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Are Staff and Students Ready for Formative Work?

In the Formative Period, students must attend, acquire, organize, and create meaning for what they are learning. This daily activity of building long-term memory is critical for making students confident
and competent performers later when they are assessed. If we want to grow student potential, we have to develop their proficiency in The Formative Period doing the different types of learning work. This means that we must attend to three different elements of the formative process:

  • Competencies: The students must become proficient in using the different types of attending, acquiring, organizing, and creating meaningful work they’re going to be required to use in
    the classroom. They need to learn, for example, how to be active, engaged listeners, and have strategies for reading to learn. They must know how to take notes from listening or reading and prioritize their learnings. They will be expected to understand and use graphical organizers. Additionally, they will have to have strategies for thinking about and thinking with content. If we require skills from students without first preparing them to use the skills, we have prepared them for failure.
  • Thoughtful Learning: A second element relates to the expectation that students become thoughtful learners and responders as opposed to impulsive learners and responders. The meta
    processes of critical reading/listening, writing/speaking, and thinking must be developed so the students can have multiple opportunities to think about and with content and present their
    thinking as a part of meaningful learning development.
  • 5 Legged Model: The third element relates to the attitude, perception, thinking, and experience pieces of the 5 Legged Model. It’s essential to the Formative Period that students have work experiences that build the attitudes, perceptions, and thinking required for them to be confident and competent learners.

In most cases, the development of these elements is left to maturation, random academic experience, and life experience. Until about 11th grade, the maturation level doesn’t support the levels of thinking we expect of students on assessments and, because many students lack the life experience that develops these characteristics, teachers must include developmental experiences as a part of the formation of the learner. For teachers, this involves providing work that develops the characteristics we want students to own.

– excerpt from Turning Around Turnaround Schools, Volume 2 – Embracing the Rhythm of the Learner Year

The free tools provided on this site are pulled, in part, from our recent book Turning Around Turnaround Schools, Volume 2 – Embracing the Rhythm of the Learner Year. If you have questions about how to use any of these tools, please feel free to contact us, or check out the book, available on

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