Notes from Unlocking Formative assessment

These are my short notes. I have tried to put it in my own words, however there will be cross-overs. Please refer to the original text.

Chapter 1

  • Make learning intentions clear
  • Design activities that enforce these learning intentions – not busy work.
  • Rather than displaying the short-term plan for the week, display the learning intentions for the week.

Chapter 2: Sharing learning intentions

  • Separate learning intention and success criteria from the task instructions. Ensure students differentiate between what you want them to learn and to do. Begin with activity instructions rather than learning intention: what to learn and what to do
  • Clear learning intentions – the last piece of the puzzle.
    • How will we know? 
    • Invite to participate
    • Display the WALT and SC – makes a significant difference to simply telling the students. 
    • Write the learning intention, not the instruction 

It doesn’t matter if the activity does more than the learning intention requires. The learning intention is the ‘minimum’. 

Teachers have found learning intentions develops learning culture, with students demanding learning intention if it is forgotten.

Create positive language around children getting stuck – learning occurs when something is hard.


  • Feedback is most useful when focussed on the learning intention.
  • Oral feedback: loudest on learning intention, whisper minor changes.

Feedback on 4 levels p.66

  1. about self – you are a good student – unrelated to task
  2. At motivation – leads to increased effort
  3. Aimed at the process – processes required for success.
  4. About the task – how to

To close the gap… (p.67)

  1. Highlight 3 places where best aspects against the learning intention.
  2. Indicate with an asterisk where improvement to be made
  3. Extend an arrow to the nearest white space and write closing the gap prompt by suggesting small improvement.


  • Give chance to respond
  • Students vote on possible answers
  • All students write down answer – read a few
  • Dialogue should provoke reflection.

Raising children’s self-esteem

Strategies to maintain self-concept.

  1. self-handicapping (excuses)
  2. Learned helplessness
  3. Discounting – dismiss feedback as not valuable
  4. Adopt less challenging goals
  5. Social comparison (with others).

Chapter 9: using this book to make a difference

  1. half term-term: ensure learning intentions clearly visible
  2. half term: introduce and trial sharing learning intentions. Feedback and continue
  3. Half term: introduce and trial student self-evaluation. Feedback and continue.
  4. Half term to term – introduce and trial oral and written feedback against learning intentions.
  5. Term: feedback all the strategies so far, to see how more time has changed their impact and teacher’s expertise
  6. Term: introduce writing target cards or flaps. Feedback and continue
  7. Discuss self-esteem in the light of the formative assessment strategies and review current practice.

Formative Assessment in Action: summary notes

Information taken from “Formative assessment in action: weaving the elements together” by Shirley Clarke.

p.6 Authority for the knowledge cannot be left in the hands of the teachers alone. All have a contribution to make. Making sense of new knowledge comes by connecting these to their prior knowledge and their expectations construed from this.


Assessments themselves do not result in learning. It needs to be deliberate. Formative assessment is defined Continue reading