Formative Instructional Practices: Beyond the Basics


By: Virginia Ressa

ThinkstockPhotos-486325400.jpgWhat seems like ages ago, the Ohio Department of Education secured a Race to the Top Grant that allowed us to develop new tools and resources in collaboration with districts across the Ohio. Thus began my adventure into the world of formative instructional practices (FIP) and the challenge to lead the development of online professional learning resources with our partner, Battelle for Kids. The federal grant funds allowed us to create 57 online learning resources, including modules and guides, and a video library to support the improved use of formative instructional practices in all classrooms. The grant included a team of FIP specialists to work regionally with participating districts. We managed to reach half of Ohio’s districts and more than 40,000 educators!

Formative instructional practices are the formal and informal ways that teachers and students gather and respond to evidence of student learning. Notice that this definition includes students as an active part of gathering and responding to assessment information. FIP includes four core practices that research has shown to be among the most effective for improving student achievement. The four practices include the following:

  1. Using clear learning targets;
  2. Collecting and documenting evidence of student learning;
  3. Providing effective feedback;
  4. Preparing students to take ownership of their learning.

The FIP professional learning resources purposely focus on just these four core practices. This focus allows educators to improve their practice without the overwhelming feeling of having to change everything. During Race to the Top, the Department received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the FIP resources from administrators, teachers and even pre-service teacher education programs.

Then, the inevitable happened, the grant ended. Our team of FIP specialists went their own ways, our contract with Battelle for Kids ended and I took on other work. A couple of years later, I am very glad to report that FIP has survived beyond the Race to the Top grant and my relocation to the Department’s Office for Exceptional Children. With the help of Allie Sberna from the Department’s Office of Educator Effectiveness, I am glad to announce the next generation of FIP professional learning, FIP 2.0, back by popular demand!

We have received many inquiries about what happened to the FIP modules. You can now find all of the FIP resources on the Learning Management System for Ohio Education (LMS). Educators can access the LMS through their SAFE accounts. Once they log in, they will see a link within their list of available applications. Within the LMS are resources from across the Department, including everything from early learning to career-technical education.

Allie and I encourage Ohio educators to explore the additional learning and resources that go beyond the introductory level. Many schools began by promoting the use of the FIP Foundations modules — a series of five modules designed to introduce teachers to the basics of formative instructional practices and provide a big picture of how they can improve teacher practice and school achievement. We encourage you to go beyond the basics and enroll in one of the courses with more in-depth content.

These six additional courses go beyond the basics, focusing on specific practices and content areas:

  • Leading & Coaching FIP;
  • Clear Learning Targets (broken down by subject area);
  • Reaching Every Student;
  • Designing Sound Assessment;
  • Standards-Based Assessment;
  • FIP in Action.

The FIP courses can be used for independent study or as part of a blended learning experience that includes face-to-face meetings with colleagues. Facilitation guides are available within the courses and can be used to guide discussions about evidence-based practices, reflection on current teaching practices and goal setting for implementing new practices. FIP courses also can be integrated into Resident Educator work, growth and improvement plans and individual professional development plans (IPDP).

Wondering what happened to the FIP videos? They’ve moved to YouTube and can be accessed here. All the videos include Ohio educators and students during real classroom interactions. Along with each video, you will find information about the class and teacher, discussion questions and connections to the standards. What can you learn from their practice? How would you coach them to keep improving?

Allie and I are working to update all the FIP resources to reflect current language. For instance, Ohio’s Learning Standards are no longer the “new” learning standards. All the FIP resources will get a refresh over the next few months, but we didn’t want to wait for that to be complete to make them available to you.

How are you using formative instructional practices? Share your work via Twitter using #MyOhioClassroom and #ohFIP.

For more information about FIP: Beyond the Basics, you can contact Allie and me using the information below.

Virginia Ressa
Office for Exceptional Children
(614) 728-6920

Allie Sberna
Office of Educator Effectiveness
(614) 369-4071

Virginia Ressa is an education program specialist at the Ohio Department of Education, where she focuses on helping schools and educators meet the needs of diverse learners through professional learning. You can learn more about Virginia by clicking here.

Michelle Hiser
I do not have access to the learning management system.
3/26/2019 11:51:08 AM

Julie Byrne
Hi Virginia,I attended your presentation at OCALICON in November and enjoyed the information. I am now trying to start the process of completing these courses. I think you mentioned you could take these courses for college credit. Is that possible and what is the process for that? With Gratitude - Julie
1/9/2019 3:28:08 PM

Virginia Ressa
All of the FIP resources are available free of charge to Ohio educators via the Learning Management System (LMS) within the Department's SAFE system.

There are seven FIP courses which each consist of multiple modules. For professional development during team meetings you could use the resources a couple of ways. Our ideal suggestion is to have a teacher based team select a topic - either at the course or module level - and work through the online modules section by section on their own, coming together as a learning community to discuss the content of each section. There are facilitator guides in most of the courses to help with this format. You'll also see links to the FIP Video Library and other resources.

Please feel free to contact me so we can talk more about how you can use these FREE Ohio resources.

-Virginia Ressa
3/29/2018 2:06:02 PM

Mel Viers
I am wondering how I can set up a PD with my staff members using theses materials. I would love to talk to someone to find out how other schools have used the program at monthly staff meetings!
3/25/2018 8:24:03 PM

Mary Peters
What great news! My students at OSU learn and use FIP. The video, modules and resources have been very helpful to them as they progress towards mastering these highly effective skills.
12/13/2017 11:43:32 AM

Ron Rogers
Virginia this is very informative and needed information. Formative Assessment is so important for all our students. Thanks so much for the links and supporting FIP 2.0.
12/11/2017 8:39:51 AM

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