Top Tips, Tools and Techniques for Easy Formative Assessment

a Talk with Tony Vincent

A secret to great teaching is to understand what students know. I’ve had times when one or two students begged me to move on because what I was teaching was “so easy” or they were “bored. When I did, I would discover that the rest of the class did not master the material and I had moved on too quickly! We all struggle to know what students know “in the moment” so we can adjust our teaching. We need them to master the material. We need to teach it. But how can we know what they know without depending on hand raising and verbal feedback from just a few students? Formative assessment is the answer. Formative assessment can supercharge your classroom learning. Technology can make formative assessment easier for you. Lesson flow.

formative assessment tips techniques and tools

Formative assessment gives us the ability to quiz every single student in the class. Every teacher should have one or two formative assessment tools that are part of their lesson flow. In today’s show, you’ll get lots of options. Find one or two that work for you and start using them.

I would go so far to say that formative assessment is one of the greatest gifts of education technology to the classroom. A teacher with a smartphone has amazing tools in hand. Used properly, they can save time and help you understand students better.

My question is why more teachers don’t use these tools. I guess they don’t realize the time savings. One of our biggest problems as teachers is not having enough time.

Here’s how I saved time using these tools. When I used to teach binary numbers, it used to take me 2-3 hours a night to grade the quizzes. (After all, binary numbers is all 1’s and 0’s. That is it. So, I also made mistakes.) Now, the moment a student hits a button on the last question, the quiz is graded, and I can go over what they missed with them! It is fantastic.

Let’s dive deeper into formative assessment in today’s show! I challenge you to find ONE tool and try it out. (Listen to the show and check out the links at the bottom of this post.)

Listen to this show on BAM Radio Network | iTunes 

Easy Grading

Gradecam – Today’s Sponsor

Formative assessment options can save you time. GradeCam is a quick grading tool for formative AND summative assessment. You get instant feedback on what students know. Gradecam lets you print out forms. You can take a quick picture of their answers. It grades in a snap using your smartphone.  If you are taking the grade for the quiz or test, you can send those grades to your Gradebook software in a snap.

If you visit Gradecam from this blog post, you can get a 60-day free trial. You can also listen to a bonus episode I recorded about the “Biggest Formative Assessment Mistake that People Make” with Tony Vincent. 

Show Notes:

  • What is formative assessment?
  • How can technology empower a teacher to ask the whole class a question and get their answer?
  • How does a formative assessment fit in the moment of teaching?
  • What are some examples of technology and formative assessment in the classroom?
  • What mistakes do many teachers make when they use Plickers in the classroom?
  • How can teachers collect open ended questions from students?
  • How can word clouds help you visualize data at the beginning of a unit of study?
  • How does formative assessment give every student voice?
  • How can students share using drawings and images?
  • How can we have evidence of learning in the moment?

Formative Assessment Tools and Blog Posts Mentioned in this Show:

Who is Tony Vincent?

Tony Vincent likes to learn, teach, and make things. Since 1998 Tony been a pioneer in digital learning, and he continues to help educators use technology for teaching and learning. @tonyvincent

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One thought on “Top Tips, Tools and Techniques for Easy Formative Assessment

  1. Thanks for another great podcast! I have been focusing on formative assessment in our district and I appreciated your thoughts and Tony’s.

    One thing I found interesting is that Tony said formative assessment often brings to mind “formal”, but it’s really informal. This is actually the opposite of what I’ve had to tell the teachers I work with!

    I see Tony’s point, but I’ve found “informal” is the first answer many of them give when I ask what formative assessment is. As such, they like to say they’re using it regularly even if the assessment is just a show of hands.

    I’ve been trying to emphasize the entire formative assessment process, from creating good questions to giving good feedback that impacts students’ next steps. As you say in the podcast, technology has given us many opportunities to do this better.

    So yes, sometimes the actual presenting of the questions will be quick and on the fly. But as a whole it is a practice that has structure, requires planning and will take some time to do it effectively.