For anyone in ELA, I would recommend using pattern folders to encourage students to find textual evidence. I found this idea on the Teaching Channel, which is an extremely practical and useful site for all educators. The pattern folders gets students, individually or as a class, to decide on common themes in a resource text. As they read, they pick out passages that match the theme and write these on sticky notes to go inside their folders. Not only does this help with a curriculum outcome but it is also a step in the research process if they were to complete an essay at the end. These folders can help students review. My goal for my students is that they can back up their claims with proof and I think this activity encourages this. Also, the teacher in this video noted that after a quick look at their folders and she can see where her students are and what they are understanding. I would personally use this as a job description for literary circles or as a bell work activity/routine to start the day or a “reading with a focus” activity.
David Peter Noskin’s article “Assessment: One Teacher’s Formative Approach” (2013) provides a wonderful English-based example of a unit with a formative assessment focus. Noskin used Hawthorne’s text to discuss big questions and accomplish curriculum outcomes. Within the unit, assessment was “formative and frequent with timely feedback” and students were evaluated at the end of the unit after they were given ample practice time (Noskin, 2013, p. 73). Noskin talks about the importance of letting students know the purpose of the learning but he created the rubrics on his own, something I think his students would have benefited from. However, I loved that the initial pre-assessment of a journal response was the basis of the final essay. Students engaged in journal responses, short essay responses and grammar lessons that focused on student areas of need, like inserting textual evidence, until their final essay was created. Activities built off each other and students received ample feedback instead of just receiving an essay topic and being told to do their best.
One thing I really took to heart is the idea that “the text is not the unit” (Noskin, 2013, p. 72). I think as English teachers we often forget this but we need to consider why we are studying a text and how it relates to the curriculum outcomes and our big questions. I also like Noskin’s honesty when he says he now realizes “that using an activity because it is fun ought not to be my sole or even main criterion: it must foremost align with one of my learning objectives. Then, I can determine how to make it fun and engaging” (2013, p. 74). In the age of Pinterest, this is something all teachers need to be cautious of.
For more information: Noskin, D. P. (2013). Toward a clearer picture of assessment: One teacher’s formative approach. English Journal, 103(1), 72.