Formative Assessment Strategies

These are short, informal assessment ideas to allow students to show their understanding of a topic.

1.     Quick Write


Student writes for 2-3 minutes about what he heard from a lecture or explanation/read/learned. Could be an open-ended question from teacher


2.     12 Word Summary

In 12 words or less, have students summarize important aspects of a particular chunk of instruction or reading.


3.     3-2-1

Students jot down 3 ideas, concepts, or issues presented. Students jot down 2 examples or uses of idea or concept. Students write down 1 unresolved question or a possible confusion.


4.     Muddiest Point

Students are asked to write down the muddiest point in the lesson (up to that point, what was unclear)


5.     Quick Class Check

Give students paper plates, index cards, whiteboard, or large sheets of paper when they enter. When asking a question have ALL students write the answer and at your signal, have ALL students hold up the plate (or whatever) so that you can see who/ how many got the answer. Discussion to elaborate can follow.


6.     Class Vote

Present several possible answers or solutions to a question or problem and have students vote on what they think is best.


7.     Idea Wave

Each student lists 3-5 ideas about the assigned topic. One volunteer begins the “idea wave” by sharing his idea. The student to the right of the volunteer shares one idea; the next student to rights shares one idea. Teacher directs the idea wave until several different ideas have been shared. At the end of the formal idea wave, a few volunteers who were not included may contribute.


8.     Tickets to Enter and Exit

Teacher asks students a specific question about the lesson. Students then respond on the ticket and gives to teacher, either on their way out or on their way in the next day. Teacher can then evaluate the need to re-teach or questions that need to be answered.


9.     Four Corners


Teacher posts questions, concepts, or vocabulary words in each of the corners of the room. Each student is assigned a corner. Once in the corner, the students discuss the focus of the lesson in relation to the question, concept, or words. Students may report out or move to another corner and repeat. After students have moved, as a writing assignment they should be encouraged to reflect on changes in opinion or what they have learned.


10.  Give One/Get One


Students are given papers and asked to list 3-5 ideas about the learning. Students draw a line after their last idea to separate his/her ideas from classmate’s lists. Students get up and interact with one classmate at a time. Exchange papers, read your partner’s list, and then ask questions about new or confusing ideas.


11.  Concept Mapping


Explain/ model a concept map. After lecture, explanation, or reading, have students fill in concept map (partner or individually). Report out.


12.  Flash Cards


After 10 minutes into a lecture or concept presentation, have students create a flash card that contains the key concept or idea. Toward the end of the class, have students work in pairs to exchange ideas and review the material.


13.  Learning Cell


Students develop questions and answers on their own (possibly using the Q-Matrix). Working in pairs the first student asks a question and the partner answers and vice versa. Each student can correct the other until a satisfactory answer is reached. (Good way to encourage students to go back to the text book).


14.  One Minute Paper


Teacher decides what the focus of the paper should be. Ask students “What was the most important thing you learned? What important question remains unanswered? Set aside 5-10 minutes of next class to discuss the results. May be used in the middle of a class also.


15.  Signal Cards/Thumbs Up- Thumbs Down


Create cards to check for understanding. green means “I got it”, yellow means “I’m not sure, Maybe”, and blue means “I’m lost. I have questions”


16.  Transfer and Apply


Students list what they have learned and how they might apply it to their real lives. Students list interesting ideas, strategies, concepts learned in class or chunk of class. They then write some possible way to apply this learning in their lives, another class, or in their community.


17.  Circular Check

Students in groups are given a problem with a definite answer (good for math & science). First students complete first step without contribution from others in group and passes it to the next student. Second student corrects any mistakes and completes next step, again without input from the group. Problem gets passed to next student and the process continues until the group has the correct answer.


18.  Double Entry Journal

Students create a four-column journal. Column one is “Notes or Questions,” column two is “My Response,” column three is “Partner Response,” and the final column is “Summary/Reflection.” Teachers can provide guided questions in the first column. Students respond with partners to complete this journal.


19.  I Have, Who Has?

Create a set of cards with vocabulary terms, math problems, or concepts. Definitions/answers and questions/terms should be included. Students each receive a card and must identify who has the matching card. Use this as an observation strategy to identify students who are struggling with the concept.


20.  Fishbowl

A core group of five to six students are placed in the middle of the classroom with the rest surrounding and being attentive listeners. Students in center are given a guiding question and respond in group discussion. Students outside the “fishbowl” can compose a t-chart of the responses. Students can be “tagged in” to participate. This is a great opportunity to observe student thinking and background knowledge.


21.  Stop-Lighting

Have students label each question on an assessment or activity with a color. Green means “I got it,” yellow means “I’m not sure,” and red means “I’m lost. I have questions!”


22.  Think/Pair/Share or Turn and Talk

Students think and formulate answers individually, then pair and share with a partner, and then share responses with the class.


23.  Commercial Break

This is a mid-class break that allows students to stop and reflect on the concepts and ideas that have been introduced, make connections using prior knowledge and experience, and seek clarification.

·      I changed my attitude about…

·      I became more mindful of…

·      I was shocked about…

·      I related to…


24.  Portfolio

Check the progress of a student’s portfolio. A portfolio is a purposeful collection of significant work, carefully selected, dated, and presented to tell the story of a student’s achievement or growth in a well-defined area of performance. A portfolio usually includes personal reflections about why each piece was chosen and what it shows about their growing abilities.


25.  Misconception Check

Present students with predictable or common misconceptions about a topic, then ask them whether they agree or disagree and explain why. This may be used as a pre- and post-learning strategy.