I am going to park some notes and quotes here temporarily that might be of some use to us.  Interesting quotes. Carl from my perspective a major component of formative assessment is to support metacognitivie processes of the learner. That is why Popham feels it is essential that learners be able to set some of their own learning goals. It seems to me that many of the quotes you have selected provide additional support to the idea of using formative assessment to support metacognition -- a good thing.

From John Holt's (1964) How Children Learn:

"Making judgements about how the mind or brain (they're not the same) works on the basis of a few (or even sixty-four) squiggles on a chart is like deciding what lives in the ocean by lowering and then pulling up a five-gallon bucket and seeing what you can find in it." John Holt
  • A reminder that any assessment is only a snapshot and cannot paint a comprehensive picture of what a person really knows. VJ -comments are in blue. Agree with this and formative assessment is one way of providing multiple snapshots on a "systematic bases" so that both the teacher and the learner can adjust. One of the things that I loved about Popham's book Transformative assessment was this idea that formative assessment can help the learner make decisions.

"The only way we will ever learn much about [the mind]—and even this will be highly incomplete and uncertain—will be to dive, swim about, and see what we can see in the deep waters of our own thoughts." John Holt
  • This one seems to speak volumes to the importance of metacognition in formative assessment.

"This kind of checking is not necessary, and it puts a child in a spot where he will feel that, if he says the wrong thing, he has done wrong and is in the wrong. I have seen kindly, well-meaning parents do this to young children, hoping to help them learn. Almost every time the child soon took on the kind of tense, tricky expression we see on so many children's faces in school, and began the same old business of bluffing, guessing, and playing for hints. Even in the rare case when a child does not react this defensively to questions, too much quizzing is likely to make him begin to think that learning does not mean figuring out how things work, but getting and giving answers that please grownups." John Holt

"A child's understanding of the world is uncertain and tentative. If we question him too much or too sharply, we are more likely to weaken that understanding than strengthen it. His understanding will grow faster if we can make ourselves have faith in it and leave it alone." John Holt

"To understand the learning problems of another person, particularly a child, we must try to see things as if through their eyes." John Holt

"Dumb questions not only insult and anger children but often confuse them enough to destroy some of what they have already learned." John Holt

"Asking children questions about things they are only just beginning to learn is like sitting in a chair which has only just been glued. The structure collapses. Under pressure, children stop trying to confirm and strengthen their faint hunched. Instead, they just give them up." John Holt

"The worst damage we do with all this testing is to the children's own confidence and self-esteem, their belief that others trust them to learn and that they can therefore trust themselves. For every unasked for test is above all else a statement of no confidence in the learner. That I check up at all on what you have learned proves that I fear you have not really learned it. For young children, these repeated votes of no confidence can be devastating." John Holt
  • I think these are all important things for teachers to keep in mind when crafting questions for polls and surveys for formative assessment. The wrong kind of questions might actually backfire when used for formative assessment. Better to ask honest open-ended questions, questions that lead students to ask more questions than simply quiz them on content. Carl an excellent point and I agree that lower order questions should be avoid, and that teachers can use polls and survey tools to explore the learner's perspective, to unearth how they think about a problem, situation, concept. It will be critical that the questions used in our BYOL model these exporatory type of questions.

"We act as if children were railroad trains running on a schedule...we say that if children are going to know so much when they go to college, then they have to know this at the end of this grade, and that at the end of that grade. If a child doesn't arrive at one of these intermediate stations when we think he should, we instantly assume that he is going to be late at the finish. But children are not railroad trains. They do not learn at an even rate. They learn in spurts, and the more interested they are in what they are learning, the faster these spurts are likely to be." John Holt

From Herbert Kohl's (1967) 36 Children

"Then I locked the record cards in the closet. The children would tell me who they were. Each child, each new school year, is potentially many things, only one of which the cumulative record card documents." Kohl
  • I love this quote in relation to the topic of formative assessment.

From Neil Postman's (1992) Technopoly

"the computer redefines humans as 'information processors' and nature itself as information to be processed." Postman
  • Not sure how this one is useful to us but somehow it seems to fit this topic of technology-enhanced formative assessment.

"People now commonly speak of 'programming' or 'deprogramming' themselves. They speak of their brains as a piece of 'hard wiring,' capable of 'retrieving data,' and it has become common to think about thinking as a mere matter of processing and decoding." Postman

"The idea that intelligence can be quantitatively measured along a single linear scale has caused untold harm to our society in general, and to education in particular." Postman

"in a culture that reveres statistics, we can never be sure what sort of nonsense will lodge in people's heads." Postman

From John Holt's (1964) How Children Fail

"Part of being a good student is learning to be aware of that state of one's own mind and the degree of one's own understanding." Holt
  • Metacognition

"A teacher who asks a question is tuned to the right answer, ready to hear it, eager to hear it, since it will tell him that his teaching is good and that he can go on to the next topic. He will assume that anything that sounds close to the right answer is meant to be the right answer. So, for a student who is not sure of the answer, a mumble may be his best bet. If he's not sure whether something is spelled with an a or an o, he writes a letter that could be either one of them." Holt  This is something to talk about. When I am using formative assessment my questions are not designed to get "a range of answer" but rather to explore a number of different perspectives that are out there.

"A teacher in a class is like a man in the woods at night with a powerful flashlight in his hand. Wherever he turns his light, the creatures on whom it shines are aware of it, and do not behave as they do in the dark. Thus the mere fact of his watching their behavior changes it into something very different. Shine where he will, he can never know very much of the night life of the woods." Holt
  • This analogy casts doubt on the effectiveness of any form of assessment. 

"If we look at children only to see whether they are doing what we want or don't want them to do, we are likely to miss all the things about them that are the most interesting and important." Holt AGain something to talk about.

"When, without any very great plan in mind, I began to allow more and more time during the school day for my students to talk to and do things with each other, I began to learn enough about them, their experiences and ideas and interests, so that I could see some ways to make the classroom a more useful place for them. They had to teach me before I could begin to teach them...Thus, when I learned, from hearing her talk to her friends, that one of my students loved horses, I was able to help her with her 'reading problem' by putting within her reach a copy of National Velvet. She loved it, as I thought she would, and her love for the story and the people in it gave her the desire and strength to overcome her 'reading problem'—which was mostly the fear that she really couldn't learn to read, and the shame she would feel if this proved to be so." Holt

"It is not the teacher's proper task to be constantly testing and checking the understanding of the learner. That's the learner's task, and only the learner can do it. The teacher's job is to answer questions when learners ask them, or to try to help learners understand better when they ask for that help." Holt
  • This would be a good quote to bring up to spark discussion about what kinds of formative assessment are useful and important.

"Isn't there something to be said for asking, whenever possible, questions that can be answered without words? Questions that can be answered by doing something, showing us something?" Holt
  • The four tech tool categories we have in our presentation all address formative assessment through the use of words in some way. I think it is important for us to hold space for forms of non-verbal formative assessment. Good point.

"Children who have been led up to answers by teachers' questions are later helpless unless they can remember the questions, or ask themselves similar questions, and this is exactly what they cannot do. The only answer that really sticks in a child's mind is the answer to a question that he asked or might ask of himself." Holt


From Herb Kohl's (2003) Stupidity and Tears:

"One question on the test showed a woman mopping the floor. The question was: She likes to: a) cop, b) hop, c) mop, and d) pop. Julia and the rest of the girls in the class refused to answer the question, informing me that she does not like to mop. They could read. But they rejected the premises of the questions. And they felt that truth was stronger than testing. They were six years old." Kohl
  • Again, another one addressing types of questions used to assess.