Magazine article AMLE Magazine

8 Digital Formative Assessment Tools to Improve Motivation

Magazine article AMLE Magazine

8 Digital Formative Assessment Tools to Improve Motivation

Article excerpt

The silver bullet for closing the achievement gap these days seems to be formative assessment. In simple terms, formative assessment is any ongoing activity that helps teachers gain information about student learning-information they can then use to adjust their instruction and provide more specific feedback to students who are then motivated to reach their learning goals.

Although the definition is relatively simple, the complexity in practice is challenging-good formative assessments provide feedback, are motivating, allow for instructional adjustment, and are ongoing. That's a lot for any classroom teacher to do and to do well amidst the chaos of a room full of seventh graders during the month of May.

Digital formative assessment tools can help you motivate students to practice learning goals as a natural and ongoing part of their daily workflow.

Here are eight free tools to help you integrate technology into your classroom, motivate students to learn, collect some data, and reduce your Tylenol consumption bills during spring-or for that matter, throughout the school year! For step-by-step how-tos for integrating each of the different tools into your curriculum, visit

Tool 1: Padlet

Padlet ( is a virtual wall that students use to express their thoughts on a topic. In addition to written expression, you can embed audio and video and have students respond in the form of a threaded discussion. With password protection, you can use different padlets for different classes or groups of students.

For example, I have students define key terms and discuss areas of agreement and disagreement with what their peers have written.

Tool 2: Recap

Recap ( is a video-based formative assessment tool that allows you to pose a question, have students respond with a short video they've recorded on their cell phone, then provide them with feedback .

In the math classroom, have students explain how to solve a problem and then give them strategies they can use to improve their accuracy. Or if you are feeling a little daring, share the class videos and have students identify incorrect answers and analyze where the computations went wrong.

Tool 3: Today's Meet

Today's Meet ( is a type of "backchanneling." Backchanneling is a conversation that takes place alongside an activity or event. It's perfect for use in the classroom when you are showing a video and want to find out what the students are thinking. Simply show the class a video clip and have students respond to a question via their device; students can even pose questions to you as they are watching.

Use it in the science classroom as a way to track understanding during a lab procedure. For example, ask students what will happen before they add chemical A to chemical B.

Tool 4: Active Prompt

Active Prompt ( looks like a website from the early 1990s, but its power is amazing. Upload any image of your choosing and ask students a question about it. Students move a dot on their device to indicate their answer.

For example, in social studies, you might show a map of Africa and ask students where they think the Nile River is. In language arts, display a complex text and have students indicate where they found their textual evidence.

Tool 5: Google Forms/Sheets and Flubaroo

Flubaroo ( is a great plug-in for Google Sheets that will help you quickly score student quizzes. Design a Google Form, share the link to the form with students, and have them answer the questions. …

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