Five Formative Assessment Tools Recommended by Teacher Experts

By Swaroop Raju, co-founder of eduCanon
You just asked a question to your classroom of 30 students. One student raises her hand and gives the correct answer. It would be easy to assume that your class has gotten a grasp of the concept is ready to move on to the next learning objective. The reality, however, is that one student’s response does not reflect the overall level of understanding in your classroom.  
One possible solution is that you could deliver a quiz to each student. But the grading would take up too much class time and you’d be left without time to remediate misconceptions the quiz reveals.  
Fortunately, there are a handful of tools that make formative assessments a fast and fun process. We asked a few teacher experts what their favorite formative assessment tools are. 
Mike Voth, AP physics teacher, McKinney, Tex.
“Socrative provides quick and easy formative assessments. It is a great tool for making ALL students think about and respond to a question or discussion item. It works on almost every device and is completely free.”

2. TodaysMeet

Samantha Stebbins, high school math teacher, Riverside, Calif.
“Setting up TodaysMeet literally takes minutes. After the setup, you have a quick and easy way to communicate with your students, deliver formative assessments, and gauge the efficacy of a lesson.”


John Greenwood, 4th grade teacher, Huntsville, Ala.
“Our school hasn’t gone 1-to-1 yet, and my students don’t have devices they can bring to class. Plickers is an easy way for me to get a sense for each student’s understanding without any fancy tech. Students hold up a card for their answer choice and my iPhone camera automatically grades each response, giving me a quick visual of responses.” 
 4. Kahoot!
Johnnell Ramlow, 6th grade English-language arts teacher, Ozark, Mo.
“I use Kahoot! regularly. My students love the competitive side of this online quiz game. I love the instant feedback to know what I need to re-teach or spend more time on. I also love that I can find published quizzes to use, or make my own, or have kids make a quiz—they love that too.”
We’re going to add one more to this list: our own company. We obviously believe in our product, but teacher experts polled also recommended the platform as a tool to gauge student understanding during viewing of an educational video. 
Trent Goldsmith, accounting, economics and business teacher, Lansing, Mich.
“I use eduCanon in my classroom due to its compatibility with a blended classroom. EduCanon allows my students to create a ‘path’ and to take ownership for their own learning of concepts. It frees me up to teach application of these concepts in class. Furthermore, it allows me to check for understanding (through questioning during the videos), and it allows students to ‘get caught up’ if they are gone.”

See also:

  • When is an Educational App Classroom Worthy?

For more information follow @educanon123 on Twitter.


One thought on “Five Formative Assessment Tools Recommended by Teacher Experts

  1. While these tools appear to facilitate one approach to the evidence-gathering step in the formative assessment process, the article tends to reinforce the incorrect belief by far too many educators – and policymakers – that formative assessment is merely frequent testing. With the possible exception of eduCanon, the other tools seem to ignore any and all of the other formative assessment practices that comprise the process. For the benefit of readers, there’s general agreement that the process includes at least the following:

    • Teachers ensuring students understand learning targets and the criteria for- and path to – success (i.e. what success looks like and how to get there)
    • Teachers gathering rich evidence of student learning by observation, questioning, quizzes, etc.
    • Teachers, knowledgeable about learning progressions associated with learning targets, providing descriptive feedback on gaps in student learning
    • Teachers and students using the feedback to adjust learning and instructional activities
    • Students engaging in self-assessment and meta-cognitive reflection
    • Teachers activating other students as resources for support and assessment

    From the above list, I hope it’s clear that the tools cited in the article touch just a small part of the formative assessment process.

    I’m raising this point because of my concern that – by believing formative assessment is merely frequent testing – educators will ignore the process as a whole. Why does this matter? Individually and collectively, formative assessment practices have been researched more than any other type of assessment. The results are rather astounding: the process is more effective in increasing student learning than smaller classrooms and as effective as one-on-one tutoring. Furthermore, while helping all students grow, it supports greater growth among lower-performing ones, thereby helping to close achievement gaps. Simply frequent testing – even with these tools, can’t accomplish what the entire process can. So, I urge you to be more precise when using the term formative assessment – for the benefit of educators…and their students.

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