Have you ever started to teach a lesson get almost half-way through, and then realised that you've set the bar in the wrong place? Many of your students already know what you were planning to teach them. In this situation, most experienced teacher will be able to quickly whip something new up and move on. This is why I want to focus on assessment at the very beginning of a lesson. If we assess students on entry, we can really quickly get all the data we need to allow us to be flexible and creative in our teaching without losing effectiveness.
I have read an interesting article by E Pendergrass, (2013) on the importance of pre-assessment & particularly how teachers can access and respond to it. What really struck me was the idea that teachers could work out the starting point of a class from one initial task and more impressively, adapt the rest of the lesson based on that. This article suggested that a teacher could use the performance of students in the initial task to inform their selection of groups. I think that as brilliant as teachers are at being flexible, getting this data early in a lesson or at the start of a unit would impact on the way we deliver the rest of the entire lesson, from groupings to questioning and the setting of extension tasks.
I'd suggest using a blank card, or possibly some prompts where students can showcase their prior learning. Give them the title of the lesson, and just let them put pen to paper and show what they can do. Re-visit this at the end, possibly repeat the task with a different colour pen and the student and teacher will be able to see a clear learning journey.
Please leave comments below, I'd love to hear your thoughts...