Formative assessment is a crucial component of successful learning and teaching across all curricular areas. Research indicates that the development of formative assessment can produce “significant and often substantial learning gains” and can raise standards of achievement (Black & Wiliam, 1998:3,12). When used effectively, it helps teaching professionals build an accurate profile of a pupil’s learning and ensure that appropriate support is made available as early as possible. While educational literature outlines a wide range of formative assessment strategies, academics suggest that formative assessment can only be truly effective if practitioners each find their own way to incorporate these techniques into their unique teaching style and classroom environment (Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall & Wiliam, 2004:21). Having used a variety of these techniques during my career so far, I have become particularly interested in the use of Show-Me Boards as a method of formative assessment in my classroom.
Show-Me Boards are a popular active learning resource within my department and can be used to check for understanding at any point during a lesson. Fisher and Frey (2007) emphasise the important role of checking for understanding in the classroom, suggesting that most learners will sit quietly rather than tell a teacher directly that they do not understand. In order to address this, teachers must therefore adapt their questioning methods to ensure that all learners need to engage their thinking skills and participate in the lesson to produce an answer. By using Show-Me Boards, teachers have an opportunity to gather data about the understanding of all learners in their classroom and react to their needs in real time. They can also directly involve learners in the assessment process by encouraging them to notice and rectify mistakes in their own work and honestly reflect on their progress. As such, I wanted to consider in more detail how I use Show-Me Boards in my lessons and what effect their use has upon pupils’ learning experience.
This enquiry aims to investigate the use Show-Me Boards have in my classroom.