Closing the Gaps with Formative Assessments

formative-vs-summativeFormative Assessments provide information about how students are doing during instruction so that actions can occur to modify instruction based on that information.  These can be as large as a chapter test, or as small as a single ‘check for understanding’ question after presenting new material. Formative Assessments assess where students are at that particular point in time so teachers can address gaps in learning and adjust instruction accordingly.

If we can close these gaps and modify instruction by using formative assessments:

  • Why do we only use tools like Kahoot & Quizlet Live as review games at the end of a chapter or unit?
  • Why aren’t we using these tools throughout learning the process?
  • Why don’t we use these tools in a variety of ways?
  • Why haven’t we harnessed the power of the data we get from these tools to help our students close gaps in their learning?

Most likely we can give one common answer: “That’s not how these tools are presented to us and that’s not what we were told they are for.”

As you read through the following formative assessments, think about how you can use formative assessment tools to do the following:

  1. Teach a new topic while getting feedback
  2. Use the data from these tools to differentiate instruction
    1. For all students
    2. For students who are showing gaps in the learning
  3. Use student feedback to help drive instruction

Physical Exit Tickets

Exit tickets can be as simple as students showing how well they understand the day’s material by holding up beteen 1-5 fingers:

  • 1 finger means they have very litle understanding
  • 5 fingers means they completely understand.

Teachers can also have students solve a problem, write the answer on a Post-It Note, and leave it on the door as they leave the class.  Feel free to leave your favorite physical exit ticket in the comments below.

Technology Exit Tickets

Socrative offers a digital exit ticket where teachers only need to write one question. These exit tickets can be used by simply opening Socrative Teacher and clicking Exit Ticket. The students are asked:

  1. How well did you understand today’s material?
  2. What did you learn in today’s class?
  3. Please answer the teacher’s question

For question 3, teachers can either have a question built into their slides, or just give an oral question which focuses on that day’s learning objective.  This same exit ticket could be created through other tech tools such as Google Forms, Schoology Quizzes, etc…

So remember, exit tickets only take a few minutes to create, a few minutes for students to complete and most imporantly they allow teachers to have insight as to where a gap in learning has occurred. This allows teachers to close gaps sooner by addressing them that evening with a follow-up screencast, or the next day by adjusting instruction.

GoFormative & ClassKick

Both of these tools allow students to work out problems during class, or even as homework, while the teacher can see in real time where students are struggling or succeeding. This allows the teachers to focus on students who may need more help along the way without delaying feedback.  When students receive feedback in real time, we can not only close gaps in learning in more effective ways, we can close these gaps before they become too wide and require more time and effort – which may discourage students from putting forth more effort.

Blind Kahoot

Instead of using Kahoot the day before a test to review material that students should already know, why not use it as a teaching tool where students are more engaged in the process. While the material is being presented students are being asked key questions that tie into the learning objective. These questions tend to be narrower in scope and encourage students to ask more questions about what this new topic.

What’s that you say?  Kahoot being used to promote Inquiry Based Learning?  Personally I think inquiry based learning is where we need to be if we are ever going to unleash the true power of using technology in the classroom.  Hopefully that will be my next blog post – stay tuned.


About Sean Scanlon

Director of Instructional Technology Marian Catholic High School Google Certified Trainer
This entry was posted in Assessments, Education, Learning Management System, Professional Development and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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