Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2016


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

Subjects & skills

  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (17 Reviews)

Pros: Appealing design, flexible features make it easy to create simple or detailed assessments.

Cons: Assignments are tailored to individual use without collaboration options.

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.

Use Formative to build bridges between your classroom and home (i.e., lessons and applications) by creating assignments loaded with content (text, images, YouTube videos, and uploaded documents) and varied-assessment options suitable for different learners (multiple-choice questions, short response, illustrated response, uploaded images/documents). Make assessment accessible and purposeful with weekly project updates, small application quizzes, and quick writes. In addition to creating class-catered assignments, you can leave personalized student feedback based on individual student data or comparative class data trends. Use that data to quickly inspire the next assignment. Teachers might also consider writing workshops, math labs, history fact checks, scientific argumentation and illustrations, and daily class openers as useful ways to connect technology, learning, and assessment using this blended-classroom tool.

One of the best affordances of Formative is the ability to support truly reflective, student-centered formative assessment. Check out our quick video tip below for how to make this happen, and then explore our other resources to help Make Formative Assessment More Student-Centered.

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Formative is a free, web-based student-response and assessment tool for the flipped, BYOD, or 1-to-1 classroom. After a detailed tutorial, teachers can upload or create assignments that let students type, enter numbers, draw (with a mouse or their finger, depending on the device), upload an image, or answer multiple-choice questions. Teachers can create classes (manually or by filling out a template spreadsheet) and then distribute their assignments to students through classes (including Google Classroom) or via an access code. Students can use accounts (which allows teachers to track their progress over time) or choose to respond without logging in. Teachers can watch their students' responses arrive in real time via the teacher dashboard, and teachers can send back grades (manually our automatically) and also send longer narrative responses in reply.

After teachers create an account, they receive an automatically generated email from the company's cofounder and CEO (who is a former teacher) with links to a step-by-step walkthrough and a page of YouTube tutorials. A blog linked from the developer's website offers further assistance.

Formative's developers emphasize the tool's "for teachers, by teachers" origins, and it excels as a flexible tool for meeting a diverse array of teacher needs. In a crowded genre, Formative stands out with its wealth of question types and excellent options for just-in-time and/or individualized feedback. It's usefully browser-based (so students don't need to download the same app to many devices), and it works whether students have an account or not, making this a great fit for the classroom from a privacy perspective and from the practical standpoint of how things really happen in the BYOD classroom. 

There's a remarkable amount of scaffolding here, both for students and for teachers. 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 to be approachable and highly user-friendly. The gallery of premade assignments is especially game-changing; the sample assignments cover a range of topics and uses, and they can inspire teachers across disciplines to come up with ways to use this tool in particular and formative assessment strategies in general. Keep in mind, though, that Formative won't transform your teaching on its own. Like 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 assessments that demand meaningful engagement and thoughtful feedback. Luckily, there's a lot of guidance here to help teachers do just that.

Overall Rating

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

Creating assignments is simple, and submitting responses is a snap 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?

Students submit responses by answering multiple-choice questions, drawing, or typing, and teachers can send back detailed feedback in real time. The dashboard offers great at-a-glance progress tracking.

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

Great step-by-step instructions for teachers and students make it easy to get started. The developer's website features great information and ideas for classroom use.

Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

(See all 17 reviews) (17 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Janine K. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
New York, NY
Fantastic Feedback Tool
There are many tools out there that allow the teacher to do quick checks of comprehension. This tool is the second I have encountered that allows the teacher to see live results as they are written. This is beneficial and time saving as the student no longer has to wait to turn in an assignment before getting feedback. Providing immediate feedback allows for teacher/student conferencing in real time. Due to the fact that I teach alot of students and I only meet with them once or twice a week, this allows me quick conferences with my students and allows more students to receive feedback from me more often. I like it.
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