How Formative Assessment Supports Professional Development

Throughout this semester I have reflected on how formative assessment and understanding affects learners in a professional development setting.

I created a unit that introduces the SAMR model  (Click to view a quick explanation on the SAMR model) to fellow educators using an online professional development model through Haiku Learning Course Management System.  The unit intertwines teaching and formative assessment to support pedagogical changes in classrooms.  My first two lessons focus on learning and processing while my last two lessons use formative assessment with an emphasis on feedback to support SAMR model integration into curriculum and professional growth. Check out my unit design by clicking this link.



[Rich Colosi Media]. (2014, June 20). The SAMR Model Explained by Students [Video File]. Retrieved from


Professional Growth:Inside & Out

This year I have taken a new position in our school district as an instructional technology as well as data coach.  The position serves three districts and our educational service district.  I assist with integrating technology into classrooms & curriculum while also conducting professional development on technology use and application in classrooms.  Another component of my new position is collecting, analyzing and supporting teachers in pedagogical adjustments based on student data throughout the year.  

My experience at Michigan State University in the Masters of Arts in Educational Technology has supported my new position.  As I reflect on my experience in CEP 813, it has escalated my knowledge and growth about both formative and summative assessment through their impact on teaching and learning.

The most impactful assignment that supported my growth was the Formative Assessment Design because it challenged me to explore using it with adult learners.  

The biggest professional change I face is now working primarily with adults as opposed to students.  Best practices or theory behind working with adults was foreign territory for me, especially “extended learning experience” to teach adults.  Previously my view of adult learning that it was best practice to deliver information and new ideas and they would be able to immediately take back and apply immediately. 

The Formative Assessment design challenged me to design an assessment I would use with learners using digital tools.  I created an assessment that would support teacher growth in the classroom.

My assignment was assessed by my instructors three times over a period of several months.  The first two assignment submissions were designed to give feedback and provoke new ideas to enhance my assignment.  I felt this was significantly impactful to my professional growth because I had a peer to collaborate with as well as expert in the field critiquing my work. By having feedback to work from, my assignment was better explained to further engage the learners.  As a result,  I now understand that the adult mind needs time to process, reflect, and transfer knowledge into practice. 

Several lessons I can take from this experience are:

  • The use of feedback on anything will enhance not only the product but your understanding of the product on a holistic level.
  • When giving explanation to anyone the more details you provide, the better they will understand of the objectives behind the assessment.

Here is a link to my Formative Assessment Design


Digital Portfolios & Professional Growth

Creating a digital portfolio that is publicly available and consistently updated was a new experience for me.  I had created a website before but never one that is living with me alongside my growth and development as a professional.  Developing a digital portfolio afforded me the opportunity to digitize my professional experiences, reflect on my educational practice and showcase my learning in my academic studies.  

Using Twitter to publicize my digital portfolio reinforced it as an assessment for learning.   According to Troy Hicks , et al. (2007), “Besides being a different type of composing process putting work online as compared to in a three-ring binder positions teachers in front of many different audiences, including students, parents, colleagues, administrators, and the general public (p. 451).  This supports authentic assessment because it challenges the portfolio creator to choose to explore how to layout information within their assessment.  The process asks them to construct a product to present to an audience.  With each post, I had to choose what to showcase to my instructors and viewers to demonstrate my learning based on the week’s objectives.  When I began this journey, I paid close attention to my delivery and choice of words, knowing that I was speaking to a global audience.  The process felt more authentic because it was permanent and live on the world wide web.

My digital portfolio represents an assessment as learning over a long period of time. I use it as a tool for introspection and personal and professional growth. It allows me to reflect on my role in education.  Quinn, Pultorak, Young, and McCarthy (2010) define reflection  as “a purposeful activity fostered over time that requires awareness of self and self-perception, is developmental and occurs in stages, and is based in experience that connects to other meaningful experience (p. 28).  My digital portfolio exhibits this idea of reflection by serving as a bridge that connects my past experiences and my new learning experiences within my studies.  It affords me the ability to review previous thoughts and ideas in the past then modify or improve on the ideas.

My digital portfolio acts as a showcase of my professional experiences.  I agree with Hicks et. al, “ Representing myself digitally has been one of the greatest challenges during this development process.  How do I show my students, parents, and colleagues who I am as a teacher?  How do I tell my story online, (p. 455)?  I think this idea coincides with the the idea of assessment of learning because you are showcasing your best representation of your work online.  It allows administration and others who are interested to view artifacts of my work to demonstrate what I can do to for a district.   It is a living record of all my experiences and educational growth and most importantly my understanding of student learning.

The creation of a digital portfolio has been an invaluable practice throughout my time and Michigan State University.  It has allowed me to develop professional learning to share with the world.


Hicks, Troy, et al. “Rethinking the Purposes and Processes for Designing Digital Portfolios.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 50.6 (2007): 450-8. ProQuest. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.

Quinn, L., Pultorak, E., Young, M., & McCarthy, J. (2010). Purposes and practices of reflectivity in teacher development. In E.G. Pultorak (Ed.), The purposes, practices, and professionalism of teacher reflectivity: Insights for twenty-first-century teachers and students (pp. 25–43). Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Utilizing Portfolios in Educator Development

Digital Portfolios have been utilized in teacher programs for many years. Universities often use portfolios as part of their student teaching experience.   Some programs require student teachers to create a digital portfolio. Others require a digital portfolio to include a hard copy to bring to prospective interviews.  Once a job is attained, the digital portfolio often becomes forgotten and unused.  

As an instructional technology and data coach, I would like to transform digital portfolios from a stagnant product into a foundation for self reflection, growth, and pedagogy development.  According to  Niguidula (2005), “Digital portfolios can serve many purposes: showcasing students’ best products; proving that students have mastered expectations required for graduation; and communicating with parents and other audiences about what students are learning (p. 45).   Portfolios are a dynamic way to convey learning in a classroom as well as to showcase personal growth.  

When I began investigating the research and theories behind the class Electronic Assessment, I was amazed at the multiple types of formative assessment practices education can utilize. The differences between an assessment as learning, an assessment for learning, and finally an assessment of learning are significant for both the instructor as well as the learner.  My job as an instructional technology and data coach, I envision focusing the creation and implementation of a digital portfolio with teachers as an assessment as learning and for learning.

A digital portfolio offers a place to showcase a classrooms best practices.  Imagine a digital space where parents, educators, and community members can view classroom curriculum , objective and learning.  This not only showcases learning in your classroom, it allows for metacognition and self paced learning.  Teachers could share their portfolio with other teachers in their district or in social media to gain some feedback and ideas to strengthen their portfolio.  Sharing their portfolio would not only help gain strength for their work but also publish it to the world.

 Developing a digital portfolio will support personal reflection and growth, especially over the course of a school year or several school years.  Schools could help support the revitalizing of teacher digital portfolios by using them as an assessment for learning between teacher and administrator.  According to  (Wall , Higgins, Miller, Packard, 2006), discuss how asking people how they  learn and what tools help then learn inform the development process of new innovations and also gives perspective of teaching and learning (p. 271).  Metacognition is an important factor in growth and development. Traditionally, a significant amount of time is spent thinking about students learning. This leaves a short about of time to think about a teachers own learning.  Administrators can participate in meaningful discussions with teachers about what they have included in their portfolio.  These conversations could lead to a change in school wide practice, thoughtful discussions on learning and new ideas, in this field.

My position could play a significant role in presenting the value in digital portfolios as a formative assessment both for learning and an as learning tool to districts.  I could work with with administration to create a timeline, develop a vision for teacher portfolios(based on research and best practice) and provide technology assistance in choosing appropriate portfolio development software for their needs.   I also could schedule times with teachers to sit down and help sketch out a rough draft of what they envision their portfolio to look like.

To follow up and further support the district, I would work with administration on question development. These questions would provoke metacognition using formative assessment for learning as a baseline behind the conversations.  If administrators could develop thoughtful thinking behind teacher design of their portfolio this could result in critical thinking and reflection.  I would like to collaborate with teachers and provide any technical assistance or feedback to support the development of their portfolio.  This could range from video integration & software help, or consulting about what they would like in their portfolio.

According to Hicks et. al (2007), “If the portfolio construction process is conceived as a way to think critically about one’s learning, then that creates a very different experience for a teacher” (p. 451).  Utilizing research and design of a portfolio along with helping to support the understanding of digital portfolios will develop a teacher’s thought process, change in practice, provide another way to develop professional growth. The end result is an increase in self awareness & growth for the teacher baed on these practices.

Overall, digital portfolios can increase communication to parents, a place for teachers to reflect on their practice and make their practice a learning process rather than an dated artifact.

Hicks, T., Russo, A., & Autrey, T. (2007). Rethinking the purposes and processes for designing digital portfolios. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(6), 450-458.

Niguidula, D. (2005). Documenting learning with digital portfolios. Educational Leadership, 63(3), 44-47. Retrieved from

 Wall K.,  Higgins S.,Miller J.  &  Packard N. (2006) Developing digital portfolios: investigating how digital portfolios can facilitate pupil talk about learning, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 15:3, 261-273, DOI: 10.1080/14759390600923535

Professional Development Using Haiku Learning

Throughout the last month, I have investigated the Haiku Learning Content Management System for use in conducting professional development for educators.   My journey began by comparing several different Content Management Systems, then developing an assessment within Haiku Learning and finally using feedback refining and showcasing my assessment.  To read about my journey, please check out my previous blog posts.

In this video you will see several key points and reflections regarding my reasoning behind the assessment and implementation of resources and questions to help participants refine their learning.


Formative Assessment 101

Using Haiku as both a learning and assessment platform has proved to be enjoyable, easy and dynamic for both the student and the teacher.  My assessment focuses on the first unit in a formative assessment module with the intended audience being new teachers in the field.  This is a summative assessment that is intended  to use  after the introduction and exploration of the first module in a Formative Assessment online class.

The development of the assessment within Haiku learning was an extremely simple process.  The assessment creator, I believe provides multiple ways to enhance my participants learning. When I first initiate the assessment it gives me a series of options.  The first is the my choice of being it formative or a summative assessment. Once I make my decision I can weight the questions, choose how many times students can retake the assessment, if sections of the assessment are weighted and how many points is the assessment worth.

All of these options provide ways to enhance student learning because it allows the educator to personalize the assessment to meet the needs of your particular group of students.

There are 5 types of questions embedded within the assessment creator.  Each question has the capability of having attaching a file or link, altering the font and embedding other resources. This supports a multi modal experience.

Some of the limitations that I noticed while creating the assessment  were lack of having more than one right answer it multiple choice answers. I think this feature would support learning by reinforcing the idea that there is more than just one right answer in formative practice.

Check out my screencast of my assessment below.

A Course Management System That Fits Your Needs

Over the last two weeks I had the opportunity to investigate several course management systems that are free for teachers to use.  Course Management systems help deliver lessons, assessments, communication and scores to students online, anytime and from anywhere. For my analysis I chose to analyze Haiku, Google Classroom and Schoology.  

I wanted to analyze the different classroom management systems from two different lenses.  The first from a teacher to student view and secondly from an instructional technology coach point of view.  After spending some time within each Course management system I found the features of Haiku to be easiest to use from a teacher and instructional coach perspective.  It offers multiple ways to check on student  engagement with the system.  For example the instructor can see how many minutes and days a student has been logged on.

The use of formative assessment is prevalent within the Haiku.  The instructor has the capability of using discussion forums, surveys, and classroom wikis to engage participants.  Haiku also has a learning portfolio component in place. Students/participants can display their projects and reflections This is beneficial as an instructional technology coach to use formative assessment tools with participants because it provides dynamic ways to get feedback about the professional development or online class.  

I also like that Haiku offers the ability to create rubrics and attach them to assignments right within their system.  Not only does this help the participants with learning objectives but keeps the scoring and assignment intentions transparent.   Another thing that helps with participant transparency is including a gradebook that once the score is entered it updates for the student as well.

Lastly two important components a course management system must have for me as an instructional technology coach, is a mobile learning app and easy integration with Google Apps for Education.  All of the districts that I work with are fully integrated with Google Apps for Education.  This means that I spend a fair amount of time working with Google Apps and training teachers how to use these apps with students in their classroom.  

Haiku does have a mobile app that you can access from Windows 8 tablets and the Apple Ipad.  It displays the activities in your class, to do list and participants can turn in their assignment from these mobile apps.  In regards to Google Apps integration, your district has to be registered under Haiku to make this feature available.  This would mean your district is committing to use Haiku minimally with 200 users and must pay an annual fee.

Overall I think Haiku offers multiple ways to communicate, engage and make learning transparent with students. I do wish there were more of a mobile app experience and free integration with Google Apps For Education.  The components within Haiku are dynamic and easily adaptable to multiple classes and curriculum.

Check out my course management system comparison chart here.

Minecraft: Practical Application in the Classroom

Over the last couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to test out and play with MinecraftEDU in CEP 813.  Although I had been playing Minecraft for over a year, I had never played it on a computer using a keyboard or a mouse.  Also I have never played outside of creative mode.  My lack of experience in both these areas caused some difficulty while learning to play MinecraftEDU.  Check out my video below of my first initial experience with MinecraftEDU.

Our final task for this module was to create an area that would assess our students.  I work as an instructional technology and data coach for three districts and our local ESD, so I wanted to create an hands on, task based area that would challenge teachers’ minecraft skills and generate ways to use MinecraftEDU inside classrooms.  Here is a video of my MinecraftEDU Playground for teachers.

Using Formative Assessment within Professional Development

In her article, The Role of Assessment in a Learning Culture, Lori Shepard (2000), states “In order for assessment to play a more useful role in helping students learn it should be moved into the middle of the teaching and learning process instead of being postponed as only the end-point of instruction, (pg. 10).  This idea can also be integrated into professional development  for teachers.

Too often a full day of Professional Development consists of 6 hours of instruction with a thirty minute lunch break.  One one side of the coin the expert brought in is discussing new information that teachers can use in their classroom.  The other side of the coin is while informational, the teachers attending the professional development often experience cognitive overload, forgotten pieces of  information and a lack of hands on experience with the information.

My infographic below describes several ways that speakers can utilize digital tools as formative assessment pieces to check for understanding within the group they are speaking too. By integrating polls, online collaboration tools and interactive video pieces, not only are the teachers more engaged but the speaker can collect data that is reflective of the participant understanding of the material presented.   Here is my infographic.

PD and Formative Assessment (1)

*For our class this week we had the opportunity to discuss our peer assessment with another classmate.  I wanted to give  a big shout out to Jennifer Keyte for reviewing my infographic.


Shepard, L. (2000). The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educational Researcher, 29(7), 4-14.

Supporting Teacher Growth in Conjunction with the SAMR Model

As technology is becoming a mainstay in educational practice, society is witnessing a transformation in curriculum delivery and testing.  Online state tests, 24 hour access to grades and online learning management systems that students can access anywhere are just a few examples of 21st century education.  Educators are using technology dynamically in the classroom.

The SAMR model was created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura as a way to assess how teachers  integrate technology into classrooms.  It consists of 4 levels of integration; substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition.

I would like to create an assessment to use with teachers that allows for reflection, self-assessment and growth of their use in using technology in conjunction with the SAMR Model. Below is a link to my initial planning of the assessment.

SAMR Formative Assessment: V. 1.0

Introduction to the SAMR Model. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2015.