16+ Formative Assessment Tools for #RemoteLearning!

Title Image for Post. Reads: 16+ Formative Assessment Tools for #RemoteLearning and includes the URL for the post.Wow. March 2020 has been quite a month. And buckle up, folks, because it looks like April is going to be more of the same.

For many educators, that means screencasts of lessons, assignments in learning management systems, and lots of time on Zoom or Google Meet.

But what about Formative Assessment? If we’re going to teach new content during these extended school closures caused by the coronavirus and COVID-19 (I’m not sure if we should, but that’s another post) then we need to know if students are comprehending that new content!

So, I put that question out to the Duct Tapers (listeners to my podcast, the Educational Duct Tape Podcast). I got a handful of answers, which I featured in Episode 39b of the podcast.

A week later, I reached out for even more ideas! On Wednesday 3.25.2020, I hosted a #EduDuctTape Twitter chat focused on this and 2 other #RemoteLearning concepts. So, based on the thoughts shared in the episode and the ideas shared in the Twitter chat, I’ve got a BUNCH to share with you! So let’s dig into it!

Quizizz

Let’s start off this post the same way that we started off the in-episode sharing! Allison Curry suggests that we use Quizizz and I think it’s a great idea!

Quizizz is all multiple choice which means that, although you don’t always get the richest data, you get data quickly, automagically, and painlessly.

Check out Allison, on the show, explaining why she suggests Quizizz:

My favorite part of Allison’s answer, as you can see from my tweet below, was the teacher-created memes. What a great way to add an extra piece of connection and fun during #RemoteLearning!

I liked Allison’s idea so much, that I made an #EduGIF about it! You can learn all about this process in this post.

This animated GIF shows the process for adding teacher-created memes in Quizizz.
A Pausable version of this #EduGIF is available at youtube.com/watch?v=DfJTiE4Zyec

Allison and I were fortunate to have Chelsea Hurst around to refocus our attention from the memes and onto the most important part of formative assessment: the data!

Google Forms

Tried and true Google Forms! Why not? And if you use Quiz mode or use Flubaroo to grade them, you can get some great formative assessment data, too! One big benefit of Google Forms is the variety of question types! Rather than multiple choice only, like in Quizizz, you can ask short answer, extended response, multiple select (checkboxes), linear scale, and more!

On the podcast, Matt Meyer shared about Google Forms, along with a few other tools. Check out what he had to say about Forms in this excerpt:

Nearpod

Angela’s right, Nearpod is awesome. In the typical usage scenario, it’s built into a lesson being delivered live in-class. However, during these school closures, teachers can take advantage of the temporarily free Gold accounts to run Nearpod activities as asynchronous lessons!

And the question types!!! Drawing questions, open-ended questions, multiple-choice questions, true or false questions, polls, drag-and-drop fill-in-the-blank activities, matching pairs activities (match a picture to text), and memory tests. Angela even shared a little tidbit that I was previously unaware of: in open-ended questions students can now respond with audio!

And the data!!! NearPod provides some rich data in the teacher view and, in the (currently free) Gold accounts, you can see the data as it happens. One last bonus: unlike NearPod’s primary competitor (and another tool that I love), Pear Deck, the multiple-choice questions and true or false questions can be auto-graded.

Pear Deck

I’m contractually-obligated (not really) to always mention NearPod and Pear Deck together and show everyone that I love them equally. They’re both awesome, they’re both relatively similar, and they’re both fantastic for formative assessments!

Like NearPod, Pear Deck’s typical use is for live, in-class lessons, but they also have great asynchronous features. It seems appropriate that I should compare a few features where Pear Deck beats NearPod out, and vice versa.

Pear Deck = 🏆

NearPod = 🏆

Stacey Roshan, author of Tech With Heart, shared about how she’s using Pear Deck synchronously during #RemoteLearning. Check it out in this excerpt from the show:

Desmos

If you’re a math teacher and you’re not using Desmos, drop everything right now and go try it out. Seriously. Leave my webpage. I don’t even care. It’s that good.

I already knew it was awesome, but Mandi had a little surprise for me! I didn’t know that there was a new written feedback option available! Check it out here.

EdPuzzle

If you’re using videos during #RemoteLearning, you NEED to start using EdPuzzle. And not just because my buddy Dan says so: do it because you can add multiple-choice questions and open-ended questions into the videos.  Do it because students won’t be able to watch the rest of the video until they answer the question.  Do it because it’ll auto-grade the multiple-choice questions. And, yes, do it because Dan says so.

Molly Klodor shared on the podcast how she is planning on using EdPuzzle in her high school language arts classes. You can hear all about it in this video:

Seesaw

I ❤️ Seesaw. It’s such a great tool. It’s like a digital portfolio, learning management system, and parent communication system all rolled up into one. And that’s not all! When students share their work–as text, drawings, images, videos, audio, and more!–we can totally use it for formative assessment!

I should point out that, especially with younger kiddos, it’s not a great idea to start using a new tech tool during school closures, especially not one with as many features as Seesaw. So, if you’re not already using it, you may want to tread lightly with considering using it now.

Screencastify

Sometimes the key part to formative assessment isn’t the grading of the right and wrong answers; it’s the feedback. And Matt makes a great point: why not use your free Screencastify account (or any of the other screencasting tools) to give kids rich, personalized feedback? We know that the students would love to see their teacher’s face and hear their teacher’s voice!

Matt shared a little more on the podcast about how he plans to use Screencastify with his students. Check it out in this video:

Quizalize

Because I’m the host of the Twitter chat, I got to break the rules and name two different tools.  The first one that I mentioned was Quizalize.

If you were knew to Quizalize, you’d probably think it was pretty similar to Quizizz: students answer multiple-choice questions synchronously or asynchronously in a game-like format where correct answers earn points. As is important with formative assessment tools, this process gives the teacher some actionable data.  That all sounds just like Quizizz, but there are some features that set it apart from other tools.

First, its Mastery Dashboard provides a really great visualization of data. You can see each student’s pursuit of mastery standard-by-standard. You can also see that data for the entire class, so that you can identify standards to revisit or focus on.

Since differentiation is a key part of instruction, Quizalize has it built right into the tool! When you assign a quiz, you can identify 3 different next steps to automatically assign to students based on their scores! You could use a variety or resources in those differentiated next steps including videos from YouTube, pdfs or pretty much anything on the web. Quizalize even suggests some remedial or enrichment resources and tells you how well those resources have performed in other classes.

Add to those 2 awesome features the ability to include mp3 audio files in your question prompt and their Mastery Mode setting and you’re probably wondering “Why isn’t everyone talking about this tool!?” Well, the answer is probably their pricing. While there is a free version available, if you want to use it more than 5 times in one class or for more than 3 classes, you’ll need to pay to upgrade. The cost seems fair though and if you want standards-based mastery tracking and automated differentiation, it might just be worth it.

Formative

The second tool that I mentioned in my response was Formative (sometimes called “Go Formative” because it’s their web address and social media handle).

Formative has a nice variety of question types–multiple choice, true or false, multiple selection, short answer, essay, and Show Your Work (students use drawings, text or images to explain an answer)–and there are even more in their paid version, which is currently free during the school closures. Those “typically-premium” question types are matching, categorize (drag and drop), resequence, audio response, numeric responses (including math typing), and Desmos graphing calculator question.

If you opt to use Formative, though, your decision will likely be based more on the data that you get out of it. You can see live student responses allowing you to support confused students, but the best feature is the data that you get after the assessment.  You can view that data question-by-question, student-by-student, or standard-by-standard (if you attached standards).  How awesome would it be to know which standards each student in your room has or has not mastered!  It’s especially perfect for remote learning.  In the free plan you can only see the last 2 weeks of data in the progress tracker, but you access older data as a spreadsheet. Again, though, during the coronavirus school closures, you can access that paid feature for free!

Jonathan Greer shared about Formative on the podcast. Hear what he had to say in this video:

Padlet

Since I got to name 2 tools, I guess that Rich gets to as well. 😄 One of those tools is Padlet.

Padlet provides teachers with 8 different “padlet” types that they can create for students to post on. The options are wall, canvas, stream, grid, shelf, backchannel, map, and timeline.  Each has a different format–you can see them in the screenshot below Rich’s tweet–and different use cases.

Rich is using them to have students post facts that they’ve learned. Padlet won’t do any auto-grading or data-representing for you, but it’s a good way to collect a lot of information from your students!

This image shows the 8 different types of Padlets: Wall, Canvas, Stream, Grid, Shelf, Backchannel, Map, Timeline
Screenshot of the types of padlets that you can create. From padlet.com

Flipgrid

Rich’s other answer from above is also one of Jamie’s answers below: Flipgrid. What can it not do!? While there probably are a few things it can’t do (I’m still waiting for an edtech tool that will also get my kids to brush their teeth without a fight), I mention Flipgrid often on the podcast, on Twitter, and on this website. That’s because it’s one of those tools that can be used in many ways – including formative assessment!

Actually, if you go back to the roots of Flipgrid, it’s likely that you’ll hear that formative assessment was one of the major initial goals. At its very base, Flipgrid is a tool that empowers teachers to hear from each of their students via video.

Not only can teachers hear and see students’ responses to a prompt, but they can also provide them with video or text feedback, score them on a rubric (provided or teacher-created), and give their response a Vibe which is a fun way for the teacher to draw attention to a key aspect of a response. Teachers and students can also catalog and even curate these responses to show growth over time. And, as Flipgrid continues to improve, the potential for student responses continues to grow. Students can now write, type, or add pictures to a whiteboard (or blackboard) screen to enhance what they’re able to show you. They can include links to other resources. The possibilities continue to grow!

As a formative assessment tool, Flipgrid’s biggest downside is time. Even with the ability to speed up videos or watch them from your phone, watching a video from every student could take a boatload of time. However, many teachers believe it to be worth that time and it’s hard to argue with them! (Seriously, you don’t want to argue with someone who has #FlipgridFever, these people love their Flipgrid!) And I wouldn’t want to argue with them anyhow, when we’re all separated from our students, spending time watching videos from each of them is a great idea!

BrainPop

Jaime mentioned a few tools that we’ve already covered, but she threw in another as well: BrainPop. When Jaime was on the podcast in March 2019, I was surprised by her suggestion of BrainPop for formative assessment. I had always thought it was just a site for great animated instructional videos with a boy (Tim) and his robot (Moby). But I was mistaken! As Jaime shared with me, BrainPop has other features like quizzes and games that build in opportuities for formative assessment!

iReady

In his tweet below, Dr. Lance McClard mentions a bunch of different tools. We discussed most of them earlier in this post, but let’s look at the other ones.

The first, iReady, is a tool that’s typically implemented on a larger scale across an entire school or district. With iReady, students take a math and/or reading pre-assessment and are then assigned instruction based on their performance. It gives teachers lots of actionable data, groups students, and differentiates assignments for students.  It can also be a great tool for monitoring growth throughout a school year.

Since iReady does not have a free version, doesn’t work in all classrooms (math and reading only) and is only used on a larger scale (the minimum purchase is 150 student licenses), I won’t dive any deeper into the details here. If you have it, though, it could certainly be a valuable tool during #RemoteLearning.

Edulastic

Lance also mentioned Edulastic. Edulastic leverages a familiar format–it looks a lot like online standardized assessments–along with a lot of question types. They have drag-and-drop questions (lots of formats!), coordinate plane questions (students plot points or graphs!), line plots (students plot X’s!), fraction input questions and other math formatting in their answers, and fraction diagram shading questions (students actually color in the sections!). Wow, that’s quite a few math question types, isn’t it? Well, there are question types that work great in other classes as well: sets of multiple-choice questions in a table, multiple select questions, diagram-labeling questions, questions with images, videos or audio, and more! They even have standards-aligned questions that are available for you to put in your assessments.

If all of that doesn’t sell you on Edulastic, the data might. You can see the data live and also see rich, standards-aligned data afterwards. It could be great for standards-based grading as well as item-analysis, mastery-based grading, identifying students who need support, creating student mastery profiles that can be useful in parent-teacher conferences, and even breaking down assessment data based on a variety of factors or subgroups. While some of these features are part of the premium plan, Edulastic is currently offering many of their premium features for free.

Edulastic goes much deeper than some of the other tools we’ve covered. That’s not a bad thing! It’s also not necessarily a good thing. It all depends on what you need! If you need quick, easy, multiple-choice formative assessments that students enjoy, Edulastic may not be for you.  If you need to use one tool all year–or during an extended closure–to track student mastery, Edulastic probably is or you.

We’ve already heard from Matt Meyer a few times in this post, but here he is, one last time, telling us about Edulastic:

Google Slides

A tool doesn’t have to have auto-grading or data-collecting features to be good for formative assessment. It just has to WORK for YOU. And, for some of us, Google Slides is a fantastic option. Don’t believe me? Check out Lauren’s links in the tweet below. 🔥

Almost Anything can be a Formative Assessment!

While the 16 tools above are great for formative assessment, it’s important to note that making an assessment formative is typically based on what the teacher does with the assessment results. And, since it’s based on the teacher’s actions, it means that anything that the teacher can assess can be formative. So start by clearly defining your goal for your formative assessments (what kind of data? what kind of questions? how often? what content? etc.) and then determining what kind of tool that you need.  It might be one of these 16 . . . or it might be a totally different tool or strategy!

What are you using? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!!

Published by

Jake Miller

Jake is the host of the Educational Duct Tape podcast, the #EduGIF Guy, a Tech Integration Coach, speaker, Former STEM, Math & Science Teacher, and a presenter.

2 thoughts on “16+ Formative Assessment Tools for #RemoteLearning!”

  1. Terrific list – I really need to revisit edpuzzle!

    I’d add Knowledgehook to this list. Most features are free, it supports synchronous activities (game shows), asynchronous activities (missions), and gives teachers really great data to work with. Plus they’re Canadian which is a big bonus for me!

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