Alternative Formative Assessment Strategies (#AFAS)

When people talk about Formative Assessment Strategies several things immediately come to mind: whiteboards, class discussions, exit tickets, and etc.

We all know that Formative Assessmentcis important, in fact, according to one Edutopia article, 250 empirical studies have shown that “formative assessment is an essential component of classroom work and can raise student achievement” (Phi Delta Kappan September 2010 92: 8190).

I am in agreement that formative assessment needs to be used, but the problem that I personally run into is the engagement factor. At our school, I am the technology teacher and tech integration coach. With this in mind, I tend to be a bit biased towards tech tools and love that I can easily get kids engaged by using them. I am not saying that whiteboards can’t be fun, but I am saying that I don’t think that they are truly preparing our students to be active learners in their future. Even now, when I attend conferences, I am actively participating in the conference via twitter, Today’s Meet, and many other tools. By doing so I am collaborating with my peers, talking through ideas, and evaluating my own understanding of a topic.

One way to help with the engagement factor, and to help our students become active learners is to use Alternative Formative Assessment Strategies. These are things that are outside of the traditional teaching methods that actively engage learners while still demonstrating that they are learning/understanding the concepts being taught.  These are things like games, polls, collaborative note taking, quick answer scans, Twitter, blogs, Instagram and more.

Below are several of my favorite #AFAS: is seriously one of my all time favorite educational games. It puts kids in a scenario where the decisions they make can change and determine the outcome of the game. After playing a round of Mission-US, we had students running around on the playground yelling about being a Patriot/Loyalist and reliving and acting out the scenarios from the game/history. If that’s not engagement I’m not sure what it.

Another tool that I love to use is called Plickers. Plickers allows me to create questions and polls to ask the class. I then put the question up on the screen via their “Live Feed” tool and then scan a set of free cards (similar to QR codes) with an app on my phone. The app tabulates the results and the results appear on the screen in real time. I can then see which students got the answers right and wrong directly on my phone and can choose to either show/not show correct/incorrect answers of individual students or of the class graphed answers.

Another tool that I love to use that quickly gets the kids attention is called Kahoot. Similar to trivia games that are often found in restaurants, teachers create multiple-choice or T/F questions that are displayed on the screen. Students are given a moment to look at the question and then a timed portion to answer the question via their computers/phones/tablets.  Once all students have answered or the time is up, the correct answer will flash on the screen and the students will be given points for correct answers. The quicker they answer, the more points they could get. It is addicting and the leader board flashes across the screen after each question. I have a small stash of prizes that I sometimes hand out to the winners.

What are some tools that you use for #AFAS?

What are some tools that you wish were developed?

How do you get students involved with finding/creating/using #AFAS?



@TeacherTabitha is a Tech Teacher and Tech Coach at a Private School in Houston, TX. She enjoys playing games with her students, sitting on patios with her husband and puppy, cooking, and connecting with other educators. You can follow her on Twitter @TeacherTabitha


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