Thursday, January 22, 2015

Three Powerful Formative Assessment Tools for the Chromebook Classroom

As more and more Chromebooks hit the classroom, redefining instruction and instructional practices is getting easier and easier – you just have to know where to start. One step in the process is to rethink the way you gather crucial information about each student and their journey towards mastery of a concept. There can be real power in the formative assessment process.

To understand the richness of these new tools, you first need to understand formative assessment. This process is meant to measure where students are in the learning process by applying a diagnostic tool, usually in the form of questions. This can be done through both formal and informal assessments. The information obtained could then be used to modify teaching and learning activities with the goal of helping improve student comprehension.

Here are four assessment tools that are perfect for the Chromebook classroom. They can help teachers monitor student progress and allow for quick and easy differentiation. More importantly, they provide a fun and engaging way to review important concepts.

This is always the biggest hit during the Chromebook workshop sessions that I do with teachers. Socrative is an easy to use and engaging way to assess student learning. Socrative uses a “room” system, and students enter a teacher’s “room” to begin an assessment.
Assessments can include traditional, open response or multiple choice quizzes, exit tickets, and even the fast paced Space Race group activity. 

My favorite test option is the single question activities that you push out to students on the fly. Use the short answer option to ask for immediate feedback on a learning goal. By using this tool, teachers can quickly gauge whether or not individual students, or the class, are ready to move on to the next concept. Socrative is web-based, requires no sign-up by the student, and can now use Google sign-in for teachers. Each room allows for over 50 students per quiz. Once the quiz is complete, Socrative provides a spreadsheet of responses that can be emailed directly to a teacher, downloaded as a spreadsheet, or saved for later.

Tip: Try the Space Race option, a favorite student quizzing activity. With a Space Race, students can answer questions individually or in teams – with each correct answer propelling a space ship across a screen until one student or team emerges as the learning champion when their space ship makes it across the screen.


Another favorite formative assessment tool is Kahoot!, which allows teachers to ask consecutive quiz-show type questions using a highly engaging and fun format. Students can use their Chromebooks to play this active and absorbing game.
Kahoot! uses sounds and timers to make the game high energy and interesting to play!
Kahoot! also allows teachers to share their quizzes, so you can search the library to find examples that might be perfect for your class.

Google Forms

Part of Google Drive, Forms, is an incredible way to assess student learning. I heard Diane Main, and educator from The Harker School, claim she doesn’t know how she got up in the morning before Google Forms, and I would have to agree. Forms is one of my favorite all time tools. This assessment tool allows me to push out a multitude of questions via a form – which is much like a survey. Student answers then populate into a spreadsheet – and that is where the fun begins.

Tip: Within the spreadsheet, I can conditionally format the answers, adding colored backgrounds to answers that are wrong, so that I can instantly pinpoint which kids are grasping the concepts and which ones need further intervention. This technique, which I learned from an innovative educator, Jennie Magiera, allows me to quickly differentiate my instruction as I get real time information about student comprehension. For more information on conditional formatting, please consult this tutorial.

Chromebooks provide a great platform for teachers to gather rich information about learning in their classroom. Armed with these devices, we can now administer formative assessments in ways that are both engaging and highly informative. Used effectively, these can provide a solid understanding of learning trends in your classroom.


  1. Great collection, Holly! The perfect trifecta! Will be sharing these at the NV GAFE Summit this weekend!

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