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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Part 3 in our Paperless Series: Apps for Formative Assessment

Part 3 in our Paperless series:  #formative: Providing feedback without paper

When we think about assessment, we often think of it at the end of the learning process. Once the assessment is over, we move on - to the next unit of study.  But here we can miss a vital part of the educational puzzle.  Formative assessment can be used to:

  • provide a snapshot of student learning 
  • guide and adjust instruction
  • check for understanding
  • provide feedback on individual student progress

Technology has provided teachers and students with new ways to do formative assessments.  Today, we will focus on 3 apps that fit into the criteria I like to use when learning new tech tools: Quick, Effective, and Simple.

Any app can do old-school multiple choice testing, but with Formative students can:
  • provide short answer responses
  • embed videos with Youtube
  • upload images
  • draw & upload sketches from touchscreen devices
With Formative, students can receive very quick feedback on their tests. Teachers can individually address students to provide additional suggestions.  Also, teachers are able to view answers and data in a variety of ways including analyzing how students performed on a single question, to looking at a summary for an entire class or group of students.  If you are just getting started with Formative, be sure to check out their Library of Formative Assessments where you can find pre-made assessments on every subject.

Two important things about
  • video submission
  • on-the-spot self-assessment
One thing that makes Recap so unique is that the student responses are recorded in video format rather than through multiple choice or short answer options.  The teacher creates a Recap assignment with one or more questions.  The students log in to their Recap account and find the assignments waiting for them.  After reading the question, they are given the time designated by the teacher record a response.  Once students record their answer, they submit the video and are immediately asked to rate themselves on their level of knowledge.  This self-rate response can be a powerful tool for teachers, showing whether the student has any misconceptions about their own knowledge.  Teachers are able to view the completed videos and comment back and forth with the students over their response.  I have used comments to extend learning or reteach concepts.  Moreover, I love being able to watch my students work through their thought processes on video, which often allows me to specifically pinpoint where they struggled to grasp the concept.

"The online version of the Sticky Note!"

Every teacher (and most students) I know love sticky notes.  There is something so satisfying about jotting down a thought or idea and sticking it in a spot that is visible and eye catching.  However, I have 160 students and providing each student with one or more sticky notes can become expensive and impractical.  Padlet has created the online version of the sticky note.  Such a simple way to go paperless!  Teachers can create a Padlet very quickly with a guiding question or thought at the top of the page.  Students are asked to create a virtual sticky note with their response and students can also comment on virtual notes already posted to the wall.  One of my favorite ways to use Padlet is for virtual gallery walks.  Before Padlet, creating gallery walks in my class required large amounts of paper, but I always justified the use since the walks were so beneficial as a method of formative assessment.  Now I am able to do these same assignments without paper and students can contribute from home as well.


Formative assessment is an integral part of student achievement and teacher development.  It can also be done quickly and without the use of notecards, sticky notes, or quizzes printed on paper.  Going paperless with formative assessment is one of the easiest ways to transition your classroom into a virtually paperless environment.  Gone are the days where you have to drag home a pile of papers to shuffle through at night; now, every answer can be seen with the touch of a button.  

Helpful Tip: Following these apps on Twitter is another great place to find the most up-to-date info  they have to offer.  

Contributor: Heather Klos

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