Working Smarter with Formative Assessment

Sue Kientz, GPAEA Technology Coach

Teacher Smiling and Helping Students With SchoolworkWhat do I need to do to help each student learn what is needed?  How do I know if each student “gets it?”  How can I do I find the time to do this?  These are questions educators often ask themselves. Formative assessment is one way to accomplish knowing what each student has learned and what help is needed.  Formative assessment does not need to take up valuable instructional and teacher time if some of the newer tools available through technology are used.  Tools available to teachers are of two main types: Online tools and Learner Response Devices.

Online Tools include Web 2.0 tools such as Poll Everywhere, Socrative and Naiku Quick Question.  All of these tools are free to educators of K-12 schools at the present time.  Below you will see a chart comparing these 3 tools:

Web 2.0 Formative Assessment Tool *

Poll  Everywhere




Naiku Quick Question

Web Address
Tagline “The fastest way to create stylish real-time experiences for events using mobile devices.” – “Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.” – Use Naiku’s Quick Question to poll your students and get immediate feedback – simply ask a question, and students respond using any web enabled device, such as a smartphone, tablet, netbook, or laptop.  Similar to a student response system (‘clicker’) without the need for proprietary hardware!
Pricing Free for up to 40 votes at one time Free (for now)
(Product is limited to 50 participants at once)
Promises to always be free to K-12 education
Ways to respond
(Students will need devices that connect to the Internet)
Text, smartphone (follow-along and keyword entry), web, iPad, Twitter, widget iPhone app (wrapper), Android app (wrapper), web Any device with web access
Types of questions Yes/No, True/False, Multiple choice, Text
Questions can be saved and used again.
True/False, Multiple Choice, Text, quizzes, exit ticket, space race
Quizzes can be created, saved and edit.
Yes/No, True/False, Multi-choice (a-e), text and exit tag
Questions cannot be saved
Results display Through projections system connected to teacher computer Through projections system connected to teacher computer Results are displayed to student devices by teacher command  (no need for a projection system)
Self scoring No, no individual results available. Yes, when using quiz function No, but you can see individual results

There are many more formative assessment tools available through the web such as Top Hat Monocle,, ClickerSchool, Text The Mob, and Shakespeak.  If you would like to compare these tools, you may go to this web address:

Another online tool to check out is Infuse Learning at  This resource has many of the same features as Socrative but includes the ability to add images to questions and audio.

All of these Web 2.0 tools take some time to learn how to use and require Internet access on both teacher and student devices.  Poll Everywhere and Quick Question take the least amount of time to learn how to use but also have the fewest features.  Socrative takes a little longer to master but offers the most time saving benefits to teachers since it can “grade” quizzes if multiple choice or true/false questions are used.  All of these web tools have directions to get you started.  They do all require you to register for a free account in order to use them.

Google Forms is another online tool that can be used for formative assessments.  If students already have Google accounts, this may be one of the easiest tools to use.  For more information on using Google forms, you can use Atomic Learning or the help document from Google at:

Learner Response Devices include devices available from Interactive Whiteboard producers such as ActivExpressions from Promethean and Smart Response from SmartBoard.  These devices work with the software provided with the Interactive Whiteboard and become a seamless way to collect information about student learning while working through lessons presented with the interactive whiteboard.  These devices can be used any time the whiteboard software is active, even if a Promethean flipchart or a Smart notebook lesson is not being used.  Other learner response devices are available that work independently of any other software where interactive whiteboards are not being used.  Several companies make these devices available through the AEA Co-Op Online Catalog.

While it takes time to set up and learn how to use any of these devices or online tools, once this has been accomplished the rewards are great.  Charts and graphs of student responses can be viewed immediately in addition to the information being saved in spreadsheets for later evaluation.  Teacher can make instructional decisions on the fly or later after reflection on the data collected.  Research about the use of interactive whiteboards has shown that immediate feedback to the students improved student achievement scores.

“Formative assessment is a potentially powerful instructional process because the practice of sharing assessment information that supports learning is embedded into the instructional process by design. If the potential of formative assessment is to be realized, it must transform from a collection of abstract theories and research methodologies and become a creative and systematic classroom practice.”  This quote is taken from an article in  The Canadian Journal of Education written by Ian Clark in the October 2012 issue.  Using the Learner Response devices available with Interactive Whiteboard software or using Web 2.0 online tools can make this happen in your classroom.  If you would like additional assistance with any of these tools, please contact me by email at

Works Cited
Clark, Ian. “Formative Assessment: A Systematic and Artistic Process of Instruction for

Supporting School and Lifelong Learning.” Canadian Journal of Education Oct. 2012: 24-40. ERIC. Web. 08 Jan. 2013.

Marzano, Robert J. “Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards.” Educational Leadership Nov. 2009:80-82. Educational Leadership. ASCD. Web. 08 Jan. 2013.

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