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Re-imagining Formative Assessment with Digital Tools

Educators are always looking for innovative ways to gather feedback from their students. A quick internet search will turn up a multitude of ways of checking in with our learners - from quizzes and hands-up games, to traffic lighting and post-it notes. Formative Assessment is often thought of as an ambiguous term, but put simply, it is a mode of assessment that encourages teachers to engage with students, observe and assess them on a continuous basis. Arguably, it's most important function for teachers is that it challenges us to continually check in with students not merely to determine how well they are performing, but to provide information that enables us, as educators, to make adjustments to our lesson, inform our practice and to adapt our teaching strategies in response to feedback from the students.

According to the OECD, Formative Assessment - when used correctly, can promote higher levels of student achievement, greater equity of student outcomes, and improve students' learning to learn skills. In particular, we can use it to help students develop skills that support their own learning learning to learn skills by:

  • Placing emphasis on the process of teaching and learning

  • Actively involving students in that process, and

  • Building students’ skills for peer- and self-assessment

In this blog post Marija Petreska explores how a digital tool like Flipgrid, can be used with four tried and tested Formative Assessment strategies to support students in developing their learning to learn skills, and provide invaluable feedback to educators for planning future lessons.

Formative Assessment Activity 1: Triangle-Square-Circle

Original Idea

The original idea invites students to first draw a triangle and write down the three key ideas of the lesson. Next, they draw a square and write down which idea squares (or aligns with) with their thinking. Finally, they draw a circle and write down something that is still circling their mind -a question that still puzzles them. This can be used as a closing activity, or an exit ticket and is used as a formative assessment of students' understanding of the lesson

How can I Re-imagine this activity with Flipgrid?

This is a simple assessment format to recreate in Flipgrid. All you need to do is to create a Grid with three different Topics. As you can see from the example grid below, the first Topic is on the Three Key Ideas of the Lesson (the Triangle), the second Topic is 'Squares with my Thinking (Square), and the third Topic, 'Questions Still Circling' (Circle)

For each Topic you'll need to create a Topic Name, and you will have an option to select a Topic Image. These provide incredibly useful signposting for students, so it is worth taking time to think about your Topic Name (especially since it can only be 35 characters long), and selecting images that are reflective of the activity. In the example shown in Figure 1, we opted for the Topic Name of '3 Key Ideas', to provide very clear signposting to students. We also added a helpful description 'Share three key ideas from today's lesson' to help students understand what this Topic was asking of them.

What are the benefits of re-imagining this activity in Flipgrid?

The best thing about using Flipgrid with any formative assessment activity is the ability to duplicate the Grid and use it over and over again. When you are duplicating the grid make sure you only keep the structure (the topics) and not the responses and comments. If you allow student-to-student replies, students will be able to help each other with the question that is 'Circling their Mind'. They can also debate on the three key ideas of the lesson. If you use OneNote, you can also embed single videos from the Grid topics into OneNote Class Notebook to create a Students Development Portfolio.

Extend the Learning

You can extend the learning here, by using the video responses to the 'Question Circling in My Mind'' Topic with Flipgrid's Mixtape feature. This feature allows you, the teacher, to hand pick a selection of the responses that you wish the class to see, and creates a video gallery. This kind of feature aligns well with the principles of Formative Assessment because the Mixtape of questions actually allows the gaps in student knowledge to become visible to you the teacher, enabling you to adjust your lesson planning to account for this. Furthermore, it allows the feedback from the students themselves to guide the next phase of teaching and learning, and creates opportunities peer-to-peer teaching, when students pair up, and undertake research to answer each other's questions. Read more on how to create Mixtapes.

Watch Marija's video below on using Flipgrid to re-imagine this activity, where she walks us through some simple steps to get started, and provides us with some pro-tips for using Flipgrid.

More on Formative Assessment with Digital Tools

This blog has been created as part of our series of Re-imagining Formative Assessment with Digital Tools. Each week this month, we'll be releasing a formative assessment activity, re-imagined with Flipgrid along with a hints and tips video from Marija. Look out for the releases on Twitter and Facebook.


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