Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2018

Formative

Superb real-time assessment tool a fit for 1-to-1, BYOD classrooms

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (18 Reviews)
Common Sense Privacy Evaluation

The privacy evaluation process categorizes edtech tools into the following three tiers:

Use Responsibly

Indicates that the service meets the minimum criteria and more research should be completed prior to use.

Use Caution

Indicates that the service does not clearly define the safeguards to protect student information.

Not Recommended

Indicates that the service does not support encryption or lacks a detailed privacy policy.

Pros: Flexible features make creating simple or detailed assessments a snap, and the ability to see student responses in real time helps teachers meet students where they are.

Cons: Assignments are tailored to individual use and lack opportunities for peer collaboration.

Bottom Line: Cleverly designed for teachers, Formative offers a flexible and attractive solution for gathering a variety of student response types and offering individualized feedback.

One of the best affordances of Formative is the ability to support truly reflective, student-centered formative assessment. Use Formative to bridge the gap between school and home via a flipped classroom model with videos, reading assignments, and written responses, or guide students through an e-learning day with meaningful real-time assessment and feedback. View students' progress as they complete graphic organizers, work out math problems, annotate an image, or work through a science lab. Talk with students digitally, giving them the chance to try, fail, try again, and reflect on their learning processes. Create multifaceted lessons that include warm-ups as well as showing work, watching supplemental videos, and submitting written reflections -- all while giving students a chance to show their understanding via writing, drawing, audio, multiple choice, or other modalities. During or after a lesson, use the data you gather to inform future instruction, eliminating the guesswork and surprises that often accompany standard classroom lessons and traditional assessments.

Two-way communication and options for group collaboration would add to Formative's engagement factor, but even without those, opportunities abound for teachers to connect with and guide students. 

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Formative is a web-based student response and assessment tool for the flipped, BYOD, or 1-to-1 classroom. Upon sign-up, teachers can add classes via class code, URL, Clever, or Google Classroom. Teachers can then choose whether to take advantage of detailed tutorials and a plethora of content showing ideas for use, or they can upload or create assignments on their own that let students type, record audio, enter numbers, draw (with a mouse or their finger, depending on the device), upload an image, answer multiple-choice questions, and more. Students can use accounts (which allows teachers to track their progress over time) or respond without logging in. 

Progress monitoring options are varied, ranging from real-time formative feedback to a student growth tracker, which allows teachers to track student progress by standard. The teacher dashboard lets teachers see student work in real time, and teachers can manually or automatically send back grades or narrative responses in reply.  
 

In a crowded genre, Formative stands out with its wealth of question types and excellent options for just-in-time, individualized feedback. The ability for teachers to see their students' learning processes in real time is invaluable and allows teachers to intervene and guide student learning before students are too far into a concept. Because of the browser-based platform, it works on any device, making this a great fit from a privacy perspective and from the practical standpoint of how things really happen in the BYOD classroom.

There's a remarkable opportunity for scaffolding here: Teachers can provide as many resources as they wish to support student learning. Students will love how easy it is to use the tool, no matter which device they have in hand, and teachers will love how the features for assignment creation, distribution, and feedback are all thoughtfully designed with the end user in mind. The growing library of premade assignments has potential to be a game changer, but teachers will have to spend some time digging through them to find the gems. Assignments cover a range of topics, and teachers can help curate quality content on the site by rating them. As with any assessment tool, this site's learning potential is only as good as the teacher behind it, so it's up to the teacher to design thoughtful lessons that demand meaningful engagement and thoughtful feedback. Luckily, there's a lot of guidance available to help teachers do just that.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Being able to write, draw, watch videos, work out problems, and receive specific, instant feedback from teachers will engage students on any device. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Real-time feedback can help students of all ability levels improve under a teacher's guidance, and teachers can take advantage of the dashboard's great at-a-glance progress tracking to monitor student progress.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Because teachers can add so many types of content, it's easy to accommodate students' different learning needs. The developer's website features great information and ideas for classroom use.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

Teacher Reviews

(See all 18 reviews) (18 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Dean V. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Archbishop M.C. O’Neill Catholic High School
Regina, Canada
Teacher and student friendly formative assessment tool. Ability to add other tools and create amazing learning opportunities. Always evolving product.
It is like a Swiss Army knife. It provides amazing formative assessment opportunities that can align to standards. The data it provides helps teachers and students make informed learning and instructional choices. It can provide a one stop shop for engaged learning opportunities.
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