5 Strategies for Formative Assessment

Remind is great for keeping your students and their parents informed about what is going on in your classroom, but its magic doesn’t stop there. Remind can be used in other phases of your classroom, such as formative assessment. As teachers, we use formative assessment all the time–its quick, informal nature allows us to be “plugged in” to what our students know without being bogged down with constantly grading student work. Keeping a pulse on our students’ learning helps to drive our instruction and planning.  Check out these 5 ways you can use formative assessment in your classroom:

1. Remind

What quicker way to assess our students outside of the classroom than through Remind? We can ask students to blog, submit a post on a discussion board, or work on a take-home assessment, but with Remind’s “Stamps” feature, we can send out a formative assessment, get quicker results, and engage students with the uniqueness of the tool. Easily send out a Remind message asking students a question, and instruct them to “stamp” it in the Remind app. But, don’t stop with just asking your students! Get students’ parents involved in the fun. Send out a Remind message with a question for parents to ask their children. If their child answers the question correctly, parents can “stamp” the message with a star! This brings another layer to formative assessment, as well as a little more accountability to parents.

2. Questioning

Questioning is perhaps an obvious one, but specific questioning can be a highly effective method of formative assessment. The type of questions you ask is the key. Yes/No questions, one word answer questions, etc. are quick to do, but might not delve deep enough to truly get an idea of student comprehension. In my Mesopotamia unit, I had the kids “dig” for artifacts as the unit intro. (The “artifacts” were buried in shredded paper in boxes). As the students were digging, they pulled out each artifact and discussed what it was, what it might represent, and why it was important to the people of Mesopotamia. Throughout the class period, as I was walking around the room visiting with students, the questioning was non-stop, “What is that?”–“What do you think that symbolizes?”–“What was that used for?”–“What does that mean?” The questions were aimed to get students thinking and responding. I was assessing their ability to think critically and make connections.

3. Sequencing

In each unit of my ancient civilization curriculum, we read a chapter from a book called “Ancient Quest”, which is a book I wrote to give my students more interesting and engaging supplemental material to the social studies textbook. This helps them learn and understand key concepts in a hands-on interactive way. After reading through the chapter together and working through a lit zone and/or questions, I challenge each group to put the events on the board in the correct sequence. I usually post between 10 and 15 events from the story, making this a quick 5 minute assessment that clearly tells me how well the students are understanding the material.

4. Stopwatch Badge

My classroom is a video game. Students work to level up and earn badges. One badge I offer is called the “Stopwatch Badge” and it is a one minute formative assessment. I have the “Flashcards of the Realm” and my students can try to “beat” the flashcards. If they can successfully make their way through the flashcards in one minute or less, they earn the stopwatch badge. A few things happen during this formative assessment strategy — being that the flashcards hit the main points of the unit, I can tell which students know what and what areas present a struggle — in only a minute! Second, students love earning badges and it motivates them to practice and demonstrate their knowledge of the material.  The sense of accomplishment, plus the excitement of blasting the cannon to signify they’ve earned  badge, makes this formative assessment strategy fun and meaningful.

5. Creating

What better way to check for understanding than for students to create something that demonstrates their knowledge! This formative assessment allows students to create with their hands and their minds.  This creation could be something as quick as a visual to represent something students read about, or a “tweet” to summarize a key concept discussed in class. Have your students “create” a 15 second share of a topic. Create a plan before moving forward with a project to show understanding of a bigger concept.

These are only five examples of many for formative assessment. I think the key with formative assessments is to make them engaging, quick, and relevant. Formative assessment, in my view, is like a stethoscope-it gives the teachers a chance to keep their finger on the pulse of the class without going through a major “procedure” each time.  Students should be given opportunities to show what they know more than just a huge project or test at the end of a unit. If the assessment is given correctly, students will be having fun, creating, discovering and learning without even knowing they are being assessed.