FIP Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day from a teacher at a recent FIP professional learning day:

"I used to think that I had to summatively evaluate after each chapter and formally teach each standard, even if the students had already learned it. But now I think I can use formative evaluations and possibly 'skip' the summative evaluation. If my students are already proficient, I can move on to the next standard to continue to challenge students."

Moving Past Being Uncomfortable: The Evidence Game

This blog post was written by Bob Cline. Bob teaches at Shanahan Middle School, in the Olentangy school district. Bob is also featured in the FIP Video Library.



I have been teaching for the past nine years, trying to maximize the learning of every student in my class. This is the vision of any good teacher as they start each year. I have attended numerous conferences and professional development sessions, and tried other approaches in engagement, rigor, and curriculum alignment; the list goes on. Regarding FIP, I have found that the Evidence game I use to collect and document evidence gives me and my students the biggest bang for our time and effort.  This activity blends many best practices into a process that drives my teaching and supports my students.

The Evidence Game holds students accountable for their learning using a clear and fair approach. However, holding students accountable requires a balance of high expectations and pushing them even when they are feeling uncomfortable.  I would argue it is not only students who often can feel uncomfortable, but also the teacher, as we attempt to determine when and how to support students, and how to create a sense of accountability for the learning. I want my students to know their role in the learning process, which is a role just as important and as active as mine.

Here is a description of how I hold students accountable and why I don’t run away in the moments that make my students and uncomfortable.

Learning targets/standards must be clearly visible for students.  Early in my teaching career, I thought students knew what the expectation was because it was modeled in class or discussed. However, I came to realize that students need a visible reminder of the learning expectations daily. I began the “Evidence Game” with new learning targets for a given unit in the form of questions. The expectations become clear and visible.  At the end of the class, I remind students that if they need help on these expectations they must approach me. If they walk out of my classroom, there is a common agreement between us they should be held accountable to that target.

As we move through a given unit, more targets are displayed. After being discussed in class, these targets move to the ongoing targets category (a section on my wall). After a few days, we physically move to the part in my room where all the targets are displayed. I often start by saying, “You have 5 minutes to review all the targets and ask a friend for help or clarification.”  I help a student or two, but I keep a close watch all the students as they engage with each other.  I point to the ongoing targets discussed in class. Students are asked not to raise their hand. I begin to call on them, one at a time. Participation is not optional in my class.  It is my responsibility as a teacher to determine what each student knows, not just the student who always raises his/her hand. My students know that I will call on anyone, unless they have approached me within the last day or two on a given target to indicate they still need more time and support. This allows the students a safety net and the opportunity to be accountable for, and active in, their learning.

You might ask, what happens when a student does not know the proper answer/response during this process.  Here’s how it works. I call on a student. They may stare at me and hesitate to answer, maybe feeling unsure or uncomfortable. However, I do not move on until that student can give me a response, whether it is accurate or inaccurate.  This gives me a next direction to take. If a student is close, I support and guide them through the question posted. However, if it is clear that the student does not know the question at all and has not approached me earlier, I let them know very clearly that it is unacceptable and they need to be more accountable for their learning.  Only then will I move on to another student until I get an accurate response about the given target. Next, I immediately return to the student who was unprepared, to see if they can now successfully answer the question.

Why do I do this? I believe too many teachers move past students when they don’t know something in a larger class setting or discussion. This may be because many teachers feel uncomfortable about how to support students, and choosing the right moment to do so. I, however, have told my students that the role I have as their teacher and the point of this activity is to support them in their learning. When a student gets something wrong, I return to that student immediately because I do not want to send the wrong message.  No student gets something wrong and leaves my classroom without any support or follow up; l want them to learn that waiting is not acceptable. I want to help students in what I call the “moments that present themselves,” even when they might feel uncomfortable.

The Evidence Game activity has been a game-changer in my classroom for the past six years.  For this to work, there must be clear, structured, visible expectations, and a relationship with students based on trust and shared accountability. I have found this approach holds students accountable; they know what they don’t know, and they seek out help way before any graded assessment takes place. I do this Evidence Game activity several times within a given unit, which allows for a short cycle review of content. It gives students a more cohesive understanding of the connection between standards/targets. I also collect additional evidence of learning with other individual data tracking of student progress. In the end, the Evidence Game has allowed me to be a better teacher as I continue to strive to maximize learning for every student. 

More Than an Acronym

This blog post was written by Kristy Draher. Kristy is a Grade 8 ELA and Reading Teacher at London Middle School. 

Teaching is a profession of acronyms. I learned this early on in my college career. I had stacks of flashcards full of acronyms and their respective definitions. I could tell you what an IEP is, what IDEA stands for, and what the common symptoms of ADHD or ODD are. Even as recently as four years ago, however, I couldn't tell you what FIP stood for. While FIP (formative instructional practices) may be a newer acronym in the world of education, the culture behind a FIP school isn't. I use FIP in the classroom easily and effectively and the FIP practices have become part of my students’ and my daily routine.

When the students walk into my 8th grade classroom they know that they have to work to their fullest potential. They know where to locate the learning targets – they hear me use them in conversation, and they are able to explain the goal of the lesson. My students are actively engaged in their own learning, and are comfortable in assessing themselves. Using a quick and informal self-assessment process allows me to get an idea of where every student is, and who might need some reinforcement before moving on. This encompasses four of the FIP practices: students are engaged, students take ownership of their own learning, learning targets are clear, and feedback is effective.

I am passionate about teaching and even more passionate about guiding my eighth-graders to become well-rounded critical thinkers. The use of FIP in my classroom and in my building has created a culture that is student-driven. We have embraced the FIP philosophy, and it can be seen throughout all grade levels and subject areas.

Learn more about FIP here.

Universal Design for Living and Learning

Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph. D.

Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph. D.

It feels unimaginable. It's a typical summer day and you're riding your bicycle along a nearby bike trail. Then, suddenly a 3 1/2 ton tree that once stood 80 feet tall, falls and crushes you, paralyzing you from the waist down. You return to your home in a wheelchair after six weeks only to realize you cannot get into your own house due to steps at every door. Then, once that obstacle is addressed, you discover that you can’t access the bathroom because the doorways are too narrow; your use of the kitchen is extremely limited because you can’t reach the cabinets or have access to the oven.

When this happened to Dr. Rosemarie Rossetti in 1998, she realized that her own home had intensified her disability. Moreover, since her business was in the basement, even her livelihood was being compromised.

But Rosemarie is an accomplished Central Ohio woman with a history of ingenuity and determination. Once she stumbled upon the concept of Universal Design, she set her sights on building a new home—her dream home—one that not only met her own needs, now that she was effectively 4-foot tall while seated in her wheelchair, but equally those of her husband, Mark Leder, who stands over 6- foot tall.

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

Building her new home began as a necessity and evolved into a mission. Now, 16 years later, Rosemarie’s dream house is nearly completed, and, through a community effort, is a model for best practice in universal design (UD). In fact, it is the highest rated UD house in North America!

What is universal design? Simply put, UD is designing from the inside out; constructing and crafting environments that serve the needs of all of its dwellers. It is less about retrofitting spaces for accessibility by adding features or modifying structures; it is more about well-designed spaces that require fewer individualized modifications. Everyone benefits.

Rosemarie and her husband collaborated with several builders and interior designers to meticulously create what is now a life, work, and education space. They recruited support along the way from a myriad of sponsors and volunteers, and will soon be opening their home to the public. Here, architects and designers can learn more about the features of this Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home (it is also a green home), and how the concepts can be integrated into their own design thinking.

What about your own design thinking? Do you think about instructional design and learning spaces in the same ways that Rosemarie thinks about home design? Universal Design for Learning (UDL) borrows the concepts that Ronald Mace put forward in 1988 concerning architecture, and applies it to teaching and learning. Universal Design for Learning is an orientation to student learning that focuses on all students and how we create adaptive environments that are good for all of them. UDL focuses on the ways we assure that learners can adequately receive information, express their understandings, and meaningfully engage with peers. UDL is entirely consonant with FIP. After all, formative instructional practices (FIP) are about how teachers create ways to increase student ownership by focusing on helping students to know where they are in their learning, where they are going, and how they can get there. FIP teachers constantly examine if their efforts result in students becoming clear, confident and self-reliant on their path to mastery.

The Reaching Every Student module series focuses on UDL principles. The three modules extend the foundational module learning by asking educators to carefully consider the components of FIP and to make sure that their decisions increase each student’s ownership and mastery of their learning. 

Specifically, the new Formative Instructional Practices: Reaching Students with Disabilities module deepens teachers’ understanding of how to best use FIP to meet the needs of students with a range of special needs by using FIP to maximize their achievement and growth.

This module is intended for classroom teachers that are interested in improving instruction for all of their students, including students with disabilities. It is also for intervention specialists who may be beginning their FIP journey. It is meant to be used as a companion to the Foundations of FIP and FIP in Action Modules.

Below is an example of what we mean by UDL and FIP thinking.  You will see that there is NO RETRO-FIT IN FIP! To find many more ideas to meet the needs of all your learners, enroll in this module. The module provides strategies and most importantly, ways of thinking about options intended to augment FIP effectiveness.

The story of Rosemarie Rosetti’s demonstration home is inspirational as well as educational. I encourage you to visit for more information, pictures and a virtual tour. Volunteers are needed to guide tours. So, if you have time, or if you know of students needing service credit, contact Rosemarie at

For more about Universal Design for Learning, you can also visit this Ohio resource:


FIP Quote of the Day

“Teaching my students to engage in peer feedback has worked; they have developed in terms of identifying areas of success and intervention for one another. Eric, one of my gifted students who is actually younger than his peers, has benefited from the social interactions. Though he tends to be a perfectionist, I have seen him become more accepting of errors. He is more interested now in figuring out how to improve. I used to spend a lot of time providing written and oral feedback to students. Teaching my students to use effective peer feedback saves me time, because my students take more ownership of their learning and provide each other with high-quality feedback.”

- Mr. Perez: Formative Instructional Practices: Reaching Gifted Students Module


As a part of the Reaching Every Student series, Formative Instructional Practices: Reaching Gifted Students deepens teachers' understanding of how to use formative instructional practices to meet the needs of gifted students and maximize their achievement and growth.This module is available for all Ohio educators here



An Intersection at the Corner of FIP and RTI: Gifted Learners


This article was first featured in the Fall 2014 edition of the Principal Navigator. It has been reprinted by permission from the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators.

Response to Invention (RtI) has much in common with Ohio’s Formative Instructional Practices (FIP) that thousands of educators across our state have begun to adopt. The success of RTI is dependent upon FIP. RtI and FIP both address the need to create classroom environments where students and teachers respond to accurate information about student learning. FIP focuses on the informal and formal ways teachers collect and document evidence of student learning and the use that information to adjust instruction and move learning forward. Like RTI, FIP is a problem-based model designed to help teachers and their students become clear about where they are in their learning, where they need to go, and how to close the gap between present and future.

Although Response to Intervention was originally conceived as an approach for the early identification of students with disabilities, its purpose is not merely to identify. Rather, its intent is to increase the responsiveness of educators to meet the needs of all struggling students. This preemptive framework implements structures for educators to collaborate, make data-based decisions and establish classroom strategies specifically designed to increase student success. If classroom–based strategies prove insufficient, educators have evidence to suggest the need for additional supports or interventions.

FIP has been supported by the Ohio Department of Education because it provides teachers with the foundational understanding, classroom examples and a vision for embedding the very skills that RTI requires into practice. Both RtI and FIP apply to all learners—including those who are gifted.

The four FIP components, outlined in Ohio’s free online learning modules, most closely reinforce Tier I of RtI, which starts with a rigorous curriculum and evidence-based high-quality instruction. The four core components--creating clear learning targets, collecting and documenting evidence of student learning, analyzing evidence and providing effective feedback, and cultivating student ownership, work together to help teachers build a relentless orientation towards instruction and assessment designed to help each student meet or exceed standards-based learning targets.

When effective instruction is the focus of RTI, the relationship between FIP and RTI become even clearer. Jay McTighe (2008), whose work has been used to build RTI systems, addressed several important considerations for effective instruction that are explicitly tied to FIP. In the table below you can see how FIP complements McTighe’s effective instructional design steps.

For RtI to be successful, teacher teams need to work together to create options for students that help them to grow and be successful. Universal Design of Learning (UDL) principles are useful to help teachers design instruction for all learners by considering options that differentiate instruction. A new series of three FIP modules has recently been released, Reaching Every Learner, These modules are designed to provide teachers with examples that deepen their use formative instructional practices with diverse learners. Each module is intended to expand on the foundational principles of FIP and to help teachers consider options consistent with UDL that address some specific needs of English language learners, gifted learners, and students with disabilities. Each module gives the reader examples of how to create options for students, provides classroom based scenarios and given them opportunities for problem solving.

Teachers may find that the Formative Instructional Practices: Reaching Gifted Students module especially useful as they design and deliver instruction for their gifted students. This module is intended mainly for classroom teachers interested in improving instruction for gifted students, as well as for gifted intervention specialists who may be beginning their journey with FIP. It can be used as a companion to the Foundations of Formative Instructional Practices and the FIP in Action modules.

Below are some critical questions to consider about current practices in your classrooms and some FIP tips you can use to advance gifted students' progress. For more strategies and tips, be sure to check out the Reaching Gifted Students module as well as other FIP in Action modules that depict many strong example of differentiated practice in various grades and content areas. 

As Danielson (2007) noted, effective teachers actively and systematically elicit information about students' understanding in order to monitor their progress and make instructional decisions. FIP shows teachers how to build their skills and knowledge to do this well. When implementing FIP with fidelity, they will see that they are responding to student needs in the right way, at the right time—all of the time.

Danielson, C. (2007). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

McTighe, J. (2008, October). Connecting content and kids: Integrating differentiation and understanding by design. Workshop presented at the Wisconsin Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Conference,Appleton, WI.