“They know it for the quiz and then 15 minutes later they can’t use it properly.” How could they score so well on a scheduled quiz and then not use it correctly in a spontaneous classroom interaction? How could I make a more accurate appraisal of where they really are in acquiring a concept? How could I offer formative assessment on what they truly understand/know?
And so this year I began the “Pop Check-In”. When I first announced one in my Year 3 class there were looks of horror. “A pop quiz? You hadn’t warned us! A quiz? For marks?” So I explained what the ‘pop check in’ is and isn’t:
- It is a chance to see what you have in your head ‘right now’
- It is not ‘for marks’ but it is ‘for learning’
- It’s a chance for me to see if I have further teaching to do regarding this concept
Typically I “mark” the check-in that evening by putting a coloured dot next to response that needs another look and the next day ask my students to look at/correct the problem. They receive a ‘complete’ mark when this is done.
This works well but one day I returned them the same class and noticed the effect. I realized that I should be opting for immediate feedback and immediate coaching, especially for those students who have still not mastered the concept. In other words if I could pop-check then I should pop-coach. So now I find myself 5 minutes during the class – 5 minutes to quickly look over the check-in and return them that very class. For some it’s a quick look and often “I know where I went wrong!”. But for the others it’s a great time to revisit the concept. When students are working quietly I take a moment to individually help those who need the extra support.
Students tell me that they like this approach. That it really shows them what they know and some are surprised that they didn’t really understand the concept as well as they thought they did. They also say that it is a way to check in on their learning without a fear of it reflecting on their mark (their concern as always). For others it gives the confidence to know that they are expressing themselves appropriately and correctly. And I’m finding the quick coaching moments to be more effective because they occur right away.
The other day I announced a pop check-in and one of students turned to his partner and said “I told you we’d have one! She’s checking to see if we’ve got it!” And that’s formative feedback I’m happy to provide!