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Learning For Us: Formative Assessment

Learning For Us: Formative Assessment


Overall learning goal

Concluding a year of seminars exploring various teaching and learning theories including Visible Learning, school culture and resistance to change, This final Seminar aims to familiarise participants with topics related to Formative Assessment.

The learning goal is to become comfortable with and share their acquired knowledge on the two subtopics of feedback and self-assessment & goal setting and begin to transfer their learning into a teachable format.


The theme of formative assessment is the third and final topic covered at the Lead Data Team (LDT) seminars, concluding a year of seminars exploring various teaching and learning theories including visible learning, school culture and resistance to change. For this seminar on formative assessment, two subtopics are identified; Feedback and Self-assessment & Goal Setting. The current topic is a natural follow-up to the work the LDT has done on data teams and PLCs.

Throughout the two day seminar, and maintaining alignment to the Evidence Based Practice (EBP) Project’s Initiatives for the current year, participants spend the majority of the time in individual and group activities. The activities are designed to help members reflect on existing knowledge and experiences as well as move their practice and the project forward in order to continue building capacity among and support education staff across Quebec.

The EBP Project’s goals for the LDT are: To support school board teams and Schools; Information gathering & needs analysis; Capacity building and professional development; Transfer of knowledge (WEB); & Scouting.

Instructional design


The facilitator introduces the topic of Formative Assessment and breaks down the two days’ learning into the two subtopics which will be covered; feedback and self-assessment & goal setting.

Three feedback stations

Three feedback stations set up around the room are introduced and participants are invited to visit these stations over the next two days and give their input, which will be reviewed at the end of day 2 and used for further planning and information. The three stations are:

1: Five EBP Strands

2: Book Club

3: EBP – What’s In It For You?

Warm up

Warm up: Participants are asked to post a 30 second  ‘shelfie’ video featuring a synopsis of a book they would recommend, and why. These ‘shelfies’ are to be viewed at the end of day 2.

Day 1: Activity 1 - Learning for Us

Day 1: The ‘Learning for Us’ activity on the theme of formative assessment is introduced to participants. The activity will be divided into three steps over the two-day seminar: Step 1: Shared Literature Review; Step 2: Transfer of Knowledge; Step 3: Formative assessment – How did we do?

Step 1

Activity 1 - Learning for Us, Step 1: Shared Literature Review: Working in two groups, focussed either on feedback or self-assessment and goal setting,  participants are asked to establish group norms and then read and share visual summaries (e.g. concept maps) around the theme of Formative Assessment. Summaries should seek to answer a number of set questions.

A short YouTube video of a group of giraffes diving from a high diving platform is shown.  The group is then asked to react to what they have seen. After listening to the reactions, participants are informed that the video has been chosen to give a “creativity kick” to the next task.

Step 2

Activity 1 - Learning for Us, Step 2: Transfer of Knowledge: To transfer and transform the knowledge acquired from the readings into a teachable format.  

In order to teach what feedback is, groups are asked to use instructional design principles to find an interesting & creative way to transform the theory into an interactive learning task. Participants begin the activity with a five-minute brainstorming session on ideas for a teaching tool. The groups are then each given two cards identifying a set of specific constraints. The group is to select & apply one set of constraints in designing their activity. Participants are urged to explore media formats other than a “stand & deliver” format or a PowerPoint presentation. Each group produces a learning activity that respects the given constraints.


Participants are asked to reflect on what they have learned during the day and to record this in their self-reflection journals.

Day 2

Day 2: The facilitator recaps the previous day’s activities, including the production of a short review of key books & ideas through shared literature readings & the Giraffe video (making sense of something that does not make sense, where the unexpected happens & expertise is transformed into something else).

Activity 1 – Formative Evaluation

Activity 1 – Formative Evaluation: Learning for Us, Step 3: To provide feedback for improvement. Participants are asked to come up with a set of criteria for what constitutes good learning feedback. An observer is assigned to comment on the overall process. In turn, each team presents their learning activity, along with an overview of their groups’ readings and the core concepts that these readings cover. Using the established criteria, teams give feedback to each other on their tools.  At the end of the activity, the observer makes general comments on the presentations. The result of the activity is the development of a set of criteria for feedback on the tools.

Activity 2 - feedback stations

Day 2: The three feedback stations set up around the room are re-introduced & participants are invited to visit these stations to give their input, which will be reviewed & used for further planning and information sharing.

Activity 2 - feedback stations:

Station 1: Five EBP Strands: The purpose of this station is to collect informational data to be used in aligning the EBP Strands to the current context regarding Professional Development (PD) & support, and to better inform decisions regarding the EBP Project. In order to collect the necessary information, participants answer five relevant questions. A roundup of the information gathered is fed back to the team.

Station 2: Lead Data Team (LDT): What's in it for you? Why are you a member of the LDT? This station provides an opportunity for self-reflection, compiles information & gathers a global picture of participants’ perceptions of their membership in the LDT by asking participants to reflect on four guiding questions.

Station 3: Book Club: Participants are asked to vote on which book(s) to read for the next three seminars from a selection of five books posted, along with their descriptions, and to identify other notable topics of interest. Chosen books are listed in references.

Activity 3 - a problem of practice

Day 2: Participants have an opportunity to support a colleague to resolve a problem of practice. The dilemma addressed here is how to get ‘buy-in’ from all staff members when attempting to build capacity and create positive changes.

Activity 3 - a problem of practice: The problem of practice four step consultancy protocol is introduced;

Step 1: Presentation of the challenges faced (4 minutes)

Step 2: Clarifying questions (2 minutes)

Step 3: Discussion and recommendations (20 minutes).

Step 4: Presenters’ reflections on the feedback (4 minutes).

Activity 4 - ‘Shelfies’

Activity 4 -  ‘Shelfies’: In order to provide a creative way for the LDT members to share a personal review of a book that influenced their practice during the year, each participant is asked to produce a 30 second ‘shelfie’ video: a personal review of a chosen book, taken in front of a bookshelf. The ‘shelfies’ are then put online and viewed by all participants.

Activity 5 - Website Presentation

Day 2: The website responds to an issue of communication & visibility. It will make tools readily available and will showcase the work of the LDT and school data teams. Models supported by research will be incorporated as well as some of the reflections and transfer of knowledge, and how, based on reflection, we can do things differently. The website is an ongoing process.

Activity 5 - Website Presentation: An alpha version of the EBP Project website is presented for general feedback.


Participants are asked to reflect on what they have learned during the day and to record this in their self-reflection journals.


The facilitator congratulates three LDT members on the publication of their article in the CEA magazine: Raising the Bar: Improving board-wide graduation rates within a results-based management model.

Looking ahead

The next seminar topics and dates are discussed.


Participants are asked to evaluate the seminar using two debriefing strategies: