I have spent so much time grappling with AFL? Here are the changes:

1. Change in point values:
  • Homework would still be given but would either not count for points or all homework assignments would add up to one homework grade of approximately 30 points. Another idea I have contemplated would be that at the end of the grading period students with all homework completed would get a reward, perhaps a pizza party, while students with missing assignments would spend that time completing their work.
  • Quizzes would still be given almost daily but would now only count 10 or 15 points each. In addition, if a student's test grade was higher than the quizzes that led up to it I would excuse the quiz grades for that student.
  • Tests would count more. In the class I taught the tests were used as the ultimate gauge of mastery learning. The tests would continue to build on themselves but would probably start somewhere around 300 points and build up to around 800 points.
2. Change to How Quizzes are Viewed:
  • To build on the point I made above, the quizzes would be excused if the student's test grade was higher. The quizzes would be considered practice grades. Students would be trained to not fret about quizzes but to instead use them as ways to gauge their learning. I might even borrow Beth Moody's GPS idea occasionally and allow students to retake an occasional quiz; however, this would probably not be the case for most quizzes since whenever possible I would be repeating quizzes anyway.
  • The goal of quizzes would be to practice for the test. In the past I viewed the quizzes more as grades unto themselves. The problem with this, though, was that if I had four 30 pt quizzes before a 100 pt test, then the quizzes added up to more than the test. Adding in the four or five 10 point homework assignments further got in the way. Yes, they were assessments that helped the students learn, but they also had an inappropriate impact on the grade. They could help the student master the content as evidenced by the high test score while simultaneously lowering the student's grade.
3. Students Assessing Their Own Progress:
  • If I was in the classroom today I would add an entire new element of students assessing themselves. I would want students to take control of their own learning. and to know what they do and don't know. I would then want them to use that knowledge to guide their own studies.
  • One thing I would do would be to make sure that everyday (if possible) the students and I would both receive feedback. As I prepared my lessons I would ask myself the questions posed in this earlier post.
  • When I reviewed with students for tests I would change my method and adopt a strategy similar to this one used by Paola Brinkley and many other teachers in our building. (I would probably find a way to turn it into a game since I love playing games in class.)
  • At the beginning of each unit/topic I would give students a rubric like the one in this post. At some point during most class periods I would have the students use the rubric to assess themselves and see how well they are mastering content. They would then use the rubric as a study guide as described in the post.
  • I would also have students analyze their grades regularly so that they would know how well they needed to do on a test to reach their grade goal. (Implied in this is the fact that I first would have students regularly set goals.) I would use a strategy similar to this one used by Lewis Armistead.

Notice that my new plan for my classroom doesn't look incredibly different from my old one. I am assessing daily - which I was already doing - but I have changed my view on grading - it's no longer primary as it once was. Assessing is now different from and more important than grading. I have added more opportunities for students to assess themselves.

Notice that retaking tests was not a part of my AFL plan. Students are already taking multiple tests on the same content. Those tests are building in point value so that if you master it by the end that is outweighing your performance at the beginning. You are also being quizzed regularly and regularly assessing yourself. There really isn't a need for retaking the test. (Please realize that this does not mean that retaking tests should be frowned upon. It simply isn't the only way to use AFL.)

So does this mean that the plan I have outlined is how AFL should be done? NO NO NO NO NO! It's how AFL could be done. It is guided by AFL philosophies and ideas, but those same ideas could lead to very different procedures in other classrooms and with other content. AFL is big enough to go beyond certain practices and instead guide all good instructional practices.

Any thoughts?
Read more…
Members of this network may have noticed a video that seems out of place on an educational social network. The video is of a post-game interview with NBA player Allen Iverson. Why in the world is that on here?

Salem High School teachers on this Ning know the answer to that. When our school first started taking a serious look at AFL, we realized right away that how you chose to grade assessments could negate the learning that they generated. In other words, if you use AFL strategies well they will lead to an increase in learning. Students and teachers will be using feedback to guide learning and instruction. However, if we want the student's grade to reflect the learning that occurred, we must be very careful and deliberate about how we grade (or don't grade) the assessments we give. Allen Iverson - believe it or not - has something to say about that. Watch the video and then I'll explain.

(If the video on this post didn't load right away, try reloading the page.)

It's been awhile since I've seen that video. Could someone refresh my memory about what he was "talkin' 'bout"? Oh, that's right - PRACTICE!

First of all, my posting this video is not in ANY WAY making a point about the need to practice when you're on a team. I'm not AT ALL an Iverson fan. It's just posted because it gives us an image to which we can relate - We're Talkin' 'Bout Practice!

How does this relate to grading? Think about your grades and your assessments. How many of them are "practice"? In other words, how many of your assignments are intended to help students practice so that they can learn? I bet you that most of them are. Now let's think about grading. How many points to you assign to these assignments? What would happen to a student who mastered the content, as evidenced by your final graded assessment, but did poorly on the practice assignments?

Let's get more direct: How many students are failing your class because they either didn't do or did poorly on your practice assessments? Do you have students who can pass your tests - or whatever your final graded assessment is - but fail your class? Why is this? It's because their practice assignments - the ones that were supposed to help them learn - are counting against them. Never mind that they mastered the material - or at least learned it to a level above failing. Never mind that you taught them even though they didn't do all your assignments. Their practice is causing them to fail.

By the way - I'm not saying here that practice isn't important. I think students should practice everyday in class and every night at home. But should practice be graded in a way that allows a kid who learned the content to fail the class or receive a grade that does not represent learning?

The Winter Olympics just ended. Some gold medals were won by less than 1/10 of second. What if the practice runs were then averaged in causing the gold medal winner to get a silver? That would be ridiculous. Our goal is to get kids to be able to learn and perform. If they do this then it's because of the job we did. Why would we then take a bunch of practice assessments and average them in with the assessments that really counted?

If we use AFL to increase learning but then grade poorly, we can end up negating the achievement. Take a look at your grade book. Examine why some students are failing. Remember - WE'RE TALKIN' 'BOUT PRACTICE!
Read more…

AFL Presentation at VASSP Conference

If any members of this Ning are going to be attending the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals annual conference this week in Williamsburg, I would invite you to attend my presentation on The Heart of AFL.  It will be on Tuesday, June 28 from 1:30-2:30 and will repeat from 2:45-3:45.  Here is a link to the handout for that presentation.


Hope to see some of you there!

Read more…

Assessment FOR Learning on the Football Field

Sometimes when you are trying to understand how an idea applies to a certain arena, it helps to have an example from a completely different arena. In that vein, here is an example of how AFL strategies have been used in high school football. Football? Yep.

The Salem Spartans Football Team has enjoyed great success for many years. People who watch Salem play often comment about how consistently excellent the Spartans are. Year after year they win games, often beating teams that appear to have much more talent. It’s easy to say that coaching is the reason (in fact, coaching is the only logical reason for the year-after-year success), but what does Salem’s coaching staff do that makes the difference? I think a few quotes from recent news articles will shed some light on this.

This quote was in the Roanoke Times and World News on September 12, 2009, after Salem defeated William Byrd:

"I think we're a successful team because we study film a lot and we know when they're running certain plays," [Seth] Fisher said. "We set up a blitz when they were running the quick pitch. I knew it was coming and expected to get the ball. I went for the ball instead of the tackle."

Notice what this player realized. He realized that by studying he could learn. He realized that by mastering the basics of content he could then apply his knowledge to new situations and make correct decisions. This doesn’t happen by studying just a little, and young people don't usually come to realizations like this accidentally. Obviously the coaches gave a lot of feedback and opportunity for practice. By doing so they made the complicated easy. How hard is to predict what someone else will do? Not that hard once you have studied their tendencies and practiced how to react to them.

This quote ran in the same article about the same game:

Salem, stifled on the ground last week in a 35-0 win at Lord Botetourt, got its running game off the ground. Coles scored on runs of 33 and 9 yards in the first half, and Daniel Dyer added a clinching 16-yarder with 11:13 to play. "We got together as a team this week," offensive lineman Kyle Wilson said. "We were more serious ... all of us."

These players (actually, these students) learned that if you get serious and work hard you can improve. First they needed to realize that they had a need to improve. The Salem coaches helped them understand that despite a 35-0 win the week before, these players had a lot of work ahead of them. They gave the players feedback and guided the players’ practice experience. The result was not only another win, but more importantly, the players believe even more in the coaching staff and understand that the feedback they receive from the coaches will help them succeed. They would not have figured this out on their own or solved the problem on their own. They needed the coaching staff to devote practice time to improving from last week.

After Salem beat Cave Spring, the following appeared in the Roanoke Times on October 11, 2009:

Salem defensive back Hunter Thompson intercepted a pass from Cave Spring's Josh Woodrum on the Knights' first play from scrimmage and returned it 44 yards to the 2-yard line. "We went over that route in practice the entire week," Thompson said. "He looked at the guy the entire time. I just ran to it and picked it off."

Similar to the quote from Fisher, Thompson discusses the importance of practice. You can just picture the coaches going over and over the Knights’ pass plays. I’m sure that Thompson didn’t get it right every time. However, the coaches’ gave feedback and taught him and the other players exactly what they needed to know. Come game time, Hunter was able to apply his knowledge to a new situation. The coaches again made the complex become simple.

This quote was in the same article:

"Every time I see one-on-one my eyes light up real big," McGarrell said. "I'm thinking touchdown every time." "Every time we read single coverage, we're on the same page every time," Barnette said.

Again, the complex becomes simple. The players study the opponent. They practice. They mess up. They receive feedback. They practice again. The work is hard. The reward is great.

So what would it look like if AFL strategies weren’t employed by coaches? Frankly it would be ridiculous to even imagine. Can you picture a team where the coach doesn’t give feedback? A team that doesn’t work toward a specific goal of beating the opponent? A coach that doesn’t have kids go over and over things until they get it right?

I doubt you will ever hear a coach say:
“I told them what to do; it’s their responsibility to do it. I’m not going to baby them by going over and over things. I’ve already played high school football successfully; it’s not my problem if they don’t get it right. Back when I was a kid football players weren’t coddled by coaches who guided their practice and worked side-by-side with players to help the team achieve its goals.”

AFL is inherent within coaching. Players constantly receive feedback. Repetition is the norm. Coaches study film, analyze practice, and watch players – also known as assessment – so that the coaches can know what they need to do better and emphasize more so that the team can reach its potential.

AFL strategies – repetition, lots of practice AND feedback, teachers USING feedback to guide instruction, and students USING feedback to guide learning – should be just as common in the classroom as they are on the field or court.
Read more…

Blog Topics by Tags

Monthly Archives