7 smart and quick ways to conduct a formative assessment (2023)

Formative assessment—finding out what students know while they are still learning it—can be difficult. Designing the right assessment can mean the stakes are high (for teachers, not students) because we use it to decide what comes next. Are we ready to move on? Do our students need another route to concepts? Or more likely, which students are ready to move on and which need a different path?

When it comes to figuring out what our students really know, we need to consider more than one type of information. A single piece of information (no matter how well designed the questionnaire, presentation, or problem behind it) is not enough information to help us plan the next step in our instruction.

Combine this with the fact that different learning tasks are best measured in different ways, and we can see why we need a range of formative assessment tools that we can implement quickly, smoothly and without risk, all without creating an environment that is unmanageable. Work load. That's why it's important to keep it simple: Formative assessments should generally only be reviewed, not graded, as the goal is to get a basic read on the progress of individuals or the class as a whole.

7 approaches to formative assessment

1. Entry and exit slips:These marginal minutes at the beginning and end of class can provide good opportunities to find out what children remember. Begin the class with a quick question about the previous day's work as students settle in; You can ask different questions.written on graph paperor projected on the board, for example.

exit ticketsIt can take many forms beyond old-school pencil and clipboard. Whether you evaluate at the bottom of Bloom's taxonomy or at the top, you can use tools such asrowingosurvey everywhere, or measure progress towards achieving or maintaining essential content or standards with tools such asGoogle Classroom Question Tool,google formswhenflubaroo, yedulastic, all of which make it very easy to see what students know.

A quick way to see the big picture if you use paper exit tickets is toarrange the papers into three piles: The students got the point; in a way they understood it; and they did not understand. The size of the stacks is your clue as to what to do next.

Regardless of the tool, questioning is the key to keeping students engaged in the new or nearly completed formative assessment process. Ask the students towrite for a minuteessentially what they learned. You can try tips like:

  • What are three things you've learned, two things that still interest you, and one that you don't understand?
  • How would you have done things differently today if you had the choice?
  • What I found interesting about this job was…
  • Right now I feel…
  • Today was difficult, because...

Or skip the words altogether and have students draw orcircular emojisto represent your assessment of your understanding.

2. Low-risk questionnaires and surveys:If you want to know if your students really know as much as you think, surveys and quizzes are made with itsocraticoquestionnaireor games and tools in the class asQuizalisere,Kahoot, FlipQuiz,be born,Plickersand Flippity can help you get a better idea of ​​how much they really understand. (Scoring quizzes but assigning low values ​​to them is a great way to ensure that students actually try: quizzes matter, but an individual low score cannot cancel a student's grade.) Children in many classes are always connected to these tools so that formative assessments can be made very quickly. Teachers can see each child's response and determine, both individually and collectively, how students are doing.

Since you can design the questions yourself, you decide the level of complexity. Ask questions at the end of Bloom's Taxonomy and you will get information about what facts, vocabulary terms or processes children remember. Ask more difficult questions ("What advice do you think Katniss Everdeen would give Scout Finch if the two of them spoke at the end of Chapter 3?") and you'll get more sophisticated information.

3. Measuring sticks:So-called alternative formative assessments are intended to be as quick and easy as checking the oil in your car, which is why they are sometimes referred to asoilpinde. These could be things like asking students to:

  • write a letter explaining an important idea to a friend
  • draw a sketch to visually represent new knowledge, or
  • Do a think, match and share exercise with a partner.

Your own observations of students working in class can also provide valuable data, but it can be difficult to keep track of. One approach is to take quick notes on a tablet or smartphone or use a copy of your list. TOfocused form of observationit's more formal and can help you narrow your focus to taking notes while watching students work.

4. Interviewvurderinger:If you want to dig a little deeper into students' understanding of content, try discussion-based assessment methods.Informal conversations with students.in the classroom can help them feel comfortable even when you have an idea of ​​what they know and you can find outfive minute interview assessmentsIt works very well. Five minutes per student would take a long time, but it is not necessary to talk to every student about every project or lesson.

You can also transfer some of this work to students through a peer-to-peer feedback process calledLabel comments(Tell your partner something they did well, ask a thought-provoking question, offer a positive suggestion.) When you have students share feedback they have from a partner, you gain insight into both students' learning.

For more introverted students, or for more private evaluations, useflipgrid,explains everything, oRockerhave students record their responses to prompts and demonstrate what they can do.

5. Methods that incorporate art:consider usingvisual artophotography or videographyas an assessment tool. Whether students are drawing, making a collage or sculpting, the assessment can help them.synthesize your learning. Or think beyond the visual and have children act out their understanding of the content. They can create a dance to model cell mitosis or act out stories like Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" to explore subtext.

6. Misunderstandings and mistakes:Sometimes it is helpful to see if students understand why something is wrong or why a concept is difficult. Ask students to explain "muddiest point“in the lesson: the place where things became confusing or particularly difficult, or where they still lack clarity. or make onecontrol of misunderstandings: Present students with a common misconception and ask them to use prior knowledge to correct the error, or ask them to decide whether a statement contains an error and then discuss their answers.

7. Self-evaluation:Don't forget to consult the experts: children. often you canGive your rubric to your studentsand make them discover their strengths and weaknesses.

You can usesticky notesto get a quick idea of ​​what areas your children think they need to work on. Ask them to choose their own pain point from three or four areas that they think the class as a whole needs to work on and write these areas in separate columns on a board. Have your students answer a slip and then place the slip in the correct column; you will be able to see the results in an instant.

Various self-assessments allow the teacher to quickly see what each child thinks. For example, you can use colors.stackable cupswhich allows the children to indicate that they are ready (green cup), that they are solving some confusion (yellow), or that they are really confused and need help (red).


Similar strategies involve the use ofparticipant cardfor debates (each student has three cards: "I agree", "I disagree" and "I don't know how to answer") andapproval response(Instead of raising their hand, students raise their fist to their stomach and give a thumbs up when they are ready to contribute.) Instead, students can usesix hand gesturesto silently indicate that they agree, disagree, have something to add and more. All of these strategies give teachers a discreet way to see what students are thinking.

Whichever tools you choose, take the time to do your own thinking to ensure that you are only evaluating content and not gettinglost in the evaluation fog. If a tool is too complicated, not reliable or accessible, or takes an inordinate amount of time, it's okay to put it aside and try something else.


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