Four Powerful Formative Assessment Tools

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Formative assessments is one of the foundations of good teaching and learning. Teachers need to know what students know in order to personalize learning for their students. Many tech tools are now able to provide rich and meaningful data for teachers. Though there are many great tools out there I would like to mention four tools I have noticed this year which are crazy easy to use and provide for an engaging learning environment for students. Three of the tools are technology based and one has no technology involved

Everywhere I go across the world, teachers are using Kahoot. It is a crazy easy to use tool in which students are given a quiz. Students log in to Kahoot on any device with a “game pin,” there name and then they are set. Students then answer multiple choice questions and are rewarded for both the correct answer and also how fast they answer the question. There is an engaging soundtrack which makes students feel as if thekahooty are in a game show. After each question, or round, students are ranked and the high scores are displayed. Students love a good game and though this comes across as a game, teachers gather great formative data about what their students know and are able to do.

You can find out more at Kahoot.it

I was first introduced to plickers at FlipCon15 in East Lansing Michigan this past July. A couple of presenters used this to collect formative data from teachers in their sessions. Plickers is a “clicker” system without a clicker. Instead of students needing to have a device to give instantaneous feedback to their teacher, it is a lower-tech solution. Teachers print, yes that’s right-print out cards that look like inkblots. These are essentially QR code cards. Each card is unique and can be assigned to different students. Each card has four orientations to indicate whether they choose a, b, c or d.

plickersWhen the teacher wants formative feedback they post the question from the pliickers.com website. The question is then displayed on a classroom screen. Students respond by holding up their card in an orientation matching their answer. The teacher then uses a mobile app (iOS or Android) and scans the room. And instantly, the teacher gathers the data. And if the teacher assigns a specific card to each student, then all of the formative data is connected to each student.

What I love about this tool is that it is very easy to use and doesn’t require all students to have a device. The teacher merely needs a computer, projector and one mobile device. This is the anti-clicker clicker.

So go to Plickers.com, sign up for a free account, print up your own set of cards and you will be set.

I got introduced to Curriculet by Kate Baker (@KtBkr4) as Aaron Sams (@chemicalsams) and I were writing the book Flipped Learning for English Instruction. Curriculet is a tool which allows a teacher to flip reading by collecting data about student reading times, comprehension, and feedback.

From the student end, curriculet “feels” like reading from a kindle. Yet built into the program is the ability for teachers to add questions, annotations, and even video into the reading. All the while, the program tracks how much time students are engaged in the reading, what their answers are to the embedded questions, and all of the interactions they have while reading.

A teacher can either use an existing book in the curriculet library, upload a file they want students read, or link to a website they want student to read. They can then add annotations, questions, or video to the text. Students have to create a login so that data can be tracked and when students have completed the reading, the teacher knows
How many minutes students spent on the reading. It is even broken down by chapter for longer passages.
How students responded to teacher created embedded questionscurriculet

I have used this tools to flip some of my flipped professional development and have found that it is a very effective tool for gathering formative data from my students.

So go over to curriculet.com to sign up and try out this great tool

The No-Tech Approach
I would be remiss if I didn’t give you what I think is the best tool for formative assessment in the classroom. This tool has no technology. The tool is called Face-to-Face Interactions. In my 28 years as an educator, I have found that sitting down in small groups with students (or teachers) and having a dialogue is the most effective formative assessment strategy. I find that having students ask me or their peers questions and participate in meaningful dialogue is the most effective strategy. One of the reasons I believe that this is the most effective strategy is because good teaching is about relationships and connections. And nothing tells a student that you value them like sitting down in small groups and having a thoughtful dialogue with them.


Good questioning and dialogue is an art form and can be taught. I will be addressing this strategy in an upcoming blog post and radio show, so stay tuned for more later.

Your Tools
What tools do you have that you find helpful for formative assessment. I would love to hear your thoughts.

4 Responses

  1. Pingback : Three top Tech Tools for Formative Assessments Plus One Non-Tech Tool via Jon Bergmann | teaching knowledge and creativity

  2. Hi Jon,

    I just stumbled upon this post. My site (for ESL teachers) just released a placement test.

    What teachers are loving the most about it, is that we automatically build out the student’s individual learning plan based on their results. It’s somewhat similar to the applications you’re talking about here, but we go one step further and match the learning content to the student’s needs. Would love to hear what you think,


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