Formative assessment is the ongoing process of evaluating student learning. Unlike it’s formalized, standardized testing counterpart, formative assessments are not used for grading but are focused on providing students opportunities to monitor their own learning and self-assess one’s mastery of content and skills.

As a former special education teacher who didn’t rely on formal standardized testing data to determine student growth or achievement (because, really – what good was the CAASPP for except for making my poor kiddos cry?) – I used more formative assessment pieces in my planning and instruction to help me establish if my students were really getting the instruction I was presenting in class. It also showed me which concepts I should probably go back and reteach for student mastery.

And, because we were lucky to have 1:1 devices in the classroom, I was able to pull in some educational technology to help me gather valuable data on my students. Here are some of my favorite applications that I used when teaching SPED and that I continue to use now in my TOSA position with my TK-5th grade classrooms.

Padlet: Padlet is a web-based platform for creating online bulletin boards that allow teachers and students to share and collaborate, from any device. Users can post text, links, files, photos, and videos. I started using Padlet with my younger TK and Kindergarten students who weren’t logging into Google Classroom yet. Because the boards can be password protected (and private), students were able to collaborate through this online discussion board, much in the same way that they would have done in Google Classroom. The only caveat to this program? Under a free account, you are only able to create three padlets at a time.

Pear Deck: Pear Deck is a web-based formative assessment tool that allows you to create interactive lessons using Google Slides. Pear Deck offers a library of free templates that you can use to create interactive assessments in your slides, with everything from math templates to critical thinking questions to slides on social emotional learning – and more! Pear Deck has a paid and free version. Although I get by quite nicely with the free version, if you have the funds to pay for a subscription, I would highly recommend it. If you’re looking to try Pear Deck Premium, click here for 3-months of premium access!

Edpuzzle: Edpuzzle is a great tool that allows users to turn videos into quick assessments, through the use of strategically placed questions. It’s as simple as choosing a video from YouTube (or uploading your own), trimming the video, inserting a question anywhere and then tracking your students progress. Edpuzzle does offer a premium account but most educators I know (myself included) use the basic version.

Kahoot!: If your students love game-based learning (and, really – which kid doesn’t?), Kahoot! should be your go-to for free engaging quizzes that will get all of your students actively participating. While you can create your own quiz, Kahoot! also offers an extensive library of games. Students can play as individuals, groups, or pairs.

Flipgrid: If you haven’t gotten #FlipgridFever yet, now is the time! Flipgrid is a free site that allows students to post videos in response to questions and topics posed by their teacher. It also gives students an opportunity to reflect, collaborate, and receive and respond to constructive feedback offered by their peers.

Google Forms: Google Forms is a great tool for creating quizzes or forms to collect data from your students. Forms allows users to use a variety of question types (multiple choice, short answer, paragraph, check boxes, drop-down, linear scale, etc.) – along with the ability to upload pictures and videos for students to view and answer questions on. I use Forms throughout the school year, across subject areas and is a quick and easy way of collecting information from your students.

Quizlet/Quizziz: Both Quizlet and Quizziz are web-based platforms that allow students an alternative to the traditional methods of studying new vocabulary terms. While I have used both platforms (and both are reputable, in my opinion), I will say that Quizziz has some perks that Quizlet currently does not offer. First, Quizziz makes it easy for me to important classes from Google Classroom. I also appreciate that Quizziz offers me data on my students after each quiz – making it a bit easier for me to determine who needs some additional help with certain topics.

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