Formative Assessment Tools

icon-36969_640One of the benefits of working in a 1:1 environment is the ease with which a teacher can assign, collect, and analyze formative assessments.  Done at the beginning or end of class, formative assessments can take no more than a few minutes but can yield enormous benefits for teachers and students alike.* Teachers can learn in minutes whether students “got” the lesson, and in many cases, students can learn in the same amount of time what they (mis)understood.  Teachers can use this information to immediately tweak instruction for the benefit of the students rather than waiting perhaps weeks to find out that the students really didn’t understand that very important concept and went on to fail a large portion of a unit test.  Since such assessments are given online, there’s no paper to shuffle or file, and results are instantaneous with very little work on the teacher’s part.

The following is a list of sites that can be used to create online formative assessments of various kinds such as multiple choice, true/false, and short answer questions.  All are FREE, but some have different capabilities than others, so it’s best to play around with each.  For instance, some will give you results for each individual student, while others will give overall results for the entire class.  Once you know how to use these sites, you can create a couple of questions quickly, even at the spur of the moment. This is particularly useful when you suspect a lesson is not going well but you want to double-check the students.

1.  Gnowledge

2.  Socrative

3.  Padlet

4.  TestMoz

5.  Quizdini

6.  Edmodo

7.  Google Docs

*Some teachers argue that unless they attach a grade to a given assignment, many students will not complete the assignment.  Formative assessments, however, are not meant to be graded for accuracy because they are meant to gauge understanding rather than monitor mastery of learning.  If you run into the problem of not all students completing the formative assessment, I would suggest that you assign points for completion/participation.  Or just don’t tell the students it isn’t for a grade and let them make the assumption.  Give some participation points for some formative assessments and not others.  The point is to keep the kids on their toes!



  1. I am glad you went ahead and addressed the grade issue. It’s taken me awhile to get comfortable with this, but ultimately I am the teacher and can choose “to grade or not to grade”. Students are not “owed” points just for being obedient. I do some points for completion, as you said; other times I simply look at it for my own gauge. Students can ( and DO) choose not to do things sometimes. Their choice! The world will teach them soon enough that’s a bad idea, and it might as well start with me. “You play the way you practice,” I constantly tell them. Not doing the daily exercises, writings, drill, assessments – whatever they are – will have its own punishment come test or essay time, whether I gave points for completion of not on the small stuff. I reached a point of being tired of feeling like I had to bribe or reward them for every thing they did. Moreover, doing that reinforces immediate gratification instead of long-term reward and learning for its own sake – which should be one of our goals for them. Great article; I’m going to check out some of these.

    • I agree. I think teachers have become a little fearful or hesitant about this issue. I think it has a lot to do with the “era of the course syllabus as contract.” We give them this syllabus that we sometimes refer to as a contract and think that it is unchangeable. But education is about change. I refer to my syllabus as “a living document.” It will change, and it is my right as the teacher to change it. That includes changing kinds of assignments, grading, etc. I promise a certain number of points, etc., but that’s the extent of my promises. I leave myself lots of wiggle room, and in the end, this benefits the students as much as myself, I think.

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