One of the biggest challenges of being a teacher is finding a way to meet the diverse needs of all the students in your class. Formative assessments are the key to overcoming this challenge. Let’s look at four quick and easy ways to formatively assess your students.
4 Quick and Easy Ways to Formatively Assess Your Students
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Before we dive into the formative assessment tools, it’s important to understand what formative assessment is and why it’s crucial to your students’ academic success.
Formative assessment is like your educational GPS. It’s the tool that tells you where you are on your teaching journey and helps you figure out how to reach your destination—student success!
Why Formative Assessment Matters
1. Individualized Learning
Every student in your class is unique and has different learning strengths and weaknesses. Formative assessment helps you tap into that uniqueness. It gives you real-time insights into what your students get and what they find tricky. Armed with this info, you can customize your teaching approach to suit each kiddo’s needs.
2. Instant Feedback
When you use formative assessments, you can give your students instant feedback. This prevents them from continuing to practice the wrong way to solve a problem. They immediately know what they are doing well and what they need to continue practicing.
3. Informed Teaching Decisions
Formative assessments allow you to see exactly what your students are able to do at the moment. If you see that a lot of students are getting questions wrong, you can try teaching it in a different way. If all the students are answering the questions correctly, you can challenge them or move on to new content.
4. Small Group Formation
Whole group formative assessments give you the information you need to form small groups for enrichment or remediation. If you use guided math, your formative assessments can help you figure out which students to put in your above-level, on-level, and below-level groups. If you use reading strategy groups, your formative assessments will help you pull students who need to practice the same reading skills and strategies.
5. Goal Setting
With formative assessment, students aren’t just passive learners. They become active participants in their own education. They can set goals, track their progress, and take charge of their learning journey.
6. Add Variety to Your Assessments
Formative assessment isn’t just about boring old quizzes. You can mix it up with group discussions, peer evaluations, hands-on projects, and even students assessing themselves. It keeps things fresh and exciting.
7. Knowledge Retention
Here’s the best part: formative assessment helps students remember what they’ve learned for the long haul. When they receive feedback and reflect on their work, it sticks in their brains like glue.
Formative Assessment Tools
Now, you might be thinking, “That all sounds great, but how do I make it happen?” Here are four quick and easy ways to formatively assess your students.
I love using post-its for formative assessment! At the end of class, give each student a post-it note. Give them one or two questions to answer to show what they learned from your lesson. Have them write their name and the answers to the questions on the post-it. As they leave the classroom or move on to the next lesson, they can stick the post-it on the board or in another spot where you can quickly and easily see who understood the concept.
My new favorite post-its are the Innox Sticky Notes. I always hated just throwing the post-its away after checking the students’ answers. The Innox Sticky Notes solve this problem! These sticky notes are two-sided, and the white side is dry erase. The students can write their names on the colored side, which won’t erase. Then, they can answer the questions on the dry erase side and reuse it every day.
Added Bonus: The Innox Sticky Notes stick to any surface, so you can store them on the sides of your students’ desks. That way they are always easily accessible.
Whiteboards are another amazing tool for formative assessment. Ask your students questions, and have them write their answers on the whiteboards. Then, they can hold up their answers for you to check. Make a note of which students get the answers correct and which students need more practice.
I am absolutely in love with the KleenSlate 2-Sided Whiteboards! Most of the whiteboards in my classroom chipped easily and didn’t erase well. These are durable, and dry erase markers easily wipe off. Plus, I love that they have a handle to make it easy for your students to hold up and display their answers.
Added Bonus: The second side of these whiteboards is a vinyl sleeve that you can slide a page in for your students to complete on the dry erase surface. There are even templates available for common math, reading, and social studies graphic organizers!
3. Google Forms
Technology can also be a great way to formatively assess your students. Google Forms make it really easy to give your students a few quick questions to answer at the end of class. (Plus, it can even be self-checking!)
Just create a Google Form and type the questions you want your students to answer. Send it to them or assign it in Google Classroom. At the end of you lesson, have them complete the formative assessment, and you’ll immediately know who mastered the content of your lesson and who needs to practice it more.
4. Classroom Observations
Formative assessments don’t always have to be typed or written. Your observations are extremely valuable formative assessments. If you see that a student looks confused as you’re teaching, you can make immediate adjustments and reteach it in a new way.
Formative assessment is like the secret sauce that turns a good teacher into a great one. It helps you meet the unique needs of your students, fosters a love for learning, and creates a classroom where curiosity thrives.
What Do You Think?
What are your favorite types of formative assessment?
Let us know in the comments.
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