Making Assessments Fun, and Low Stress for Students

Posted by Reine L. on Dec 26, 2016 11:45:00 AM

Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 2.40.51 PM.pngWhen incorporated into classroom practice, the formative assessment process provides information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are still happening. The formative assessment process guides teachers in making decisions about future instruction.  Here are a few examples that may be used in the classroom during the formative assessment process to collect evidence of student learning. Observations, Questioning, Discussion, Exit/Admit Slips, Learning/Response Logs, Graphic Organizers, Peer/Self Assessments, Practice Presentations, Visual Representations, Individual Whiteboards, and Constructive Quizzes.

Following are a few examples that are fun and less stressful for students:

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 7.35.37 AM-1.pngLaundry Day is a strategy of increasing a students’ chance of success on an upcoming chapter or unit test, because on laundry day students are able to evaluate their own learning. Group students in the classroom in categories of four different kinds of laundry detergent: Tide, Gain, Bold and Cheer. Within each group, students work on activities to enrich or improve their understanding of the content. The teacher provides support as needed, and none of the work generated during this time counts as a grade.

Four Corners is an impromptu, and quick tool used in the formative assessment process to evaluate student understanding while engaging students in conversation about controversial topics. Label the four corners of the classroom as Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Next present students with a statement like “All students should wear uniforms to school,” and have them move to the corner that expresses their opinion. In each corner of selected viewpoint, students discuss why they feel the way that they do. Teachers listen carefully to student discussions and evaluate the students informally based on the information provided to support their opinion. Four Corners can be associated with any multiple-choice quiz by simply labeling the corners of the classroom with A, B, C, and D. Students respond to a teacher-created question by choosing the corner that represents the answer.

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 7.41.42 AM.pngAppointment Clock is a simple formative assessment embedded within any lesson. The teacher directs students to find three classmates with whom to schedule appointments at the quarter hour, the half hour, and the 45-minute mark. During the lesson, the teacher pauses the lesson and directs students to answer the questions on the overhead projector (or printed on paper) with their quarter hour appointment classmates. The teacher walks around the room and listens to the conversations taking place between partners, noting misconceptions or misunderstandings to adjust instruction in the lesson. Students then break and meet with their classmates on the half-hour appointment, and again for a 45-minute appointment with the same three classmates. The teacher is able to determine the students understanding and make immediate adjustments to re-teach, or review the concept in the lesson.

Peer/Self-Assessments create a learning community within the classroom. When students are involved in goal-setting criteria, self-evaluation becomes a logical step in the learning process. This is a metacognitive approach where students become aware of personal strengths and weaknesses. Peer assessment fosters “zone of proximal development” in learning because it requires each student to think about what they know in their own learning, articulate what they understand, still need to learn, and achievement improves.

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Two Stars and a Wish: During the writing process, students are paired and asked to read each other’s written work. The reader must identify two things the author did well (stars) and one specific suggestion for improvement (the wish). Before implementing this strategy, students must be trained on the process of providing appropriate feedback to their peers. The teacher can use this strategy as a formative assessment by circulating around the classroom and listening to the conversations between partners.


Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 7.50.19 AM.pngWindshield Check: This formative assessment can be used to have students check their own understanding of a concept just taught in a lesson. Using the analogy of a windshield, students will decide which of the following best describes what they know about the concept: CLEAR = I get it! I thoroughly understand the concept. BUGGY = I understand it for the most part, but a few things are still MUDDY = I don’t get it at all. This assessment can quickly let the teacher know if there are major or minor misunderstandings, and help him/her design instruction to clarify any misconceptions before moving on.

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 7.53.53 AM.pngIf you are looking for some on-line ways to administer formative assessments, begin with Socrative. Socrative allows you to assess student knowledge in the form of quizzes, quick question polls, exit tickets and games. Quizzes can range from multiple choice, true/false, Short Answer and Open-Response questions.

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 7.58.08 AM.pngPlickers is an ed-tech tool that requires minimal technology, provides instant feedback without requiring the entire class to own a device. To get started, sign-up, add a class, create questions, and print student cards. Use a phone to scan answers and then review generated reports. It’s a fun way to check understanding.

Edulastic is an online resource where teachers can customize tests using their own questions or items from its query bank.

Quizlet is a free online tool that helps students learn and study any subject. Educators can sign-up for a free account with up to eight classes and distribute subsets to students as well as formulate assessments from each question bank.

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TodaysMeet is a backchannel that allows educators to create “rooms” where they can pose questions, create exit tickets and discussion prompts while watching their students.


The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. More specifically, formative assessments: help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work.


Topics: Classroom Ideas, Common Core, Literacy

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