Different Forms of Formative Assessment in Lesson Plans

Varying types of formative assessment allows teachers to get a better understanding of what their students are retaining in class.
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When creating lesson plans, it's important to begin with the end in mind. This means determining what students should know at the end of the lesson. These learning goals or objectives guide your creation of summative as well as formative assessments. A summative assessment concludes a unit of study to assess students’ understanding as a whole. Formative assessments allow teachers to chart student progress at the beginning and throughout the unit of study.

1 Observation

Basic teacher observation is an effective formative assessment tool for monitoring in-class behavior as a means of assessment. For example, if you teach a lesson on poetry and have students get into groups to respond to a set of discussion questions, you can use the discussion questions as a formative assessment or you can simply go from group to group and make notes on each student’s level of interaction. The teacher observes the students' behavior in a group setting to assess their content knowledge.

2 Ticket In or Out the Door

A “Ticket In the Door” or “Ticket Out the Door” is a strategy for assessing student knowledge on a day-to-day basis, using index cards or small slips of paper. Tickets In the Door require students to respond to a few questions as soon as they walk in the door. Tickets Out the Door require students to respond on their way out, as a way of summing up the day’s lesson and checking for understanding. There are several varieties of this method, for example the 3-2-1 method. This method asks students to list three things they learned from the day’s lesson, two interesting things and one question they still have. The 3-2-1 method can be used in any way you want, depending on the lesson and content.

3 Reflection

Peer-assessment and self-assessment techniques allow students to engage in their learning and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses. By understanding the learning process, students can take control of their own learning. Self-assessment techniques, which can include goal setting, portfolios or guided practice with assessment tools, can help students become independent learners while also showing the teacher how they are retaining the information. Peer-assessments can assess students in two ways: by their performance in evaluating peers and their performance in evaluating their own understanding against their peers.

4 Using Learning Styles

One way of choosing different types of formative assessment is to use the concept of learning styles. Typically learners are categorized as either visual, auditory or tactile learners. Each learner has strengths and weaknesses and varying formative assessment techniques ensures that all learners’ styles are reached at least once. By varying the type of assessment you use, you can gain a more accurate picture of what students understand and know. For example, if you typically assess students by using written responses, try using graphic organizers or an activity that has students up and interacting with one another. It may not be that a particular student does not understand a concept, but rather their learning style is not being met.

Alyssa Sellors has been in the field of education for five years, teaching English and journalism at the high school level. In addition to teaching, she has also advised the school newspaper and currently advises the yearbook. As a yearbook adviser, she speaks at national conventions hosted by Journalism Educator’s Association and the National Scholastic Press Association.