George Lucas Educational Foundation

I'm Looking for Formative Assessment Ideas for my 5th Grade Classroom

I'm Looking for Formative Assessment Ideas for my 5th Grade Classroom

More Related Discussions
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share

Hi, I am a 5th grade teacher in Grand Rapids, MN and am in search of new formative assessment techniques that I can implement in my classroom.

I currently use tools such as sticky notes, whiteboards, notecards, and daily assignments. What have you used that seems to be both motivating to your students and informative to you? How do you use the data found from this type of assessment?

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

Comments (15) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Ginny's picture
Founder and director of in puerto rico

Hi my name is Ginny and I am a new member in this group. At this moment in our democratic school in Puerto Rico we are looking to develop assesments that could be use to validate the work we do. Our school is based on the principles of democracy and non violent communication. We use a non coersive emergent curriculum and integrate PBL and an interdisciplinary multiple inteligence approach.

I am loong for ideas on creating evaluations that are holistic and friendly but that can be use to validate that kids are learning the academics(math, reading and writing)
Thanks in advance , ginny

Ashley's picture
3rd Grade Teacher

Hi everyone,
My name is Ashley, and I have been struggling with the use of formative assessments in order to help inform me on who needs extra help or what concepts I need to spend more time on. After reading the posts so far, I have come to realize that I do already use some formative assessments but that I need to get better at record keeping so I have that data readily available when I go to plan. And thank you Denise for that wonderful website of ideas! I am so currently struggling with formative assessments in reading.

Like Brenda, I also use the writing conference as a formative assessment. During writing, if my students have finished the assigned part of their story then they are allowed to free write in their writer's notebook. When I notice that a student has had some quality time to write, I will pull out their writer's notebook and do a quick assessment of what strategies they are using in their writing and what I need to work on them with. This, like the writing conference, can take time as well.

In math, I use a checklist as my record keeping. For example, if we are working on measuring to the nearest inch and 1/2 inch, I have these standards listed on my clipboard with each child's name. I put down the date at the top, and through teacher observation during the lesson I check off who can or cannot measure. Doing this consistently, I can see who has the skill on a consistent basis and who still needs help mastering this skill.

David Wees's picture
David Wees
Formative Assessment Specialist for New Visions for Public Schools

Hey Ryan,

My guess is you actually use some other formative assessments as well, and that if you improved your record keeping, they would be more useful as data.

For example, do you look at students working and think about what is working and what isn't? Have you checked out student's work and given them immediate feedback on how to improve? Both of these practices are examples of formative assessment, and if you record some of your observations, they could be useful as data to guide your instruction.

Can you think of other examples of "soft" formative assessment that you already do that you can use to guide your instruction?

jamelle's picture

I think formative assessments are one of the best ways to give you immidiate feedback on which students are struggling with which benchmarks. I feel that almost everything I do in my room is or could be considered a formative assessment. I don't always document my observations, which I should get better at, but these informal observations definitely tell me the direction I need to go with my instruction. I do many of the same activities as mentioned in other posts such as white boards, writer's conferences, reading conferences, worksheets and small group discussions. Many times the formative assessments measure more than one skill which is wonderful. For example when working on short vowel sounds and writing short vowel words, I am actually assessing handwriting at the same time. In our jam packed days, when you can kill two birds with one stone - I am all for that!! I love formative assessments and I feel they give so much more information than a summative assessment.

ahausauer's picture
fifth grade teacher from Fargo, North Dakota

I feel that we use formative assessments in our classroom more than we think we do. I too, like you listed, use whiteboards, notecards, and daily assignments. I also use what I call "exit notes." I have my students take out a sticky note from their desk and answer a question that typically sums-up what we have learned/discussed in the lesson. Students write their answer on the sticky note and then bring the sticky note to me before we "end" that subject. I sometimes even ask a random question to them such as "If you could be anyone in the world, who would you be and why" or I have them complete the sentence "I wonder..." These times of questions just allow me to get to know my students better. We also do some "think, pair share" type things. In the past I have written letters back to my students in their Writer's Notebook, which I know my students REALLY enjoyed. I stopped doing this solely because of the TIME that it took to do so. Any ideas on how to respond back to my students writing in their Writer's Notebook without it taking FOREVER to do so? I have trouble with feedback on writing. Time is such an issue at our school as we do lunch and recess duty, which elimates a prep-time to do things like that.

jamelle's picture

We do Writer's Workshop every day. I schedule conferences with each student in about a 2 week period. So I don't check everyone's work daily. They write a story about their lives, and when they finish they put it in their folder and start a new one. Each month, they choose one story to publish and that is the one we edit and work with. This was hard for me to get used to because I used to do journals and I would check them every day (usually at home at night). I loved reading what they wrote, but it was very time consuming. I switched to Writer's Workshop last year and loved it. The students love publishing their own books and they really believe they are authors. We do little mini lessons that help them add to their stories and they learn how to edit their own writing as well. I tell them that before they bring their work back to me they should have checked for capital letters and punctuation and missing words. It is kind of hard for the students at first because they are all so excited to read me what they wrote. It is hard for them to wait their turn to come back to the table with me. I taught 2nd grade last year and some amazing writers. It is pretty slow going with my first graders, but am excited to see the growth they will make this year. I can see it really being a big hit for your 5th graders. I also give them a fiction story starter on Fridays. They love this!! They have to have a main character that is not themselves, describe the setting, have at least one problem and a solution. We brainstorm ideas first and then I turn them loose. So much fun to see their imaginations!!!
Good luck

Randi's picture
1st grade teacher

I completely agree with you. I never realized how much formative assessment that I already do. I also do a lot of "think, pair, share". I never really thought of it as a formative assessment. Another teacher shared with me that she just has the students give her a thumbs up or down if they understand a concept. I recently started using the Daily 5/Cafe. This has really opened up time for me conference with students on different areas. I can pick what I want to talk to each of the students about and give them things to work on individually. I don't know if you have heard of this but it really is a good teaching technique. This is the only way I have found to open up time throughout my day to talk one on one and the other students are still busy learning independently.

farha's picture
i teach chemistry for 10th grade

Assessment --
i teach chemistry .I use different ways of assessment ,in the laboratory i assess them on the basis of the analysis result class room i assess in many ways .. after a unit is taught i keep sm questions ready to be displayed on the projector which the students answer . I even sm times ask them to write dowm 2 points understood well and two or more if not understood ,in this way i get a chance to clear doubts and even assess the childs learning.

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

In my work with teachers, I find that the heart of their struggles with assessment is connected to a lack of clarity around what the students are supposed to be demonstrating content-wise (as opposed to the medium used to learn that content), what the work is supposed to look like in its final form, and the "soft" skills that the students are supposed to be practicing while they're working. Once we get clarity on those items, the assessment puzzle comes together a bit more easily. Sometimes we use Quinn's Six Questions to help get that clarity, other times it's just about a conversation. Feel free to give me a holler at if you want more information about it. Good luck!

Rebecca Alber's picture
Rebecca Alber
Edutopia Consulting Editor

Take a look at the blog I wrote about this very subject: Why Formative Assessments Matter

Hope you find it helpful!


Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.