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5 Monitoring Techniques That Deepen Student Learning
By Carla Moore
For years, we’ve had a serious problem in education. The heavy emphasis on high-stakes testing has prevented teachers from getting timely, actionable evidence of student learning. Ultimately, when a test score, issued after a student is no longer in a given classroom, indicates that the student did not meet the expectations of the standards, it’s too late for the classroom teacher to provide any additional support or do anything about it.
Fortunately, the tide is changing. Schools are focusing on short-cycle formative assessment to monitor student progress throughout the course of each and every lesson. This way, teachers can stay informed about who’s learning and who may need additional help before the end of the lesson—and before the first quiz or test.
Dr. Dylan Wiliam has said, “Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of intended outcomes.”
Student monitoring also helps to clear up misconceptions, so learners don’t go home and rehearse errors in their homework. The closer to instruction the feedback and adjustments occur, the more likely students will reach the intended goals of the lesson. Over the year, this brings about student mastery of the standards.
This impactful teacher practice helps teachers know how their students are progressing on a daily basis, allowing opportunities to provide extra support if needed. The possibilities for implementation are endless, but here are five monitoring techniques that teachers are using to deepen student learning:
1) Entrance and Exit Tickets
As students arrive and/or leave the classroom, require them to demonstrate mastery of key parts of the content. For example, a math teacher’s entrance or exit ticket could consist of three problems of varying complexity, giving the teacher a clear picture of each student’s level of understanding, as well as where his or her understanding may have been altered.
2) Student Reflection
Have students communicate what they know, what has helped them learn, and what they’re still unclear about. This gives educators clear insight so they can make adjustments and plan the next steps in their teaching. It also gives them opportunities to help students revise their knowledge and clear areas of confusion. Best of all, they now know what part of their instruction was most helpful to students.
3) Revising Knowledge
To deepen their knowledge, students must be able to identify what they know about the critical content and recognize how their understanding has evolved. A myriad of activities can be done in small groups to get students discussing their own learning processes and solidifying the revised knowledge in their minds.
4) Accountable Answers
Effective student monitoring provides more than a snapshot of how the majority of the class seems to be doing. When teachers require all students to respond to a question, they can effectively gauge each learner’s understanding. They can quickly display responses on whiteboards or vote anonymously. You may even have them walk to the corner of the room that corresponds with their responses, essentially “voting with their feet.”
Another good way to help students grasp their learning targets is by having them summarize what they’ve learned. This immediately shows teachers which students need an adjustment in instruction. It can be as simple as asking students to summarize in quick phrases or a teacher might spontaneously have them provide descriptors for a particular character, person, or concept from the lesson.
An example of how to integrate the 5 monitoring techniques with a student-directed tool
Most formative assessment tools are teacher-directed: the teacher sends out quiz questions or polls for the students to passively answer. It’s a missed opportunity for deeper learning and students don’t experience the full power of formative assessment.
Students need a tool that encourages the 5 techniques above, where they can reflect on and deepen their own learning.
Research shows that student-led formative assessment is significantly more effective at increasing student achievement compared to teacher-directed formative assessment, with a recent review reporting an effect size that meant students who scored at the 50th percentile in the control group would have been at the 73rd percentile if their classroom had used student-initiated self-assessment (Lee et al., 2020) – read more research here.
IE’s Student Evidence Tracker tool does what no other formative assessment tool does: it gives students an active role, builds their capacity as learners, and develops student agency. It encourages student-led monitoring.
Here is how Student Evidence Tracker helps accomplish each of the 5 monitoring techniques:
- Entrance and Exit Tickets: Students can upload evidence of mastery to the tool throughout the lesson, not just at the beginning and end.
- Student Reflection: Teachers can easily share learning targets and criteria with students, who use them to self-assess their own learning.
- Revising Knowledge: Teachers have a dashboard where they can see student progress and give quick feedback, which students use to revise their work and discuss with peers.
- Accountable Answers: The dashboard shows which students are online and engaged and which students are not self-assessing.
- Summarizing: Students can upload a summary of their learning as part of their evidence, which the teacher can review and verify.
You can use these 5 techniques with Student Evidence Tracker no matter the learning environment – virtual, hybrid, and in-person. It’s a great example of a tool that not only monitors students but also authentically deepens learning.
Student Evidence Tracker
Technology tool for self-directed student learning and easy monitoring for teachers