On Monday I had the great privilege of being a co-presenter at the Capital Conference in downtown Columbus with Dr. Mary Peters from Battelle for Kids. The Capital Conference is a yearly event held each November by the Ohio School Boards Association at the Columbus Convention Center. For three days, Board of Education members, Superintendent’s, Treasurer’s and Central Office Administrators from all across Ohio meet to learn about the various issues within public education.
The conference has multiple learning strands and Dr. Peters and I presented within the Administration strand. Our session was titled Boosting Teacher Effectiveness and centered on using a blended learning approach developed by Battelle for Kids to train all 732 Worthington teachers in Formative Instructional Practices.
My first experiences with Formative Instructional Practices were long before the terms existed. They were even back before Dr. Stiggins‘ work on Assessment for Learning became widely known. My experiences were during my doctoral work at Ashland University in the classroom of Dr. John Fraas a Trustees’ Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Business Administration. Dr. Fraas taught the doctoral level statistics course in which I was a student.
On the first evening of class Dr. Fraas informed my classmates and I that this was a doctoral level statistics course and his expectation was that we had all taken a Master’s level statistics course and an undergraduate statistics course. I had taken neither, and thus a large bead of sweat had formed on my brow as I was fairly certain I would not be able to pass this class and thus my goals of earning my doctorate would “crash and burn.”
The good news is, Dr. Frass understood the power of formative instruction. Each week he would begin by explaining in great detail the 6 to 8 learning goals we would need to know and be able to do by the next week. Then he would teach each of those learning target followed by our own practice of each learning target. When the class was over he would review the learning targets and would provide us with more practice opportunities to be completed at home. He made it clear that if we needed help on any of the 6 to 8 learning goals he would be available throughout the week. When class began the following week he would give us a quick assessment that would show him where he needed to review and where he could move forward with his instruction. Each week he followed this process and while the subject matter was very difficult what I needed to learn was so clear, and the opportunities that I had to practice were so focused, that even I learned statistics!
From that semester forward I was a believer in the power of formative instruction. If a student like I could learn doctoral level statistics I believed that using this pedagogy all students could learn just about anything.
Battelle for Kids has done an incredible job of helping teachers learn the same principles Dr. Fraas had used years ago. F.I.P. is setting clear learning targets, collecting and documenting evidence, providing effective feedback and helping students take ownership for their learning. In Worthington we’re working with Battelle for Kids to help all of our teachers implement these practices. We believe that this implementation is helping Worthington students to learn and grow at higher levels than ever before.
If you’d like to learn more at Formative Instructional Practices, Evening Street Elementary teacher Kate Kennedy is blogging about FIP for Battelle for Kids. Or you might want to follow our Worthington Instructional coaches on Twitter @wcsteachers.