Formative Assessments

Part of a teacher’s responsibilities are assessing student learning. This can occur before instruction, during instruction, and as the finale to instruction. Formative assessment focuses on the DURING instruction part. Formative assessment allows you to determine a student’s understanding of content and adjust as needed. If their understanding is on point, you may continue with current plans or even give higher level critical thinking activities. If some students are struggling, this is an opportunity to determine their weak areas and address it NOW rather than having to reteach. For me, formative assessments focus on choice and learning style. Summative assessments (the finale!) tend to be similar to standardized testing. Some students will always experience test anxiety and it may not always be a correct reflection of their ability or knowledge. For this reason, formative assessments should vary.  It should take into account a student’s strengths and interest. Examples of formative assessments are:

  • Use of a tic-tac-toe board- This is where the student picks the assessment based upon a predetermined number of choices that all relate to the content. I have found that the easiest thing to do here to assess is to create a rubric that will work for any of the choices present. If the student chooses a drawing, you are not here to criticize their artwork, but rather determine if they convey the content requested. That doesn’t mean you don’t allow points for creativeness and organization. Share the rubric with students beforehand so they understand your expectations.
  • Four Corners game- Remember those students with test anxiety? This is a great way to reach them! It also helps your students that need movement. Simple instructions: Label each of your classroom’s corners with A,B,C, and D. Review content with students and ask them to move to the correct corner when they have determined the answer. You do have to be careful with this assessment since some of your students may just follow others. In this case, I have created the group strategy. As a group, you must agree upon an answer and move as a group. This helps prevent stragglers and followers.
  • Graphic organizers- As a visual learner, these are my favorite!! Our brains naturally categorize. It is just what we do. Graphic organizers help us to do this in a concrete way.
  • Discussion- I adore informal classroom discussions. They allow me to assess student’s knowledge indirectly. Students are able to bring tidbits and real-life examples to content that I’ve never thought of in such a way. I have truly learned from them.

The types of formative assessments are tremendous. One only needs to search the Internet to find endless possibilities. What types of formative assessments do you use in your classroom? Do you feel that some are better to use in certain classrooms than others?


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