Guidance for Supervising and Coaching
What to Look and Listen For
When formative instruction is used effectively to support student learning in TK classrooms, observers are most likely to see evidence of its use in brief verbal interactions between children and teachers and in the teacher’s observation of students’ activities and interactions. These interactions would most likely appear to be game-like and should be well embedded in developmentally appropriate classroom activities.
Here are a few examples of what you might see or hear as students and teachers actively engage in teaching and learning activities that incorporate classroom-embedded formative assessment and differentiated learning experiences.
- observing students (from the “sidelines”) in multiple settings while they are actively engaged in centers/ independent exploration, during outdoor play, while they are eating, etc. and possibly jotting notes;
- “dropping in” on children during independent exploration work periods to initiate quick, focused interactions (15-20 seconds) to assess understanding and identify needs;
making quick notes about student responses or observations during or just following group gatherings; and,
- referencing developmentally appropriate, interactive visuals posted around the room as scaffolds for formative assessment (e.g., blank Venn diagram posters for classifying/sorting, a large poster with Elkonin boxes for blending/segmenting practice or individual assessment, etc.).
- demonstrating visual evidence of engagement in response to teacher prompts or questions (as appropriate to their development/ linguistic/ cultural backgrounds).
- engaging students in conversation about their activities to assess their understanding. Teachers select questions that are aligned with both the task and the current developmental level of the child;
- Tell me about your __.
- Can you explain this to me?
- What do you notice about __?
- Can you make yours look like mine?
- How do you think this works?
- Can you show me another way to __?
- What do you think would happen if__?
- providing immediate feedback or “feed-forward” after observing or interacting to gather formative information/evidence to guide their “next steps; ”and,
- excusing children to line up by playing “Tell Me Something“ game: e.g., Tell me something
- you learned in our story.
- new you tried today.
- you did to help someone today.
- using language that reflects active engagement and responds to teacher prompts (as appropriate to their development/ linguistic/ cultural backgrounds).
- working with individuals and small groups to reinforce or extend learning during center time;
- finding non-traditional opportunities to have brief differentiated instruction conversations or interactions:
- during snack;
- at recess (as long as there is adequate supervision);
- referencing assessment note to guide her differentiated instruction interactions;
- actively monitoring other students as she interacts with her group; and
- using TPR and other visual clues and manipulatives to scaffold learning during differentiated instruction.
- working with the teacher to demonstrate visual evidence of engagement in response to the differentiated instruction (as appropriate to their development/ linguistic/ cultural backgrounds); and
- who are not working with the teacher to be focused on their tasks or explorations.
- reinforcing routines and orchestrating smooth transitions to maximize available instructional time;
- providing clear instructions for both teacher-guided and student-guided activities;
- using additional verbal scaffolds along with visual cues and manipulatives to build, reinforce, or correct conceptual understanding for individuals or small groups who have been identified through formative assessments;
- adjusting the pace of their instruction, the complexity of the language, or the amount of wait time to differentiate learning experiences for selected students; and
- providing extension or accelerated instruction for students who are ready for additional challenge.
- who are engaged and actively responding to the teacher’s instruction (as appropriate to their development/ linguistic/ cultural backgrounds)
Click here for a downloadable PDF of the above examples
Click here to see additional snapshots of classroom examples for Formative Assessment and Differentiated Instruction
Questions to Guide Discussions about Formative Assessment and Differentiated Instruction
The following questions are designed to prompt teacher reflection during coaching or supervision conferences. This list is designed to be a menu of options that includes questions that would be appropriate for teachers at various levels of implementation.
- How do you monitor student progress from day to day?
- How do you identify students who are struggling to keep up?
- How do you identify students who might benefit from extended or accelerated learning opportunities?
- How do you gather information to support our program assessment data?
- Given the linguistic and cultural diversity of our students, what strategies do you use to ensure that you have accurate evidence of the progress?
- Tell me about the relationship you see between formative assessment and differentiated instruction.
- Which formative assessment strategies have you found most effective?
- How do you share information from formative assessments with your families?
- How do you invite families to share information about their children that might inform your instruction?
- What is your greatest challenge in using formative assessment?
- What advice about formative assessment might you share with colleagues?
- How does your team collaborate to share information about effective formative assessment practices?
- How did you use formative assessment evidence to inform you decisions about differentiated instruction?
- How do you decide what adjustments to make during differentiated instruction?
- How did you prepare your students for differentiated instruction?
- How do you ensure that your differentiated instruction is culturally and linguistically responsive?
- How do you address the needs of students who are struggling to keep up?
- How do you address the needs of students who need enrichment or acceleration?
- How do you monitor the rest of the class as you provide brief differentiated interactions?
- What strategies do you use to group for differentiated instruction?
- Which differentiated instruction strategies have you found most successful?
- How do you monitor the effectiveness of you differentiated instruction?
- What advice about differentiated instruction might you share with colleagues?
- How does your team collaborate to share information about effective differentiated instruction practices?
Click here for a downloadable PDF of the above questions.