George Lucas Educational Foundation

How can we use formative assessments in Math?

How can we use formative assessments in Math?

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I am a second grade teacher in ND. My favorite subject to teach is Math but I am not a traditional teacher in that I don't like going page by page through the textbook. In Math, we generally use summative assessments to test understanding. Is there a way to incorporate formative assessments, or project based products to show deep understanding from my students?

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Ellen Francis's picture
Ellen Francis
High school geometry teacher

I find almost all assessments can be formative. Once students are given an assessment I look to see either where most of the class is struggling or where individuals have weaknesses. Then I re-teach those concepts. I allow students the opportunity to either correct mistakes they made on the assessment or re-take parts of the assessment. I have found students are eager to correct mistakes. They welcome the opportunity to have this positively impact their grades. Second graders probably won't understand the impact on grading, but at least students have an opportunity to better understand the concept being taught.

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

One immediate thing you can do, is to buy some of those whiteboards and whiteboard markers. You can buy the whiteboard material itself, and cut it to the size & shape you need for far less than buying the whiteboards from Staples.

I've used these myself in mathematics class, and they are a fabulous way to reduce the anxiety in making mistakes that students often have. As the students work in groups on solving problems, they will write, erase, draw, and collaborate. The work on the whiteboards is entirely formative, and you can go around the room keeping track of what kinds of misconceptions the students are encountering as they problem solve, and ask questions to push their thinking.

Ken Cornett's picture
Ken Cornett
Retired: Grades 4 to 12, specializing in curriculum development

Get the free Addition program download, at There are 270 pages of instructions for the teacher and parents, 90+ lessons, 28 audio files and flash card designs. The program is designed for students to advance from success to success. Check it out. Email help is available if needed

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