How I Use It
This was my first time using Formative in the classroom. I had seen this web tool before in Professional Development sessions, but never took the time to try it myself… until now. I am so glad I did! I introduced Formative into my third-grade classroom through a whole group math explore exercise. Each student has a device in my room, so they were able to use the tool and respond individually. My goals for this first attempt were to introduce my students to this new web tool we would be using in our classroom while also assessing their number sense and problem-solving abilities.
I gave the students two math problems using the “show your work” response option. The first question had the students show the number six using shapes, text, and drawings. I wanted the students to explore the different tools available to them since this was their first time using the web tool. I had the students share out what they had discovered, while also sharing their work examples. We talked about the different tools available for them to respond with. I was able to see right away if students were on task and completing the question appropriately. I was even able to provide immediate feedback to guide the students who were struggling and encourage those who were on the right track. When the students felt comfortable, we moved onto the second question: a one-step multiplication problem and students were able to choose the strategy that worked best for them. I loved being able to see all the different strategies right away that were being used. I was able to assess my students within seconds to see if they were on the right track.
My students really enjoyed seeing their work being displayed on the Promethean board. Some even became teachers themselves by coming up and explaining their thinking to the class. This promoted their use of math vocabulary. It also allowed for a wonderful class discussion on the different strategies that could be used and how no ONE strategy was the right or wrong way to go about solving this problem. Our first attempt was a success! The students had several take-aways from this activity: being able to successfully use the formative web tool, it tapped into their creativity and problem-solving abilities to answer the questions, they had collaborative discussions with their classmates about different the different multiplication strategies and had the opportunity to self-reflect on their own methods and responses.
Overall, I think Formative is a wonderful formative assessment tool that any educator would benefit from using (if there is access to computers, tablets, cellphones, etc.). I absolutely love the fact I can see the students’ responses on my screen without having to walk laps around my classroom! The instant data is so helpful for catching misconceptions right away and for planning instruction/small groups. Not only do I receive immediate information, but the students can too with real-time feedback. I can extend some students with a higher-level question while providing guiding questions to those who are struggling at the same time using the feedback tool. It was incredibly easy and quick to create my own formative task. The students also found it easy to adjust to this new tool. Despite the simplistic design, my students were engaged the entire time! I would like to continue to explore the different response options and tools within the questions for other subject areas. My students REALLY enjoyed being able to show their work in a digital way while also presenting it to their peers. Two setbacks I did have while using this tool were focusing on an individual’s response and eliminating student responses. When the students were presenting their work to the class, I was not able to figure out how to display an individual response on the whole screen. It would only show up small on the right-hand side. I had to stretch my screen to make their work take up the whole screen. Also, while I was testing out the formative task, I typed in my own responses, along with colleagues, but I could not figure out how to get rid of them without deleting the entire formative. I wish there was a way to delete a student’s response if the need arose. I have reached out to Formative with both of my questions using their online chat box. I will be happy to edit my response with their answers if the site allows me to.