Formative (ungraded) assessments may vary in style, but they always share the same, important goals: gather data on student progress and develop an understanding about what students know. As you plan your formative assessments for the new school year, it’s important to also consider implementing a variety of brain-based learning (BBL) techniques in order to most effectively engage students’ brains.
Check out this list of formative assessment BBL best practices to get started!
1) Use a variety of learning styles
There isn’t one right way to learn, so formative assessments should give students plenty of options to show what they know. Here are some examples of multi-modal formative assessments:
- Have students act out the path taken by the blood through the circulatory system (Science)
- Have students write journal entries while pretending to be a Revolutionary War soldier and explain the battle’s reasons and consequences (History)
- Set up the classroom as a coordinate grid system, then play “I Spy” using coordinates (Math)
2) Keep it interesting
The more creative assessments are the more likely students will remember the content. Music improves memory and it’s fun, so ask students to write a rap about the parts of speech (ELA), or, like in this awesome student video, a song about fractions (Math).
3) Provide quick feedback
Feedback on formative assessments doesn’t need to be time consuming. During assessment activities, circle the room and provide feedback on the spot, or schedule short interviews with students to discuss their progress and put them on the right track.
4) Promote a safe, engaging learning environment
When students are comfortable with their peers and their teacher, they are more receptive to learning, less hesitant to demonstrate understanding, and more engaged. You can help by modeling respectful behavior with your students at all times and establishing classroom rules and guidelines that create a fair, supportive classroom environment.
5) Feed and water your students’ brains
Well-fed kids learn more than hungry ones. Our brains use at least 20% of the energy we ingest, so making sure your students are well nourished is a necessity. For some great tips about the best brain foods for your students, click here.
As we saw in our last post, formative assessments are a great way to promote brain-based learning by providing ungraded checks of student understanding. We will now look at how to… Read more »Read More about How to Collect and Share Student Data from Formative Assessments
6) Match your formative and summative assessments
Summative assessments are intimidating, so give your students practice during your low-risk formative assessments. Here are some examples:
- Have students stand up beside their desk (instead of remaining seated) to respond to a question if they will be assessed by speeches or presentations
- Ask students to correct grammar in a Word document if they will be assessed digitally in ELA
- Use compare-contrast charts in science instead of Venn diagrams, which are rarely used on summative assessments
Now that you are in the know about BBL formative assessments, next week we will look at what to do with the data from formative assessments—a question we hear many teachers asking.
To learn more about formative assessments, check out our course, Better Teaching and Learning with Formative Assessment.