Dotting the "I": FIP For Families

The following post was written by Melanie Wightman, Powerful Practices Specialist at Battelle for Kids.  

I was arrested at halftime of The Ohio State University Buckeyes football game a few weeks ago.

No, not by stadium police. I was home watching the Bucks and was captivated by the incredible joint performance of the Ohio State School for the Blind (OSSB) Marching Band, synchronizing their Braille Script Ohio with the traditional and always stellar music and choreography of their collegiate counterparts.

As an educator (as well as parent and grandparent), I was overcome with admiration and joy witnessing such accomplishment from all the musicians. Too rarely can you experience true “Universal Design for Learning.” And upon reflection, I could see in this momentous occasion formative instructional practices (FIP) in action.

Last week, my colleague Bobby Moore blogged about coaching basketball, physical education, and FIP. I have just pointed to a remarkable marching band as my example. What do these sports-related analogies have in common? 

Formative instructional practices are successful only when teachers become effective coaches. When coaches and students are clear about expectations, students know what they need to attend to. With this clarity, coaches instruct specifically to those learning targets and give feedback that is directly related to those targets. The feedback becomes effective when students know how to correct/improve their skills or continue down the path to success.

In the OSSB band’s performance, I detected a foundation of clear learning targets, student-friendly learning progressions, and perfect match of target to performance assessment. I could imagine how evidence of learning was collected then analyzed and how effective feedback for both intervention and success preceded this outcome. Student ownership was at its pinnacle when, in perfect harmony, three musicians (two are needed for the Braille letter) dotted the “I.”

Wouldn’t this analogy be a great way to introduce FIP to your parents?  Use it as complement to the materials included in the FIP Your School Principal’s Toolkit (login required for access). The toolkit is designed to help principals and other instructional leaders engage parents to better understand FIP. The materials there, coupled with this “Script Ohio” story, might be just the ticket to inspire parents and regenerate staff enthusiasm for FIP as a school-wide effort.

How are you communicating with parents about formative instructional practices?