Formative Friday: Formative Assessments To Mix It Up!

The Basics: There are two types of assessments – formative and summative. Formative assessments are used during the learning cycle to inform instruction.  Summative assessments are the, “DID YOU LEARN IT?!” moments. There are tons of ways to formatively assess your students, but like most people, teachers tend to fall into using the same strategies over and over. While there isn’t anything wrong with that, I know I like to mix things up sometimes.  I’ve compiled just a few ideas here, and I’ll be posting more in the future!

*Please excuse my art. I didn’t keep any of my student’s notebooks from the last two years, so I had to recreate it myself… I’m still working on that beautiful calligraphy thing.*

Odd One OUt

Select ideas/concepts you are studying that group together and add one that justifiably does not fit. Make sure to choose items where the relationship requires some deeper thinking to make the connection – don’t make it too easy! You can provide the list on a handout or just post on the board, but make sure to give students a focus for their thinking — characteristics of matter, organism classifications, the periodic table, geologic processes. Have students spend some time thinking alone before adding in a partner, and provide enough time for students to consider many possibilities. Then, feel free to reveal the “odd one out” and see if students agree!


Paint THe Picture

Paint the Picture is perfect for identifying student misconceptions at any point in the learning cycle – prior to the unit, after the explore cycle, or as a final evaluation. Use it in your #interactivenotebooks to track understanding and progress toward student #learninggoals. Paint the Picture allows students to express their conceptual model in a visual format – often revealing facets of understanding not easily expressed in words. In this picture, the student understands the molecules are moving toward each other, but they may mistakenly believe they are also getting smaller. Would you have caught that in a written response?


annotated drawings

Annotated drawings are a great way to see what’s going on in students brains, especially when they may not have the vocabulary to fully explain their ideas. It opens up opportunities to catch misconceptions and identify exactly where students are in their understanding of a concept – especially when it’s a struggle to get students to write anything at all! I love using annotated drawings as both an assessment (formative, summative, you name it!) AND as a way to take notes!


First word, last word

This is an awesome way to assess prior knowledge and assess understanding at the end of a unit. The gist is that you give students a term, and they use each letter of the word to express one thing they know about that term. You repeat the activity at the end of the lesson or unit to see how their understanding has changed.