Saturday, August 15, 2015

Three MUST USE online tools for Formative Assessment

Some buzz words I've been hearing lately are "formative" vs. "summative" assessment. It's taken me some time to wrap my head around them, but I think, for me at least, I've finally gotten the idea. The website from the Eberly Center of Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation really sums it up well. In a nutshell, here's what it says:

Formative assessment monitors student learning and is low it has little to no point value. It is a way to provide feedback to teachers to improve how they teach and to students to improve how they learn.

Summative assessment evaluates student learning and is high stakes, so it has a high point value. An example would be a midterm exam or a unit test.

Now that I am teaching in a block schedule, I need to be able to see how my students are doing before moving on to the next concept. I am used to (for 25 years!) teaching, students doing homework and reflecting, and then, very generally, reviewing with a warm-up and adding to it or moving on. But now, I may need to teach two major concepts in a day, or I will not nearly get through enough concepts.

So what I am going to try is to do some online formative assessment activities that also "change things up" for kids during block. What I mean is, I am going to break the block up into several mini lessons using these online tools: Desmos, Kahoot!Formative.

The first one is an activity builder from Desmos

Activity Builders just came out in August, and I was lucky enough to be in a Desmos workshop at Twitter Math Camp, where we played with this incredible DIY tool. It is absolutely AWESOME!!! It was so cool to work with Michael Fenton, and I got a little starstruck shaking the hand of founder and CEO Eli Luberoff.

Here is what one activity I made looks like from the teacher screen...students will answer one question at a time.

There are three screens you can put into the Activity Builder: (See directions here:

  • A Graph Screen: if, for example, you ask students to graph a line that contains two particular points, you can look at the teacher screen and see that all of the graphs are in alignment (YES! They get it!) or if there are a few students struggling.
  • A Question Screen: you can ask a question, import a graph if you want students to base it off of one, and there is a place to check whether or not students can see any other student's responses...only 3 student answers will show up at a time, which is great because then students won't just copy an answer--if all were there, they might not even do the problem. But a selection of 3 is nice!
  • A Text Screen: This is just to tell them what the activity is or to say it ended, or you could even give them instructions or a formula on it. 
Then you can mix and match as the way, saying mix and match, if you haven't tried Desmos Polygraph, you ARE missing out. And now, you can make your own! My friend made one at TMC for Calculus, and it was SO COOL! And you MUST try it with Kittens!

The second one is Kahoot!

I had heard of Kahoot! before, but I didn't see it in action till Twitter Math Camp, when @jreulbach showed it as a My Favorite. It was really fun and competitive, and is based on getting high scores for being both correct and fast...most of my students enjoy competition, and for the ones that do not, it does not have to be played everyday. Also, if I'm not mistaken, only the first few student names are shown, so if students don't do well, I don't think it shows their score. It's a nice, quick change of pace that I know I will use to transition during the 90 minute block.

From jlavely64's Kahoot on

Here's one I made that I am using as a Precalculus slope warm-up. Rather than review on paper, students do it while playing an exciting game...aka "learning without even trying." I love that you can go to youtube and pick a song and video to play while kids are putting in the code, and then you get to add ridiculous pictures that make me laugh, like the one below--lots of room for pictures (so that also means graphs) on this one.

The third one is Formative.

And finally, I just learned about formative from Melanie at her blog When Life Hands You Lemmas (love that name). Please look at her blog, as she explains it really well, but you can assign a quick Do Now or Exit Ticket or Show Your Work, and you can see what ALL of the kids are writing/typing/drawing at once (i.e., LIVE RESULTS) on YOUR computer! 

Or you can import your own document, and it will look like this, and they touch the box and can type in it...

You can also import videos! AND you give them the right answers so they can check. AND you can write feedback for each student OR each question! It's pretty unbelievable. 

I can see using it these tools every single day in one of four different ways: 

I hope you like these as much as I do...they are all very user friendly, which means you can make them quickly...and use them from year to year and class to class. They are all SO EASY!

One more thing...if you haven't seen Sarah's blog (if you haven't, do you live under a rock?? JKJK). Rather than blog once a day for 180 days, she is going to tweet a picture out each day, and she invited others to do it. She will use #teach180 (see her pic, below) and she asked if anyone else wants to join...why not?? I learn pretty much everything now from MTBoS...would love to learn from you as well. Let's do it!



Unknown said...

As a fellow GoFormative user, I primarily used it for math too. This year I plan to use it in Language Arts too! I can see using GoFormative with daily goal setting, writing starters and even a daily vocabulary word that they learned. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

Lisa Winer said...

Thanks, Dean!

Unknown said...

Excellent post, Lisa! I use Kahoot with my kids all the time, it's very engaging and easy to use. I'm a heavy goformative user: I use it to flip, to warm up, to exit ticket, and to get conversations going in class. I teach mathematics in Middle School, so that's my only experience, but I have seen other teachers use both in other content areas.

Anonymous said...

I'm a WL teacher and use this for vocabulary building, grammar checks, quick reads, answer prompts to listening comprehension. I've really been digging the embed tool recently bringing in Quizlet vocabulary lists and games as a prep for students when they get to the assessment. I'm looking at how I'll bring in games as well.

Lisa Winer said...

Thanks for the ideas!!