Formative assessments help educators guide instruction. They allow us to track understanding, differentiate lessons and determine when students are ready to move forward. Formative assessments help us make the best use of instructional time.
Since they do inform instruction, we should incorporate them on a regular — even daily — basis. I use pivotEd, a digital curriculum with assessments built into the instruction. I can assign activities to my class and monitor student feedback in real time. It also helps foster discussion. Students can see how their peers have responded to questions — in a non-competitive way — and post comments. This has been great for students who tend to be timid in class. They can now participate in the conversation, in a way that’s not intimidating to them.
Formative assessments don’t have to be complicated, highly planned events. The best methods are simple, easy to implement and give you transparency into students’ progress. pivotEd helps me identify where students are struggling and adjust my instruction accordingly so I can keep them on track for their learning targets.
Dawn Nelson is a school library media specialist at Oak View Elementary School in Minnesota.
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