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FACT Formative Assessment Classroom Technique

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Engineer effective classroom discussions


Provide feedback that moves learning forward
Clarify learning intentions and success criteria
Activate students as owners of their own learning
Activate students as learning resources for one another

FACT # 1- Interest Scale


Description: Make a chart with a target, thermometer, or use a meter stick. Students put Post-it notes to
show how interest in or knowledge of a topic.
When to use: Use at the beginning of a unit to determine their interest or knowledge. Revisit it
throughout the unit to make sure their interests are still high.
Why: It is used to determine the students interest in or knowledge of a topic. This feedback can help the
teacher to make it more interesting and pertinent.
FACT # 2- Popsicle Stick Questioning (Equity Sticks)
Description: A technique used to selectively choose students for No-Hands Questioning.
When to use: Use with any subject and throughout the day.
Why: This type of technique encourages all students to think and be prepared to answer questions when
randomly called upon.
FACT # 3- Fist to Five
Description: Students hold up their fist and/or fingers to show their level of understanding of a question
or concept. Fist represents no understanding. Five fingers represent full understanding.
When to use: Can be used at any time and can be used to check for understanding after teacher gives
directions. Students can initiate at any time this when they are confused.
Why: Quick dipstick assessment of entire classes level of understanding.
FACT #4 Point of Most Significance POMS
Description: In this quick technique, students are asked to identify the most significant learning or idea
they gained from a lesson or reading selection.
When to use: Use with any subject and throughout the day.
Why: POMS is a metacognitive strategy used to help students connect with the important goals of a
lesson. Students reflect back on the lesson and identify the key points that contributed to their learning.
FACT #5: Traffic Cups
Description: Red, yellow, and green stackable party cups are placed in the center of a groups table or
workstation to represent whether the group is able to proceed without the need for teacher intervention or
whether they need assistance.
When to use: Are usually used during group work and student investigations to signal to the teacher
when groups need help or feedback.
Why: The traffic cups provide a quick visual signal to the teacher as to when a group may need assistance.
It allows the teacher to use time more efficiently to work with groups that have the greatest needs.
FACT # 6- Think-Pair-Share
Description: Teacher poses a question and gives adequate think time. Then students share ideas
(shoulder to shoulder or face to face) with a partner. The teacher circulates through the room assessing the
conversation and taking anecdotal notes. The thinking is then shared in a whole group discussion.
When to use: Anytime throughout the unit.
Why: Students are more apt to share with a whole group after trying their thinking out with a partner first.
Students can share, discuss, clarify, and challenge each others ideas.
FACT # 7- Terminology Inventory Probe (TIP)
Description: Students are given a short questionnaire with terms. They select a response based on their
knowledge.

Keeley, Page. (2008). Science formative assessment: 75 practical strategies for linking
assessment instruction, and learning. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press.

When to use: Best used at the beginning of a unit.


Why: Gives students an opportunity to activate their schema. Can inform instruction and uncover
misconceptions.
Note: The books shows a students familiarity with a concept not depth of knowledge. Our model also
shows a students depth of knowledge.
FACT # 8- Card Sort
Description: Students are given a set of cards with either pictures or words on them. They are asked to
sort them according to certain attributes or characteristics. They work in pairs and have to justify their
thinking to their partners.
When to use: Can be used at any point in a unit.
Why: Gives students an opportunity to activate their schema, build vocabulary, defend their thinking and
clear up misconceptions
FACT # 9 Give Me Five
Description: Students are given a prompt and take a minute or two for a quiet think. Five students then
volunteer to publicly share their reflection. (Five is an arbitrary number.)
When to use: Can be used at any critical juncture in a lesson or at the end of a lesson or class period as
closure.
Why: Give me Five is a simple, quick technique for inviting and valuing public reflection and welcoming
feedback from students that will be used to design responsive instruction.
FACT #10 Wait Time Variations
Description: Wait time is the interval between the time a question is posed and the time either a student
or teacher responds to the question.
When to Use: At any time during the class discussion. Silently count to 3 to 5 in your head and WAIT.
Why: When teachers increase their wait time to at least three seconds, class participation increase,
answers are more detailed, complex thinking increases and achievement scores increase significantly.
FACT # 11- Concept Cartoons
Description: Students are given a cartoon with contrasting opinions. They choose a stance and have to
defend it.
When to use: Can be used at any time but when used at the beginning teachers can use it to see how
deep the students understanding is of the concept.
Why: Gives students an opportunity to activate their schema. Can inform instruction and uncover
misconceptions. Students can defend their thinking.
FACT # 12- Agreement Circles
Description: Students are asked to form a large circle. A true or false statement is read to the group. The
group is given about 10 seconds of wait time before they are asked to move into the center of the circle if
they agree with the statement. If they disagree, they remain outside. Students are given a few minutes to
defend their thinking within their groups. The teacher calls time and students may change their position if
they have changed their minds or remain where they are. The teacher notes the changes and the process
is repeated with another statement.
When to use: Can be used at the beginning of a unit or in the middle to reinforce concepts.
Why: Students must have a deep understanding to defend their thinking

FACT # 13- Human Scatterplots


Description: Students are asked a question. They position themselves within the room where the teacher
has assigned this answer. Then they position themselves in a line to show how confident they are in their
answer.

Keeley, Page. (2008). Science formative assessment: 75 practical strategies for linking
assessment instruction, and learning. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press.

When to use: Human Scatterplots can be used at the beginning of a unit or lesson.
Why: It is a quick way to see what the students are thinking and their confidence level as well. Students
are able to get up and move.
FACT # 14- Four Corners
Description: Teacher poses a multiple choice question. Students go to one corner of the room with
students that have the same answer. Students share their justification for their answer with their group.
They may move to another group if they change their minds.
When to use: Best used after a lesson or series of lessons.
Why: Gives students an opportunity to compare their thinking with that of their classmates. Teacher can
get a quick visual of where the entire class stands.
FACT # 15: Fish Bowl Think Aloud
Description: This technique is used to listen in on the thinking of a sampling of students in a class. Four
or five students are selected to be a in a fishbowl, sitting together in a cluster or the front of the
classroom. The rest of the group listens to the conversation. Provide the students in the fishbowl with an
interesting open-ended prompt for discussion to begin the thinking process. Example: Is air necessary for
gravity to act on an object?
When to use: This FACT requires the students in the fishbowl to think out loud, describe their thinking,
and explain the reasons for their ideas. The other students are mentally comparing their ideas to what
they are hearing in the fishbowl.
Why: As the teacher listens in on the conversation, understandings, and misconceptions can be noted that
may need to be address in subsequent instruction.
FACT #16: Focused Listing
Description: Focused listing asks students to recall ideas and experiences related to a science topic they
encountered in a prior instructional unit or grade. Students list as many concepts as they can recall about
the activity.
When to use: Use at the beginning of a new unit of study.
Why: It helps teachers to gauge students readiness and familiarity with facts, ideas, knowledge, or skills
from a previous unit of instruction.
FACT # 17- Two Stars and a Wish
Description: Students give feedback to their peers on their work. The two stars would describe what the
student did well on their work. The wish provides the student with an idea for revision.
When to use: Can be used any time students are peer conferencing.
Why: Gives positive feedback and gives the student a focus for revision
FACT # 18- Justified List
Description: Students are given a statement about a concept. Examples are given that fit and do not fit
the statement. Students check the examples that fit the statement and provide justification for their
thinking.
When to use: Can be used at the beginning as a pre-assessment.
Why: Teacher may use the information to plan lessons. Can show the level of student understanding.

FACT # 19- Sequencing


Description: Students are given a card or a series of statements and asked to put them in a logical
sequence.
When to use: Can be used at the beginning as a pre-assessment. It can be used during a unit or after a
lesson to determine the level of understanding by the teacher.

Keeley, Page. (2008). Science formative assessment: 75 practical strategies for linking
assessment instruction, and learning. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press.

Why: Teachers can see preconceived ideas before beginning a unit. Sequences should be saved so the
students can see their growth.
FACT # 20 What Are You Doing and Why?
Description: Students are asked what are they doing and why are they doing it as they are involved in an
activity. It encourages teachers to be clear about the purpose of the lesson and/or unit.
When to use: Can be used at any point in a unit to check to students are clear on goals for lesson and/or
unit.
Why: This strategy informs the teachers instruction. Teacher is able to check to see if the goals are being
met.
FACT # 21 K-W-L Variations
Description: Students record what they know about a concept (K). Describe what they want to know (W)
and then detail what they have learned (L).
When to use: This strategy is used through a unit.
Why: Students are invested in their learning. Teachers can use chart to plan to address misconceptions,
plan lessons that students are interested and ensure that desired outcomes are being met.
21- K-W-L Variations
K-W-F: What I know, what I wonder, this is how I will find out
K-T-F: What I know for sure, this is what I think I know, this is how I found out
O-W-L: This is what I observed, this is what I wonder, this is what I learned
P-O-E: This is what I predict, what I observed, this is how I can explain it
KLEW Get a KLEW about evidence
FACT # 22- Commit and Toss
Description: Students are given a question to answer on paper and are told not to put their name on it.
When all students have completed the sheet, they are asked to crumple their sheet and toss it into the
middle of the room. Students are asked to pick up one crumpled ball and share the ideas on that paper
with a partner.
When to use: Can be used at any time in a unit.
Why: Helps teacher get a snapshot of the whole class thinking. Helps students to see there are other
ideas besides their own. It is nonthreatening. All ideas can be shared.

Keeley, Page. (2008). Science formative assessment: 75 practical strategies for linking
assessment instruction, and learning. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press.