New Community Center & Certification Program

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The Community Center

We are excited to announce that next week we will be introducing a brand new community center where all our educators can connect and collaborate to improve learning for students. Nine educators have pioneered it and it's been awesome to see the different Formative ideas and resources they've shared with one another. In addition, we think that it's awesome that teachers use a variety of other tools and methods to engage their students. So we've encouraged our pioneers to extend their collaboration beyond Formative and they have risen to the challenge. We can only imagine what will happen when we invite all our educators to join the community and we are about to find out!

Some of the awesome educators who've joined our community in the past few days!

Some of the awesome educators who've joined our community in the past few days!

The Certification Program

Along with our new community center, we are rolling out a brand new certification program and it's unlike any other that we've ever heard of. We believe that in order to use Formative and pretty much anything else to the best of your abilities, you must actively learn from other inspiring people. And so, being Formative certified means that you effectively collaborate with other educators to constantly improve your use of Formative as well as other tools and teaching methods. With that, becoming a Formative Certified Educator is not about passing a single test or submitting a portfolio of work, but earning achievement badges naturally over time through your pursuit of learning and collaboration in the community center. And, becoming Formative certified is not simply a form of recognition, but an active certification where you unlock opportunities to collaborate with other certified educators on a deeper level. These are other passionate educators who've truly demonstrated their desire and ability to collaborate within the community center. Becoming Formative certified is not a finish line but the beginning of a new experience.

What's Next?

We are going to be inviting all of our educators to join the community on November 7th and to celebrate, we are going to be hosting a live kick-off webinar where you will be able to learn about community center and certification program from our pioneers. And in the spirit of collaboration, we will be able to discuss any ideas and feedback you have as well.

The Formative Nine

Leading up to the kick-off event, we believe that there is no better way to get you excited for the community center than by highlighting all the awesome things that our pioneers (a.k.a The Formative Nine) are doing there and behind the scenes. Here they are!

Well, that's it for now! We are excited to start this new chapter in the Formative Community with you!

 

 

 

2017–2018: What We’ve Been Up To and Where We Are Headed

By Kevin Mcfarland (Co-Founder Formative)

I wanted to personally reach out now that the craziness of the first weeks of school is starting to settle down. If you’ve been with us for a while, you may have noticed many updates to the site, the inclusion of Premium Upgrades, and, sadly, more than our fair share of bugs. Hopefully this message will give more clarity into the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes and into why you’ve seen some of the changes you have.

The Beginning of the School Year & Our Focus on Stability

First and foremost, I and the entire team at Formative are so grateful for the swell of interest we’ve received from teachers everywhere, and we’re also extremely sorry for coming up short in multiple ways. As a team of former educators, we know how harmful even the smallest disruption can be to a classroom. Sadly, the issues over the past month were larger and more frequent than they should have been. So what happened?

Simply put, we didn’t anticipate the number of teachers and students that would use the platform simultaneously and we weren’t setup correctly ahead of time. A few core technologies we were using limited the amount of information that could flow at any given time, so the pipeline clogged very quickly. We worked hard and fast to either move away from these or improve their configurations, depending on the situation.

With that, I could not be more proud of our team and the response of our educators. With your help, we’ve remedied the worst of these issues, sped up response times, and have stabilized performance across devices. Things still aren’t perfect, but they’re consistent and we couldn’t have done it without you. All in all, we’ve made just over 300 updates to the site since the beginning of the school year.

Our Commitment to Privacy and Focus on Driving Research in Education

I hope that you have come to find our platform is geared toward advancing the use of technology in a thoughtful manner in classrooms, while meeting them where they are right now. Through our time at UCLA and since, we have put a major focus on research-backed development. Today, we are taking this further.

With the support of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, we have partnered with the American Institute of Research and the Jefferson Education Accelerator to research what we call “Formative Teaching”. This is the act of utilizing data from everyday activities to drive interventions and strategy without taking the time from the classroom to do a separate assessment.

We hope to publish the findings of our research after this school year so that it will provide a valuable set of data for any educator’s pedagogic strategy. To allow for this and other work with research organizations, we have updated our Privacy Policy at www.goformative.com/privacy. If you read this, you will find that it does not affect any student data in any way and we will be extremely protective of any other information shared with these organizations.

Along with research, we in general wanted to show our commitment to keeping your students’ information safe so this summer, we signed the Student Data Privacy Pledge! This is a great movement that many ed-tech companies have joined and we’re so happy to be a part of it.

We know how important this is for schools and administrators as well, so we implore you to share this with your team either as they dive into our platform or discuss privacy in general. And if you’re proud to be a part of this with us, please feel free to share it on social media using this image!

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Now that things are back on track, we are continuing our push toward an expanded feature set and a more robust platform not only for your classroom, but for your school. This is why you’ve likely seen more “nudges” toward our Premium solution. But before going into what that is, I want to let you know what it means to us.

Why We’ve Introduced a Premium Option and What Premium Means for You

Premium means the opportunity to sustain our platform for any teacher in the world. It also means the ability to expand our team, our vision, and continue making an amazing platform to help you help your students grow. My Co-Founder and I began building Formative from graduate school in UCLA only a few years ago and are so excited to be helping so many classrooms around the US and the world.

So you may have missed the announcement during the summer, but we wanted to officially introduce you to our Premium Teacher and School/District Licenses! I’ll explain some core details here, but you can also learn more at goformative.com/pricing.

The goal of this package is to help you:

  • Align formative assessments and other activities to standards
  • Track student growth across any daily activity that you’re already doing
  • Use daily data to drive your strategy more responsively, instead of waiting for the big tests
  • Gain deeper insights into student thinking and better prepare for testing through new Advanced Question Types

Two changes that some of our long-time users probably noticed are the new limitations on Upload & Transformation of documents and on the Exporting of results from a formative. These features in particular have a cost associated to every time a teacher uses them, and we decided to instill the limits after much debate. Limiting these became one of the most important pieces to making the free tool sustainable. We have promised to keep the core of Formative free any way we can, and upgrades by educators and schools are making that future a reality.

But we don’t want you to think that all of the updates and benefits are only going to those that upgrade. We asked for your feedback on what order to build these features, and as a big Thank You, we want to give something to all of our educators:

  • Multiple Selection Questions will be available for Free!

We asked your opinion and the most requested Advanced Question Type was the Multiple Selection question. As you may have noticed, we’ve decided to include this in the free version for all educators. We know that this is one of the most important of those question types for the end of the year, and we hope this will help out those who don’t have the opportunity to upgrade.

Thank You

Once again, thank you so much for being a part of this journey with us. Whether you utilize our free platform, upgrade to premium, or our research helps your school, we strive to help your classroom in whatever ways we can. This year has surely started with a bang, and we’re looking forward to growing with you and your students through the remainder.

 

One last note (sorry for ending on a cliffhanger); Please keep a lookout for an exciting announcement in the coming days!  

 

Sincerely,

Kevin

A Spooktacular Formative!

By David Kwan

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With Halloween right around the corner, excitement is building in classrooms and schools everywhere. Students are no doubt gearing up for Tuesday night, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there! We made a three-question formative that you can use to learn more about their interest in Halloween and put spooky twists on your lessons! Click here to grab a copy of it and read on below for ways to use the data that you get from each question!

The Questions

  1. “Are you going where a costume this year? If so, what are you going to be?”
  2. “What are your favorite Halloween-themed stories, books, and/or movies?”
  3. “Do you have any ideas for incorporating Halloween into what we are learning right now?”

By letting students share their costumes and favorite media, you will discover things that students are naturally interested in and can feature them in different learning activities.

By asking them for ideas of how Halloween can be infused into what they are learning, you turn the tables and let students play a part in lesson design. It’s also a great way to let students make connections between what they are learning in class and their lives outside of classroom. For example, you could let students make predictions about how much candy they will get and based on the data, let them find the class mean, median, and mode! Now that’s a treat!

The Efficient 21st Century Classroom: Meeting the Needs of Feedback with Formative

By Formative Educator Daniel Woleslagle

Daniel teaches 6th grade!

Daniel teaches 6th grade!

The process of education is an ever-evolving entity. The world of a student twenty years ago is almost unrecognizable today. Often, when I think about this, I forget that twenty years ago was only 1997. In 1997 there were no Ipods, no MP3s, no digital tablets, no modern social media, and encyclopedias still filled library shelves. The daily routines and interactions of our students were no more than fleeting thoughts of inventors or science fiction. How can we expect our students to learn in that same environment? Unfortunately for many there is little thought given to asking a group of students to sit in the same classrooms and learn in the same manner as some of us did in high school. Our perception of education tools must evolve beyond pencil and paper. 

Perhaps the greatest challenge that educators face today is understanding that students do not interact with each other in the same manner that we did at their age. For sure, this could be a lengthy discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of modern technology, but if we truly embrace the education of today’s young people we must be willing to understand their learning process. They live in a world of the instantaneous. Everything that they need, want and experience is little more than a few clicks and at most a few seconds away. Shouldn’t their interactions with education come from a similar place of rapid reinforcement. There has been significant research into this in an attempt to better understand how the modern classroom can be at it’s most efficient. One such ongoing study is that of Dr. Paul J. Riccomini from Penn State University. Dr. Riccomini focuses on Response to Intervention Instruction in Mathematics. One of the key elements of this study is “more frequent progress monitoring of those students in need” (Riccomini, 2010). This is where I believe that Formative can be extremely valuable. 

In my classroom, I use Formative not only in getting feedback to my students, but also in getting feedback to my parents, administrators and myself. When my students are reviewing or assessing on Formative, I have an unobstructed view into the progress of each and every student. 

Single Question View of student answers during a math assessment

Single Question View of student answers during a math assessment

 Being able to see every student’s answers as they progress through their work gives me an opportunity to intervene and support almost instantly. If I see that a student has missed the last two or three problems in a math assessment, I have the ability to see what key idea that student is missing. This allows me to directly address that individual student on their level as they are working through the problem. This makes their learning more impactful, and increases the odds that they will retain the information that we discuss. In years past, the student would work on the assignment, turn it in, wait for me to grade it that night and return it the next day. So, a full day later they receive a paper with a failing grade. This does not motivate them to start from square one in figuring out what they did wrong. More often than not, they will feel dejected or “stupid” and tell themselves that they just “can’t get it”. By correcting them as they work, I am able to fix their often minor mistakes instantly and give them the opportunity to practice the material correctly. 

I have the privilege to teach a 6th grade, self contained, classroom. Often, I have parents who want feedback on how their students are doing that is more than a report card. With Formative, my parents can see exactly how their students did on an assignment, and are able to work with those minor concerns at home. This also helps my students and parents know exactly where they are standing grade-wise at any given point. You see, this feedback is more than just a grade. It is an intervention. 

Of course, some of the greatest need for feedback is for myself. Whether I am using an Exit Slip, a class survey, or looking for areas of reteaching as a whole class, I have access to those individual question and assessment scores without sifting through stacks of papers or creating a new matrix to organize it all. Imagine, instant feedback. When I review a test or assignment in my class I love how I am able to turn off identifiers and correct answers and as a class we can study the answers that the class gave without judgement. We look for common answers and discuss the misconceptions that led to them. This helps my students know that they are not alone in the mistakes that they have made. 

In all, Formative has given me a way to efficiently and instantly engage my students on an individual level. I have found that my students are more engaged in the material and have taken a higher interest in fixing mistakes and bettering their scores. This feedback has allowed them to work with individual issues and not entire chapter tests or bulky assignments. Whether they are on an Ipad in my room, a smart phone on the bus, or discussing the assignment with their parents and friends at home, they have an educational tool that meets them on their level and in their instant digital world. 
 
Riccomini, P.J. (2010) Response to Instruction and Intervention for Math. Retrieved on 5/22/17     from PDEconference.com. 

 

Preparing For College with Formative and Monsters University!

Teachers discover creative ways to apply Formative everyday! For example, Heather Roberti is helping her elementary students prepare for college by letting them explore Disney's Monsters University website, which has essential information they'd find on an actual college site, in the style of the Pixar movie! She hyperlinks to different parts of the "school website" and students record what they learn about admissions requirements, academics, and campus life in Formative! She can use those insights to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Kudos to Heather for finding such a fun way to teach her students how to navigate a college website and find important resources!

Monsters University: http://bit.ly/2qoDjGQ
Heather's formative: http://bit.ly/2r1bIxs

Making Thinking Visible

The other day, Jeremy Tuller provided his student with the angle of elevation to the top of a tree. His student drew the tree, a right triangle, and applied trigonometry to find the height of it. We love when teachers use Formative to help students make their thinking visible and all the interesting insights that emerge!

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A Great Way To Engage Students In A Text...Before They Read It!

Lisa Scumpieru recently discovered a great way to use Formative while engaging her students in "The Great Gatsby". She inserts quotes from what they have yet to read and let's them guess their meaning! This is awesome because it helps students infer based on what they know about characters, make real-life connections, and get excited to find out what happens next in the story!

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Using Formative, Lisa can project different guesses to enhance before and after reading discussions. Plus, her colleague and fellow Formative Educator, Katie Lingg, was able to observe, learn, and take these great pics!

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Team Goose Chase with Formative!

This is such a fun idea for peer learning! 5th grade teacher Kelsey Rupsch uses the Goose Chase app to create academic scavenger hunts and awards points to teams based on their progress. We were thrilled to hear that she had applied this to Formative, having her students collaborate to complete math challenges as review! Kelsey was able to give them immediate feedback via Formative and after they overcame each challenge, they documented their success by taking a group selfie on the app. Congrats Orange Team!

How To Effectively Use Data To Drive Instruction

Using data to guide instruction is the key to both student and teacher success. Purposeful instruction with specific interventions allows for students to feel successful in the classroom. We love this visual from Four O Clock Faculty talking about using data to guide your instruction. So important for us to remember these tips. What is your most effective and favorite way to use data in your classroom? Share your tips with us!

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Embedding FlipGrid So Students Can Share Video Reflections!

Recently, Joe Marquez (Formative Educator), discovered that you can embed a Flipgrid into Formative. The benefit is that students can create and compare video responses without leaving their formative. For example, Joe embeds it at the end of science lab formatives so students can reflect upon what they learned from each station and learn from their peers.

We could imagine using this powerful hack/appsmash for peer learning across content areas, from number talks to Spanish dialogues! How would you use it? We'd love to hear your ideas!

How to embed something in Formative: http://bit.ly/2onjzUA
Flipgrid: https://info.flipgrid.com/
Joe's example: http://bit.ly/2p36aUC

How Will You Solve This Problem?

One of the major reasons teachers use Formative is because their students can use our draw tool to share their individual thinking. This detailed student evidence allows teachers to make learning more personalized and interventions more meaningful.

Kristen Leiher illustrates this by posing a Greatest Common Factor world problem on Formative and encouraging students to use different strategies to solve it with a combination of words, images, and text. The responses are fuel for a student-centered discussion. By discussing them, students can learn from their peers and expand the ways they think about math!

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Teaching Students How To Craft Complex Questions

Ever heard of Norman Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Levels? Essentially, they represent how deeply you must know something to complete a task. The 4 levels range from simply recalling facts to making value judgments about experimental methods you use.

They are extremely useful for crafting the questions you ask students and determining whether they are learning as deeply as you intend. What's neat is you can teach your students about DOK so they are able to both self-assess and peer-assess effectively!

Ms. Sweiss helps her Ss actively learn about DOK by letting them create level-aligned questions based on reading passages. She uses Formative to project the emerging questions that students come up with so that they can can give peer feedback before actually using them. Learning about learning=awesome

Fostering Responsible Digital Citizenship

It's never been easier for students to connect and collaborate online. With the ease of access that students have to technology, it's important to engage them in thinking about the digital learning environment they want to create for themselves and their peers.

Middle School Science teacher Angie Card does it with Formative! As shown in the pic below, she asks her students how they can improve the internet. It's an open-ended question that students can respond to by typing, drawing, or inserting media. It can spark great class discussions about what it takes to be a responsible digital citizen!

Formative x Seesaw App Smash: Differentiation & Student Growth Tracking

by David Kwan

Have you ever tried to simultaneously use Formative and Seesaw? It's an awesome combination for differentiating learning and helping students track their own growth.

As shown in the visual below, Formative Educator Pamela Rountree uses both for her 5th grade flipped activities! Students easily access a formative based on what they need to practice via a quick or QR code! On Formative, they then watch an instructional video at their own pace and create live responses that Pamela can use intervene. Lastly, they submit a response to their Seesaw portfolio and record an audio explanation of their work!

We hope to release our growth tracker for both teachers and students to use soon! In the meantime, this is an awesome app smash workaround!

Mashup Math

by Angela Gonzales 

Have you seen MashUp Math on Facebook and Twitter? If not, you have to check them out. They've got awesome brain benders, low floor- high ceiling problems, and lots of engaging activities for your kiddos. We love taking a look at the problems of the day and embedding or adding them to a formative. This way, we know our kiddos are engaged in content and us as teachers can hold them accountable, provide real-time feedback, and have results to last and inform our teaching. Check them out today!

 

Assess and Dab

by Angela Gonzales 

We snagged this awesome visual for our math teachers from educator, Graham Andre'. He shared this math assignment with his students and we loved the "buy-in" that it created for his kiddos. Who doesn't want to learn about math when you get to do the bottle flipping challenge and the dab? Once we saw this visual, we thought immediately about uploading it to Formative and using it for math. That way, students are engaged and excited in their material and we, as teachers, are also able to obtain immediate results of their understanding. Two for the price of one. What are some other fun and creative ways we can tap into our kid's interests and also get them working in content specific areas? Do you have a favorite method for "Teaching Like a Pirate?" Share with us!

Homeschool in the modern world…

By Formative Educator Kimi Wolf

A resource for all!

Can I just start out by saying that Go Formative is an awesome tool?  It’s been a big help over the past few months. We started homeschooling 3 years ago, almost all the time I was either typing out the work and printing it out or having my daughter write it out.  After a while it started to get frustrating, for both of us. It was so hard to keep her focused and wanting to write out the work.  Her hands hurt her a lot some days, so writing hasn’t been easy for her.  Being able to do the work with Go Formative makes it so much easier for her. ( Now if only I could find an essay program that would guide her toward better essays).  I knew that she needed a technology class as well, and typing her class work would be a good addition for that very reason.

What made us choose Formative?

I spent nearly two weeks looking all over the web for the perfect fit for us. That’s when I came across Go Formative!  I checked it out, put some work up for her, and she loved it! Her grades have gone up, and she looks forward to her classes!   It used to be that she would procrastinate and come up with so many excuses why she didn’t want to do her classes, now it’s easier.  Since she can do it all online, she understands it better and is more willing to do her classwork.  Talk about a great asset for the homeschooling families like us. Now if I can just get her to use scratch paper for writing out her math problems we’d be golden!

It’s a great asset in the classroom...both home and public school!

With Go Formative I can put up images of a graph, or a whiteboard explanation of a problem, and the math block is awesome!  With the math block, you can put in code, and enter in the math problems to not only make them easy to read, but oh so very spiffy. I mean, seriously, it looks all professional. Here, have a look, this is one of the lessons I made for her.

Go here http://new.goformative.com/join and use this code XMHWRZ


I’ve made quite a few of the lessons available for others to use.  Mostly we have math lessons, but there are the occasional science, literature, and social studies tests.  I’ve even been able to help a friend of mine in another state tutor her daughter in math with the lessons I’ve written up!

Doesn’t that look nice?  I would show you all some of the whiteboard work...but, seriously, you all don’t need to see my crazy chicken scratch. :)  On second thought...here’s an example of the white board...with my chicken scratch and all. Lol

There’s also this part called instant feedback where you can send notes to the students.  We don’t use it all the time since she does her lessons right there with me in the room.  But, when I grade her work after she goes to bed I use it, mostly to give her ideas and let her know what a great job she’s doing!  Having that allows teachers to help their students that are home sick, with their homework, or even taking a distance learning class.  It’s an asset to the world of education.

Getting help from the formative team!

Yes, I stumbled my way through learning it, but the guys at Go Formative were so helpful! I asked a lot of questions, and I got all the right answers.  They helped me to learn the coding for the math block, not to mention they’re there to answer any future questions I may have! 

Want to reach out to Kimi and share your own ideas for using Formative for homeschooling? You can contact her on Google + by clicking here!

The Benefits of Sharing Formative With Parents

The other night, teachers at Kennedy Middle School showed parents how they use Formative in their classrooms! Sharing Formative with parents is a great idea because not only can you demonstrate how it helps you provide individualized support for each student in the classroom, but you can also start to collaborate with parents to support students at home.

For example you can host virtual office hours like Formative Educator Lisa Burkhart! She notifies parents that she'll make a formative visible for a few hours each day. This allows students and their parents to review their responses, scores, and the feedback you give, together. Plus,since all their formatives are stored in their account, it never goes missing! What a great support for student organization and parent-teacher conversations!

Got ideas for get parents involved with Formative? Please share!

Let Students Identify Their Own Misconceptions with Formative

When teachers ask students why they love Formative, students often say they like being able to share their own live responses and getting quick feedback. By providing individual support to students, teachers have a huge impact on learning and we are honored to be a part of this process.

What's even cooler is when students are given the opportunity to identify their own misconceptions and independently determine the next steps to learn more. Roxy, an awesome Math teacher, uses the Formative summary view to do just that! Students can spot which questions they need to revisit and concepts they need to review. Here's one of her student's reflections on the impact that Formative has on their learning process:

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