Formative assessment: the KWL table

If you have ever tried to design a lesson for the concorso docenti, you will definitely know that one of the key aspects to include is assessment.

For the concorso AB24 and AB25, we know that one of the key points from the syllabus is knowledge of different types of assessment, including self assessment.

In this article, we will talk about:

  • Different types of assessment
  • Formative assessment
  • An example of formative assessment: the KWL table
  • A video explanation of a KWL table

At the end of the article, you will also find a downloadable KWL table in Word format.

🇮🇹 👉 If you’d like to read this article in Italian, you will find it here.

There are various different types of assessment in language. One of the main distinctions is between:

  • Diagnostic assessment, which gauges learners’ entry level. For example, at the beginning of the first year of upper secondary school, the teacher does a grammar test to assess the entry level of her students, who come from different lower secondary schools. Based on the results, she decides how to structure her lessons for the first school term.
  • Summative assessment is typically conducted after a period of study (e.g. at the end of a unit, a school term or a school year). With summative assessment, the teacher collects data about how much the student has learned against specific benchmarks and awards grades. A well-known example of this is the INVALSI test. INVALSI tests measure students’ competences against specific benchmark, such as the B2 CEFR level in English, i.e. the exit level for upper secondary school.
  • Formative assessment, with which the teacher collects data about what has been learned, including any gaps or difficulties the students have, and uses these data to give learners feedback and make decisions on future instruction. For example, at the end of a lesson on human rights, the teacher does an exit ticket to assess what has been learned: she asks the students to ask a question about something from the lesson that they did not understand.

The KWL table is a good example of formative assessment and also a knowledge organiser.

KWL stands for:

  • Know, i.e. what the student knows before the lesson
  • Want to learn, i.e. what the student wants to learn during the lesson
  • Learned, i.e. wha the student has learned during the lesson

At the start of the lesson, the teacher introduces the topic of the class and the student fills out the first two columns. This helps the student recall their existing knowledge, have expectations on the lesson and focus their attention.

By filling out the third column at the end of the lesson, the student gets a chance to summarise what they learned and the teacher can see what they have learned. This is an example of formative assessment: with this activity, the teacher does not give any formal grades, but has a way of understanding what has been learned and what needs to be reviewed in the following lessons.

To collect even more data on what needs to be reviewed, the teacher can add a fourth S column: still want to learn, in which the students write what they still want to learn about the topic.

KnowWant to LearnLearned

To see an example of a KWL table on the topic of Saint Patrick’s Day, watch our video:

If you like this activity, download it in Word format for your students:

Would you like to find out more about formative and summative assessment, and how to use them to pass the concorso docenti? Watch our workshop on assessment in English and join the thousands of English teachers who passed their concorso ordinario and straordinario with LanguagEd!

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