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Formative assessment is vital to teachers in any classroom environment. Teachers have been formatively assessing students for years, because we must know what our students know in order to help them understand what they do not know. Do you know what I mean?!

Fortunately, many classrooms are charging into the 21st century with technology initiatives. Whether your technology program has created a 1:1 environment, a BYOD system, or you have access to only a few devices in your classroom, these three tech tools will help you engage your students while simultaneously gauging their understanding of concepts.

Kahoot!

Kahoot! is a game-based student response system that’s as fun to play as it is to say! To get started with Kahoot!, teachers sign up for a free account, and then choose from a variety of activities to create something for their students. These activities include quiz, survey, or discussion options. The quiz option is definitely the favorite in my classroom. We use it as a bell ringer, test review, and more. Move over, PowerPoint Jeopardy!

When ready to begin the game, the teacher simply posts the game pin on the whiteboard. Students use the pin to access the game and then enter a nickname. Some of those nicknames are «interesting,» to say the least! If a display name is less than school appropriate, Kahoot! allows teachers to kick that student out of the game. He or she can re-enter the pin and choose a more appropriate name.

We’ve used Kahoot! in my classroom with remarkable success. All of my students love it and are excited to play. To encourage continued content review outside of the classroom, teachers can even share the Kahoot! link with their students, directing them to open two tabs so that they can play Kahoot! games on their own time.

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Formative

As its name implies, Formative, is another wonderful formative assessment tool. This free tool allows teachers to create assignments or utilize existing assessments, and share them with their students.

Teachers can assign these assessments by sending students a link or creating classrooms through a process nearly identical to that of a learning management system. Teachers choose from a variety of assessment options, including a traditional exit ticket requiring students to list what they learned that day or the concepts that they don’t yet grasp. Students can also draw their responses, which would be fantastic in a math or science classroom.

Teachers can view student responses to assessments in real time, and can determine whether a key should be used to grade the assessment. (As of this writing, keys cannot be used for a drawing/free-response assessment.)

Creating an assignment is extremely simple, providing teachers with a variety of question options (multiple-choice, drawing, etc.). Teachers can also embed content from their computer (images or PDF files only) or from YouTube. Other options include a whiteboard or text block, which would be amazing for a flipped lesson or assignment. Think about the possibilities for substitute work!

Padlet

Padlet is normally seen as a collaborative or presentation tool. However, it also offers many ways to formatively assess student knowledge. Despite a variety of Padlet account options, I’ve stayed with the free account because it’s familiar and does what I need it to do. To open an account on the free version of Padlet, create your own username and password combination, or use a social media account. And now you’re ready to start creating.

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Padlet offers users an online corkboard, complete with customizable backgrounds and images. You can even choose a custom URL which makes directing students to your Padlet wall extremely easy.

You can also choose to create a password-protected Padlet, ensuring a safer online environment for your students. You can moderate Padlet posts, which means teacher approval before student posts are visible to other students. I recommend the moderation option because it discourages students from copying a classmate’s post and encourages independent thinking and unique responses.

Padlet works well as a classroom backchannel when students post questions, relevant comments, or additional information from the web during a lecture or an instructional (flipped) video. During the video, post questions that require students to dive deeper into the video content, while remaining engaged in the film. When I show Lincoln in my government class, I post questions on Padlet to keep the students engaged in the content. (If you are interested in viewing this activity, please check out my Teaching With Technology post.) So long, boring viewing guides!

Padlet is also an amazing tool to use for standardized test review. As students review content from the year, encourage them to post any lingering questions about course material. Teachers can use this type of Padlet as a lecture tool, or create an instructional video with the Padlet wall as a backdrop.

These tools are all free and extremely easy to use. Try them out in your classroom. And if you’re already familiar with them, please share your experiences in the comments below.

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