50 Everyday formative assessment strategies (2023)

50 Everyday formative assessment strategies (1)

As often as a chef has to check the taste of a dish, teachers have to do itcheck understandingthrough the use of deliberate formative assessment strategies.

These can be formative-formative or summative assessments, multiple choice, short answer, essay, matching and related iconic "quiz" forms. But they can also be informal: conversations, gallery walks, sketches and much more.

We recently splitInconvenient truths about evaluation, and one of the takeaways from that Terry Heick post could be that instead of focusing on assessment design, we could focus on an assessment climate: a classroom where snapshots of understanding are taken frequently and naturally, without performance stress for the student, or burden of huge and unmanageable data output for teachers.

So what about evaluation as a matter of tone and purpose? If an assessment is neither traditional nor threatening (or even less traditional and less threatening), how can that affect what it reveals? Does the tone of an evaluation matter?

Is informal assessment a "lesser" form?

The main advantage of informal evaluation

More than anything else, an informal, non-threatening assessment can interrupt the process of checking for understanding. The less formal the form, the less cautious or anxious the student may become. Stress and worry can quickly reduce a student's ability to think, leading to misleading results: a low "grade" that suggests a student understands far less than they actually do.

Here are 50 formative assessment strategies, categorized by learning style, that you may find useful when collecting data on all students, from the small and refined academics to students for whom the classroom can be an uncomfortable place.

Kinesthetic strategies


Response cards allow students to demonstrate their understanding nonverbally. Teachers can design or print pre-made response cards, laminate them and cut them into a key ring that stays on each student's desk or in a designated location. Include True/False, A-B-C-D, Yes/No, or color-coded cards that can represent the answers displayed on a SMARTBoard. Alternatively, a set of miniature dry-erase boards is a less time-consuming way for teachers to allow students to demonstrate what they know.

hand signals

Hand signals can be used to give a quick and comprehensive picture of what your students know. Students can rate their level of understanding from 1 to 5 fingers or use open or closed fists to indicate "Yes" or "No". This is another great way for students to participate non-verbally.

Give 1, get 1

Not only is this an effective way of getting students to demonstrate their understanding, it also gets them moving, includes an element of competition and has educational value. As? Within a certain amount of time, students move around the room to connect with as many partners as they can. With each pair, one student shares part of their understanding and the other student writes that item in their own collection. Then they are exchanged. As more members gather, each student's list should grow with additional information.

4 corners

Students of all ages love this kinesthetic demonstration of understanding, where each corner of the room corresponds to a different item on a Likert scale (ie, "Strongly Agree," "Agree," "Strongly Agree," Disagree," and "Strongly Disagree" ") or multiple choice (A, B, C or D). The teacher can ask a suggestion or a question, and then the students move to the corner that corresponds to the chosen answer. The teacher can then have one or more students explain their reasoning for retreating to their area of ​​the room.


This game will have your students begging you to show them your understanding! Turn your classroom into a basketball court by moving desks to the side and lining up students to toss crumpled paper balls into a bin. Place strips of duct tape near, in the middle, and far away from the basket to make scoring more difficult. About the points... students only get a chance to shoot the paper ball if they answer the questions correctly, and teachers can allow students to answer different "levels" of questions. The students can then decide where to shoot from: the further away from the bin, the more points they get if they sink the paper into it.

Questions about beach balls

Only in the first semester and you and your students are missing the summer? If you can't take the students to the beach, take the students to the beach! Inflate a large beach ball and use a dry-erase marker to write questions on it (or, if the beach ball is different colors, have each color correspond to a different question displayed on a SMARTBoard). Have students pass the ball to each other and answer one of the two questions that their hands touch when they catch the ball.


For a non-theatre group, a simulation might be a good idea to give them a chance to check what they know. Simulations challenge students to recreate an event, concept, phenomenon or process. For example, students can simulate a chemical reaction by acting as molecules, demonstrate how a bill is passed through a simulated vote in the Senate and House of Representatives, or represent various probability equations.


On a gallery tour, students (usually) demonstrate their understanding of a concept on a poster or through a created artifact. Think of your classroom as a museum: each artifact can have a blank sheet of paper underneath where others can view the work, ask questions, comment, and discover connections. It is almost as if the students are positioned as critics; This activity is also a great way to model how to provide effective and targeted peer feedback.

Bloom's Cubes

Let's play a game! All you need are dice. And how practical: each number (1-6) can correspond to a different level of Bloom's taxonomy (remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create). Each student has the option to roll the dice and answer a predetermined question OR create their own question using one of thePowerverber fra Blooms taksonomi.

Pinwheel diskussion

In a pinwheel discussion, the teacher divides the class into 4 groups and moves 4 desks in a circle, facing each other. Behind each of the center desks are two desks (or more, depending on the number of students). Each group is thus formed by a representative in the center and two or more members on the outside of the wheel. Each student takes on the role of challenger, moderator and facilitator, while the teacher asks questions worthy of discussion. Students can create their own higher-order questions, design simulations, or provide explanations.

I have the question, who has the answer?

It's like a matching game, but for the whole class! The teacher can write questions and answers on separate index cards, mix them up and distribute them in the class. Then, within a set time, the students must find the corresponding answer to their question. To make this task even more challenging, teachers can add additional conditions, such as not being able to use certain keywords, only being able to speak using questions, or having a limited number of words to communicate with potential matches.

warm chair

Okay, so we know most desks don't come equipped with climate control, but you can create a sense of excitement and urgency with this fun formative assessment strategy! Write questions on index cards and place them at the bottom of each desk. Have students play musical chairs to figure out their question, or use different colored tiles to answer a different style of question. For example, in the first round of Hot Seat the teacher might ask someone with a blue card to answer, while in the second round they might call someone with a start on the card to answer. .

Trip Trap Clogs

Students can feel more empowered to demonstrate what they know when they are given choices about how to do it: For each of the nine spaces on the board, the teacher can include a different way to demonstrate their understanding. The student can choose three different ways to demonstrate his understanding (horizontal, vertical or diagonal). In this way, the teacher can designate certain options as all visual, all oral, all kinesthetic or representative of each style.

Discussion-based strategies

concentric circles

This formative assessment strategy also contains a kinesthetic element. The teacher arranges all the students' desks in two circles with the same number of desks: an inner circle and an outer circle. The teacher asks a group to move left or right and then sit opposite a new partner. In that pair, each member takes turns sharing their answer for a full minute and then actively listens to their partner's answer for a full minute. With each rotation, students can build on their shared contributions by synthesizing previously received responses.

philosophical chairs

In this formative assessment strategy, students listen to a statement from the teacher and move to another side of the room indicating whether they agree or disagree with the prompt. The teacher then allows the students to collaborate in their groups to create a joint statement that expresses their position. One (or more) students can share, and each side can have another chance to collaborate to respond to statements from different groups. The goal of the activity is to clarify understanding, and students have the opportunity to switch sides if their opinion changes during the discussion.

socratic seminar

The Socratic Seminar is a favorite among students who prefer to share their knowledge through conversation rather than a multiple-choice test or timed essay. Teachers (or students) create questions related to a concept, then engage in a student-led discussion to ask questions, carefully agree or disagree, use textual evidence to support their claims, engage individuals or the whole group in discussion, or seek clarification.

As concentric circles, there are two equal groups sitting on an inner and outer circle. Internal learners speak while external learners act as support coaches or observers. At "half-time", the circles change so that everyone has the opportunity to talk and coach/listen. Finally, students can write a brief summary of the discussion and share how their learning has been clarified or extended.

fish bowl

The fishbowl has many elements in common with the Socratic seminar and the concentric circles, except that in this case there are only 5-7 desks in the inner circle, and most of the desks are located on the outside. A teacher provides a topic or question for discussion and students take turns moving into the inner circle to participate in the conversation. Ideally, the discussion should continue without interruption as students push each other to get in and out of the inner circle. Outside students record ideas or observations which they can then bring back to the inner circle to strengthen the discussion.

ongoing conversations

Ongoing conversations are an excellent strategy for exposing students to multiple perspectives and can take place over the course of a single study unit or an entire semester. Students are given a single sheet of paper with a 2-column graph. In the left column there is enough space for each student in the class (the teacher may or may not include the names). On the right side, which is significantly wider than the left column, there is an empty box large enough for a person to write 1-3 sentences.

Each day the teacher may ask a question or give a prompt, and students have a set amount of time to discuss the question or prompt with a new partner. Summarize your partners' answers in the right column next to the partner's name. The challenge is for each student to talk to a new person in the class before talking to one person twice. This is a great activity for classes where students tend to gravitate towards the same classmates.

conversion stations

In this iteration of chat stations, the teacher creates questions or discussion topics at designated locations in the classroom. In small groups, students travel to each station and discuss each topic. They can continue to travel together OR move separately to new stations where they will have the opportunity to discuss a new message with new partners. Like the "give 1, get 1" strategy and "continuous conversations," this is a great strategy for exposing students to different perspectives.

spare me the last word

Here we present another formative assessment strategy where students benefit from listening and speaking. Students share their reactions to a suggestion or question in triads as Student A, Student B, and Student C. While Student A reads a question, quote, or suggestion, Student B and C participate in a discussion about its meaning. After a set period, student A explains his reasoning for choosing the quote or asking the question (thus getting the "last word"). The process is repeated and students B and C have the "last word" in a new round.

TQE method

TQE stands for Thoughts, Questions and Three Kings. Similar to Socratic discussions (see here for oneexample of a Socratic discussion, this formative assessment strategy is also student-driven based on the thoughts, questions, and revelations they provide in response to a text, problem, or scenario. The class can choose the best TQEs and use them to fuel their own discussion.

Key phrase

Have you ever played this electronic game that gives you a word and you have to explain it to a small group without using commonly associated words? In the classroom context, the teacher could use this game for students to demonstrate their understanding of new vocabulary concepts. For example, a student might select a flashcard with the vocabulary word "talkative" and see a list below the term that contains words that they cannot use to describe the term to members of their group (ie, talkative, chatty, very, social, outgoing ).

analogi hints

Analogies are a quick and effective way to get students to use higher-order thinking skills to demonstrate what they know. In short, the teacher can challenge students to make an analogy to a concept they currently understand. This strategy can work across all grade levels and content areas.

See alsoHow to teach with analogies

Visual strategies and techniques

Picture book

Student artists will be clamoring for more options like Pictionary! In this formative assessment strategy, students create a drawing or other visual representation of a process, concept, or phenomenon. To move on, they can send their drawing to the right in a circle, where the recipient writes what they think the previous student drew. They fold the paper so that the next recipient of the paper can only see the written part. The third person then makes a new drawing for the second person's written interpretation (without looking at the original drawing!). The paper continues to move in one direction, alternating drawings and written explanations, until it returns to its creator (who may laugh at it). how far the rendering has gone or if you feel confident that future renderings will match your original drawing).

pages of a page

This formative assessment strategy challenges students to produce a single page paper that illustrates their understanding of a given concept. There are guidelines for what a one-page brochure should contain, such as key vocabulary, higher-order questions, images, quotes, main ideas or central themes and symbols. Students can also use these booklets as artifacts on a later gallery tour.

concept mapping

You've seen concepts before: graphic organizers, flowcharts, and Venn diagrams are examples of students using diagrams to represent relationships between different concepts (ie, cause and effect, compare and contrast, sequence, problem, and solution).

From the abstract to the concrete

Similar to the analogy strategy, students are challenged to represent an abstract concept (such as photosynthesis, expropriation or irony) using something concrete. Alternatively, the teacher can also reverse the concept and challenge the students to turn a concrete fact, event or process into an abstract concept.

affinity mapping

Like concept maps, affinity maps are a way of organizing different ideas (but this time collaboratively). Students often write more concrete concepts on individual Post-It notes and work together to classify them into groups that are more abstract. Students can travel to groups of other groups and critique their reasoning or make changes.

concept performance

We've previously written about the formative assessment strategy for concept acquisition, where "students introduce and define new ideas inductively through categorization...students see properties, examples and non-examples, form theories, and test them." theories with given data until we are able to name the concept. Take a look at ours concept performance postto see an example of this strategy in action.

hexagon tank

In hexagonal thinking, teachers write specific concepts on hexagon-shaped cards and then place them side by side to reveal relationships and connections between concepts. Once the hexagons are arranged, students use connecting arrows to show the intersections of the central ideas. The teacher can ask them to explain their thoughts in writing or orally.

written strategies


This formative assessment strategy is self-explanatory. A teacher presents a suggestion or question, the student thinks about it, writes about it, pairs up with a partner and shares their answers. A simple strategy with potentially enlightening results for students of all levels.

GIST Resumé

Do your students understand the essence of what they are learning? A GIST abstract is not just any abstract: it means “generating interactions between schemas and texts” (Cunningham, 1982; Herrell, 2000). Students are challenged to write a summary using a set number of words (usually 15 or 20) using key vocabulary related to a complex text or concept.

chain of understanding

Don't let your exit tickets go to waste: Ask students to write their answers to the daily exit tickets on a piece of construction paper, then glue and staple the slips of paper into a chain that can serve as a tangible representation of student learning at the end. of a unit. You can even have students read the links in the chain and reflect on how their thinking has developed. It also doesn't hurt that a colorful formative assessment chain can brighten up a dull classroom environment!

Costa's question

Like Bloom, Costa organized different types of questions into a hierarchy of levels (from least to most complex). Level 1 questions prompt students to respond with literal information (such as an answer they can point to on a page). Level 2 questions have students process information by combining literal and inferential knowledge. Level 3 questions challenge students to apply information in new ways. As a formative assessment strategy, teachers can challenge students to answer one from each level, or better yet, come up with their own questions to answer themselves and/or share with their fellow students.

Bloom's Phrase Roots/Power Verbs

At TeachThought, we are big fans of using sentence roots and questions as a starting point for students to demonstrate their learning. The teacher can issue a specific power verb or phrasal root to which the students give their unique response.

power minut

In this timed formative assessment strategy, students have 60 seconds to write down everything they know about a given concept. There's no need to worry about writing full sentences here: Students can write sentences, vocabulary words, themes, main ideas, supporting details, text connections, examples, and related concepts.


In this formative assessment strategy, a teacher provides a prompt or question and students type (or write) a one-word response. There are many great websites that simplify this process and create visual word clouds based on student responses. Commonly shared answers are displayed in a larger size than less common answers, which can give the teacher a good idea of ​​how well students understand a concept.

3-2-1 strategy

Why do the simplest formative assessment strategies often yield the most revealing answers? In the 3-2-1 strategy, the teacher challenges the students to prepare 3 ___, 2 ___ and 1 ___. What is written in the empty fields? Read some examples in our post onUsing the 3-2-1 learning strategy for critical thinking.


A haiku is simply a more poetic way of summarizing a concept in the student's own words. Haikus are Japanese poems consisting of three lines. The first line contains five syllables, the second line contains seven syllables, and the third line contains five syllables.

Top 10

Comparing, contrasting and ordering are higher order thinking skills. Ask students to demonstrate their understanding by listing top ten details related to a main idea, top ten vocabulary words associated with a phenomenon, or top ten events in a historical or scientific process. Challenge your students further by asking them to explain the rationale for their classifications.

ABC summaries

A-B-C, easy as 1-2-3! Working in collaborative groups, students take turns generating an alphabetical list of words, phrases, or sentences that relate to a larger concept or process.

Circle – square – triangle

Each form corresponds to a different formative assessment challenge. Students draw a circle and write down anything that is still confusing, unclear, or "spoiling" in their minds. Students then draw a square and write down whatever they agree with (or whatever "squares" with their thinking). Finally, students draw a triangle and write three important details about what they learned.

Digital strategies and techniques


How long would it take to collect individual responses to a question, categorize them, and create a representation of that curation that could then be shared with students? The paddle can perform such a task in less than a minute! Students can write their response (anonymously or associated with their names) to a question or message, which is then displayed on a Padlet (virtual bulletin board). The teacher can update the display in real time and seek student feedback to categorize answers or show relationships.


EdPuzzle allows educators to insert questions at any time during an imported video. Students can work at their own pace and teachers can add commentary or voiceovers to the video or feedback responses.


There is a reason for Kahoot! includes an exclamation point in the name - students LOVE playing this digital formative assessment game! Teachers can choose from a library of thousands of formative assessments or create their own. Students participate via laptop or mobile device and select an answer to a given question. Students get more points for answering quickly (and correctly), and a leaderboard shows the top three after each question.


Quizlet is like Kahoot! but more adapted to small groups. As a formative assessment strategy, teachers can divide students into small groups and engage them in a competition where they must work together to answer the answers. With each correct collective answer, the team's animal icon advances in a race against the other teams. But be careful! A wrong answer by a group member can send the group back to the start of the race!

There is certainly an opportunity for social-emotional learning here: Competitive students can learn to better support group members who are struggling with a question by encouraging them rather than complaining or pushing them.

google forms

Create quick formative assessments and export student responses to a spreadsheet – This is a great tool for doing subject analysis to find out which concepts students struggle with and which concepts they master. Check out our post onHow to Create Self-Assessment Assessments Using Google Forms.

Tik Tok

Appropriate for high school students (who probably already have the popular app downloaded on their mobile devices), teachers can task students with creating a TikTok video of 60 seconds or less to demonstrate their understanding. Students can create simulations, sketches, analogies or illustrations in this versatile and user-friendly application.


FlipGrid (see also Ideas for using Flipgrid) is a great training strategy in and out of the classroom. Teachers create discussion forums where students respond in the form of a video. They can view their peers' responses and add video comments, clarifications or questions to their peers' responses.

survey everywhere

Seek student understanding by creating a digital survey: Poll Everywhere gathers student responses quickly and helps teachers see which concepts students (as a class) understand and which concepts require further elaboration or struggle.


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