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


Cool assessment targets kids’ strengths; sprawling content overwhelms

Subjects & skills
  • Character & SEL

Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: Who doesn't love a personality test? Students will jump at the chance to answer self-reflective questions and find out their strengths.

Cons: In-person activities may be costly and out of reach for some students; digital content is uneven in quality.

Bottom Line: A great starting point for conversations about students' strengths; skip some of the digital content.

Consider using the assessment as a way to start or end the school year and see students' progress over time. You might use the results as the subject of a teacher-student advising conversation or as the centerpiece of a parent-teacher conference. The built-in portfolio tool can be a little clunky, but it has merit, too: If your school isn't already invested heavily in another content-sharing tool (such as Google Drive or Dropbox), it could be a great collaborative space for teachers and students alike. 

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Founded by a tech entrepreneur, Thrively is a website that helps kids find online and local activities that fit their particular interests. Thrively was created with input from pediatric neuropsychologists, and the site bursts with teacher-contributed lesson plans and ideas. Once a teacher sets up a class, kids take an assessment that identifies 23 potential strengths. The site then suggests activities tailored to kids' interests and strengths; Thrively says it has more than 100,000 on file. Kids can click on a "Done It" button when they've completed an activity, and progress can be viewed using site dashboards. Users also can share activity boards with other members of their social circles.

Kids' experience on the site should be safe. Thrively doesn't contain racy content or images. However, it frequently links to external sites that provide additional information on programs or events the site suggests -- sending kids away from the closed environment the site provides (though it's primarily a parent resource, so you may not have to worry).

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For students you’re just getting to know, or for those who may need a little help articulating their interests, Thrively is an interesting tool to help them consider how they'd act in different situations and then get a strengths-based assessment. While there are some traditionally academic questions (identify the Colosseum, solve a visual logic problem), there are other questions about navigating social situations, good sportsmanship, and even juggling. The broad range of question topics normalizes that there are lots of ways to be smart and lots of things that kids can potentially like and be good at. 

That aspirational tone would be even better if there were a better sense of how to sort through the resources. It's not clear where they all came from, and it's even harder to search them strategically. Also, not all of these resources are for all kids: While some activities are free in-person events or accessible online activities, others are pay-to-play affairs. It's pretty slick that you view activities instantly curated by your ZIP code; having similarly sophisticated search capabilities would make this a one-stop shop for kids. As it is, this is an engaging starting point for an encouraging conversation about a student's abilities and what kinds of learning activities might engage them next.

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Overall Rating

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

As with any online quiz, kids are likely to love answering questions that are all about them and their interests. Beyond the quiz, though, the suggested learning activities can be hit or miss.

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

While the assessment is good, the language seems best for middle schoolers. Passively viewed videos aren't likely to stick with kids, but there's a nice mix of solid in-person and online resources.

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

Though the interface is pretty intuitive, it's hard to keep track of your progress or move purposefully through the site's resources after the initial assessment.

Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Darlynn A. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Junior High School 167 Robert F Wagner
New York, NY
Get to know your students!

I think Thrively is a great teaching tool. Not only is it a great teaching tool but the students loved using it.
It gave students the autonomy they crave to explore their passions. Ideally, in the future I would love to use this as part of a unit where students pursue their passion, such as the Genius Hour Project by Angela Maiers

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