It seems like our students are bombarded by tests these days. The highly publicized summative assessments evaluate student learning at the conclusion of a defined instructional period. These assessments are assigned a score and generally are recorded as scores or grades and can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of an educational program.
Formative assessments are far more frequently utilized in a classroom and help teachers and students monitor student understanding. Students can see how their knowledge base or skills have grown and teachers can learn the effectiveness of their teaching strategies and practices and plan for re-teaching as needed. Formative assessments are some of the strongest tools in a teacher’s toolbox.
via Testing Autos
Edutopia.org refers to formative assessments as dipsticks, equating them to checking the oil in one’s automobile and quotes Robert E. Stakes who says, “When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative; when the guests taste the soup, that’s summative.”
Why not integrate a bit of technology in your formative assessment this week? Here are some simple ideas to try:
1. Use Padlet and ask students to self-evaluate. Post a few questions and ask students to respond by adding a post to a wall. Questions might include:
- What do you think your strengths and weaknesses were in this assignment?
- What would you do differently if you were starting the assignment now?
- How does this assignment showcase what you know and indicate what you still want/need to learn?
- What are the three most valuable things you learned as a result of this assignment?
- How much time and effort did you put into completing this assignment?
2. Make use of Google Documents by asking students to write a sixty-second-paper. Ask students to write a paper which explains the three most important things they learned and where they still have confusion. Then, use their response! Choose a well-written paper and share it with other students. Choose a paper which outlines common confusion, share it with the class, and ask the students to help clear up any confusion (and offer your own re-teaching as well).
3. Use Socrative.com to gather student generated content questions. Ask students to submit a potential exam question. Then use the listing of questions as a review of the material. Use the spreadsheet report to select questions and actually include them on a quiz or exam.
4. Blog on! Ask students to create a blog post which features six words that describe the most important points of the lesson. Then, ask them to write a brief explanation or justification for why each word was chosen. Later, you could encourage other students to offer comments and carry on a discussion about the chosen words.
5. Tweet about it. Collaborate to create a hashtag which represents the lesson idea. Ask students to post to Twitter the important concepts of the lesson. Expect everybody to post something within a given time period. Explain that if the topic is discussed thoroughly, the class can move on to the next lesson, if not, remediation will take place later in the week.
6. Use a backchannel. Offer students the opportunity to post questions or comments about the lesson using a Today’s Meet forum. Just before class ends, check the posts to offer answers to questions or rewards for quality comments.
Of course, there are many low-tech ways to take quick and easy formative assessments and probably the most valuable is often just to give the students a chance to stop and discuss something when the class is reading, the teacher is lecturing, or presentations are being shared. It is so easy to just pause and say, take a few seconds to discuss this with your neighbor. Then, ask students to offer up a synopsis of their discussion or ask questions which bubbled up during their discussion. Of course, if students are spending the time looking around, watching you, or sitting silently, this could indicate a couple of things that the teacher needs to consider. Does that mean the material isn’t challenging enough? Does that mean the material is so confusing that students don’t know where to begin?
In this day of high-stakes assessment which determines important results for students and serve as an evaluative measuring stick for teachers, we are ever mindful of monitoring student progress. We preserve teaching and learning time as much as possible and limit testing as much as we possibly can. Fast formative assessments can be some of the most valuable tools a teacher can implement as a way of learning what students know so that we can facilitate the learning of what they need to know.