8 informal assessments to pinpoint what your students need

Here are 8 great ways to gauge students’ understanding during the learning process instead of after

The great thing about informal assessments is they help us gauge students’ understanding during the learning process instead of after. Informal assessment also changes teachers’ relationship to student learning.

Through informal assessment, a teacher becomes a guide throughout the learning process, rather than the judge of the student’s final product. While committing to formative—or informal—assessment school-wide can be a game-changer for your learners, it’s also important to understand that regularly checking in with student learning can dramatically improve outcomes.

Teachers are already stretched when it comes to classroom management and covering all the required content. To make it easier for them, look for informal assessment practices that fit into the life of the classroom and result in data that’s easy for teachers to track and follow through on.

Here are eight everyday informal assessment practices to get you started.

1. Exit slips
Get kids in the habit of knowing they will be expected to fill out exit slips that follow the same format every time. This helps students know what they need to be thinking about as they are learning. Here are sample questions you can ask:

  • 3 things I learned today
  • 2 things I found interesting
  • 1 question I still have

2. Kahoot!
Kahoot! is a platform where teachers create quizzes, discussions, and surveys. Kahoot! is displayed via a TV or projector, and students enter the game pin to play from their mobile phone or other device. One of the best features is that it collates data for teachers in a downloadable spreadsheet, where they can see if students are struggling with anything in particular.

3. Backchannel chat
A backchannel is a digital conversation that happens at the same time as a face-to-face activity, where students can share their thinking about the topic or assignment. This app gives students and teachers a place to store back-channel conversation information that can be used to see how students feel about their learning. This kind of formative assessment gives teachers insight into which students might be thinking, “I’m not sure I understand this” or “What does this have to do with what we are learning?”

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