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Formative Assessment - Wednesday Class


Wednesday, Fall 2009

Group Members
Mary Ducar
Torey Hartwell
Jill Cooper
Sabrina Claude
Lida Sacia
Terry Hancharik
Ian Parker

History and Information

Formative assessment is a process of assessing student knowledge; it assists learning and constantly informs instruction. It is a series of varied assessments that makes the students’ thinking visible to others. Some people define formative assessments as little 'dollops' of information that help a teacher define and re-define ‘real-time’ what will be taught next. The assessments can include observations, summaries or reviews that help the teacher know if students are “getting it.” It also includes ongoing feedback to students. One important component of formative assessment provides for students performing peer and self assessment.

If teachers perform ongoing formative assessments they will see percentile gains in formative assessments for all students. It is important to point out that formative assessment about grading a student’s work; it is about assisting students in their quest to learn.

Many resources are available to support a teacher’s efforts to use formative assessment. A range of divergent questioning techniques, check lists, graphic organizers, sorting tools, visual representations, note taking strategies, foldables, student reflection and collaborative assignments can be strategically used to make the most of the assessment process.

Formative assessment is an important tool to use when we differentiate instruction. It can be managed without interruption and can be geared to individual readiness.

Some of the best information on formative assessment can be found by reading the works of Paul Black and Dylan William. They strongly advocate for educators to make the shift toward formative assessment. For a quick overview of their position, read Black and William’s article: Inside The Black Box, Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment at: http://weaeducation.typepad.co.uk/files/blackbox-1.pdf.

PowerPoint with execellent overview of formative and summative assessment: www.govwentworth.k12.nh.us/ASSESSMENT.ppt

This wiki should provide you with resources to help you think of and use creative formative assessments in your own classroom.


Dodge, J. (2009). 25 quick formative assessments for a differentiated classroom
. New York: Scholastic.

Formative and Summative Assessments in the classroom. Retrieved on September 10, 2009 from http://www.nmsa.org/Publications/WebExclusive/Assessment/tabid/1120/Default.aspx

Summaries & Reflections

These types of formative assessments focus on students taking time to stop and reflect on what they have just learned. When students make personal connections they have a better chance of retaining the knowledge.

Some examples of quick and easy formative assessments:
*Dry Erase Boards
*Journals & Reading Responses
*A-B-C Summaries
*Cheat Sheets
*3-2-1 Summarizers
*Draw a Picture
*Card Sort


Dodge, J. (2009). 25 quick formative assessments for a differentiated classroom. New York: Scholastic.

Lists, Charts and Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers, lists, and charts all help teach students how to vividly organize their thoughts. They are used to provide visual support that will assist the student in learning and understanding what is being taught. In addition, they are used to arrange writing assignments, help with problem solving, studying, brainstorming, and planning for research. When a student has mastered the ability to transfer information to a graphic organizer, this increases the student’s understanding and insight into a subject. The possibilities connected with the subject become easily comprehensible.

Graphic organizers come in many formats and can be used be used in multiple ways across academic disciplines. According to McTighe (1992), teachers can use graphic organizers as instructional tools to aid in the visual transfer of knowledge. More specifically, McTighe outlines the following ways that graphic organizers can be used by teachers to facilitate the learning process for students: before, during, and after instruction.

Before instruction: Teachers can utilize organizers in order to gather prior knowledge from students before the introduction of a new skill.
During instruction: Graphics organizers allow students to organize and process key concepts as they learn them.
After instruction: Students can independently summarize, make connections, as well as compare and contrast the information they have acquired from the lesson.

The following video is a demonstration of how a graphic organizer can be used in whole group guided practice.
Additional Graphic Organizer Resources
This website provides downloadable graphic organizers for all academic subjects that can be
customized for instruction.

This website contains mathematical graphic organizers and literature to assist in mathematical
problem solving.

This is a video demonstrating how to make a pinwheel.

Additional graphic organizers under the title "graphic organizer".

This website offers a huge selection of graphic organizers and charts.

Visual Representations of Information

Visual representations allow students to make connections through the use of words, models, and pictures. Visual representations assist students in their ability to remember information and attach meaning in ideas. Students can build skills in oral and written communication, creativity, research, and reading and thinking. They can increase their abilities to relate, debate, explain and discuss content topics; design and diagram similarities and differences; discover and question through their analysis using hands on techniques. The ability to read and think will cross curricular lines in reading for the main idea, comparisons and contrast, cause and effect, or analysis of fact and opinion. Educators must carefully select the type of visual representation to be used by determining the desired outcome. Whether it is a foldable, diorama, list, chart, or physical model will depend upon the topic being addressed. The goal is for learners to develop and visualize mental pictures to assist in their learning.

Dodge, J. (2009). 25 quick formative assessments for a differentiated classroom. New York: Scholastic.
Fisher, D & Frey, N. (2007). Checking for understanding: Formative assessment techniques for your
. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Keeley, P. (2008). Science formative assessment. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press and NSTA Press.
Wormeli, R. (2008).
Summarization in any subject.
Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Zike, D. (2002). . Big book of social studies. San Antonio, Texas: Dinah-Might Adventures L.P.
Zike, D. (2004). . Big book of Science. San Antonio, Texas: Dinah-Might Adventures L.P.

has good ideas for foldables and it is the author’s website for the books listed above

has great printables for all kinds of visual representations of materials

defines the different organizers out there with examples

has great ideas on formative assessments for language arts

-good example for quick write/quick draw format

give a list of 100 ideas for writing

3 sites with terrific pictograph resources

Collaborative Activities
Collaborative formative assessment should take place pre instruction, throughout instruction and post instruction. Collaborative techniques help create a learning community in the classroom while engaging one another in metacognitive thinking. It may take the form of collective ideas or look more like an organized debate. The teacher’s role in the process is to guide the students into thinking aloud. This verbal thinking process is how the teacher will collect the data he or she needs to formulate the next step of instruction. The teacher must use this data to reflect herself. “What do they already know about a topic?” “What misunderstandings did I hear?” “What are the gray areas that we really need to explore?” The teacher will use questioning to pull as much verbal response from the students as possible, mentally noting students with input that will be useful for the rest of the class. The students together as a group can set norm behaviors and establish goals and criteria for success. The teacher’s role is facilitator, listener, and designer. Throughout instruction, students can give each other feedback. Post instruction, before summative assessment, verbal collaborative assessment may look like a class formulated summary or key points that reflect students learning throughout the unit.
One example of collaborative formative assessment involves using key vocabulary and attributes. Students are given key vocabulary, provided by the teacher, to decide if each word fits or does not fit into the “big idea” circle of the unit. Class involvement includes placement of the words and discussion of the placement of the words. Some words may be shifted in or out of the attribute circle by different students. With questioning techniques, the teacher prompts discussion getting students to think metacognitively. This also gets them involved in their own learning process.