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3 Things You Need to Know About Formative Assessment

March 1, 2017

What does formative assessment look like in your classroom? With the release of my new book, I wanted to share a few big ideas. Here are three important things to consider about formative assessment.

Happening all the time

Formative assessment can take place before, during and after a lesson to give you valuable information for instructional decisions. A quick baseline quiz can also help you identify what students already know about a topic before you start teaching a lesson.

A backchannel can be used during a lesson to collect student questions and help you identify misconceptions. An exit slip after a lesson provides information you can use to decide the direction for tomorrow’s lesson.

Transformational routines

Digital tools can transform how you check for understanding by making it easier than ever to gather, organize and analyze information. From a question posted in Google Classroom to a screencast made with Explain Everything, technology can give you a window into student thinking like never before. Teachers can figure out which students need help and who has already mastered content. This can happen using the technology already available in your school – Chromebooks, iPads, smartphones, you name it!

Free and low-cost tools like Nearpod, Today’s Meet and Padlet can certainly transform the way you collect data on student understanding. Digital tools that work on any device can also give you information in real-time that can inform your future instruction.

Purposeful integration

It’s already happening and can get even better with purposeful planning. As educators we can tell who needs extra help in lots of different ways. This includes a look on a student’s face, a glance at a child’s notebook, or through a one-on-one conversation.

A simple interest survey before a lesson, an open thread in a discussion forum during a lesson, or a virtual exit slip after a lesson requires a plan. The use of technology tools and a purposeful plan can make formative assessment meaningful, sustainable and scalable.

Click here for a poster with five tips for using technology to check for understanding!

Are you struggling to implement formative assessment in meaningful, sustainable and scalable ways? Send an
 email to with your current obstacle and I will give you two personalized tips for making formative assessment feel purposeful in your school.

Check out my new book #FormativeTech: Meaningful, Sustainable, and Scalable Formative Assessment with Technology!


5 Tips for Formative Assessment!

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Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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