Formative assessment means providing students with opportunities to show you what they are learning while you are teaching it. These assessments inform your instruction and help you make those little tweaks to your lessons that meet the needs of your students.
If it sounds tricky that’s because it is. But that’s what we as teachers shine at, being able to shift our instruction midway through a lesson or unit based on the needs of our students. That's why asking your teachers for a year’s worth of lesson plans at the beginning of the year is absolutely ridiculous ... but that’s the topic for another blog post …
Formative assessments don’t go in the gradebook. These assessments are for us teachers, to guide our instruction. But even though they aren’t graded we do need our students to be authentic and show us what they have learned or else we aren’t working with valid information.
So how do we get good, authentic, informative data from assessments that students know aren’t going to be graded?
With fun and engaging assessments that students WANT to do! We know that it's especially important that these assessments are easy to do and require little to no prep.
Below you will find a growing list of fun formative assessment ideas that you can use with any lesson. These ideas are meant to be used in a grab-bag sort of way so that you nor the students know what they are going to get.
Here are some ideas, and then two clever ways to pick formative assessments:
Easy, no-tech formative assessment ideas you can use tomorrow
Below you will find 12 fun yet simple, formative assessment ideas that you can use with any lesson. Have another idea to share? Please share it in the comments. Also check out our post Draw, choose, write or say: Fantastic formative assessments for more ideas that utilize technology in the classroom.
Create a graffiti will with a large sheet of butcher paper with pencils/markers or on the whiteboard with whiteboard markers. Give each student a place to create a piece of art with words and/or pictures that represents the big idea of the concept you are studying.
Create a multiple choice question for the concept we just learned about. You need to have the question along with three incorrect answers and one correct answer. Teachers: Using the questions the students wrote, create a class Kahoot to play the next day.
On a post-it note jot down 3 things you learned, 2 things you found interesting and 1 question you still have about the concept we just learned about. Teachers: Have students add their name and stick the post-its up somewhere in the room. You can watch a video about this strategy here.
Create a 30-60 second sketch, using only pencil, illustrating the concept we just learned about. No erasing, just sketch.
Choose 5-8 key words from the last and create a word web. Pick two words that connect and on the line linking the words record why and how these words connect to one another. Teachers: You can watch a video about this strategy here.
Using play-doh or aluminum foil create a model that represents the big idea for the concept we just studied. Using a post it note or index card create a title and short sentence to describe your art.
On a blank piece of paper write down everything you know about the concept we just talked about.
Choose an important word from our last lesson. Create a clue for the word to be used in a crossword puzzle. Teachers: Use Create Your Own Criss Cross Puzzle | Discovery Education Puzzlemaker to create your crossword puzzle for the class to use tomorrow.
Go to the part of the room that represents where you are at in terms of understanding or degrees of agreement or disagreement. Talk about it with others in their quadrant. You can move if you need to. Teachers see a video on how to do this activity here. -Contributed by Kris Campea
Record, Rotate, Reveal
On your individual whiteboards record your answer or share your understanding about the topic we just learned about. When you are ready, rotate your whiteboard facing it down. When everyone is ready reveal your response by holding it up.
Use your whiteboard marker to show what you know about the lesson on the surface of your desk. Teachers: You can use this as a gallery walk prompt and have students rotate around the room viewing each others’ responses.
A clever way to choose formative assessments
Many times, we choose which formative assessment we want to use carefully based on the situation. We'll look at the students, the work, the content to be learned, and what data we want to gather as we choose.
However, sometimes it's fun and spontaneous to leave it to chance! If you're up for an adventure, check out these two options ...
The formative assessment jar
Have a jar of easy formative assessment ready to choose from whenever you want!
Use the Flippity randomizer tool to create your own spinnable wheel just like this one.
- Make a copy of this document and edit as you need then download as a PDF and print it.
- Cut each of the different assessment strips apart.
- Choose the ones you want to use and put them in a jar.
- During or after a lesson pull a formative assessment strip out of the jar and have the students complete the activity.
Wheel of assessment!
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