How Chanda Uses Formative To Assess Reading Comprehension And Engage Students

As a daily warm up, Chanda White (6th and 7th grade English), asks students to pick an article from CNN, read it, and share their live summary of their article on Formative! Watch the video below and check out how she project live responses, encourages formal writing, and engages students! 

The next thing she wants to try with Formative is allowing her students to live annotate responses! Here's a few ideas! Got tips for annotating on Formative? Post here! 

Embedding Audio For Accomodations

Teachers have discovered that you can embed audio recordings into Formative and this has become especially important for student accommodations. In the video below, Sean shares how he embeds recordings of himself reading questions and why he prefers this over reading them in-person. He also shares a great workaround for cropping videos that he embeds as well:

And here's how to embed an audio recording yourself:

Lastly, here's a bonus video where Sean explains why he uses Formative for so many different learning activities!



Chatting With Carolyn & Rori: Do Nows & Reflections

We got to meet with Formative Educators Carolyn Griswold (Health) and Rori Abernathy (7th and 8th grade Math) and compare the different ways they use Formative! Carolyn shared how she uses it to give descriptive feedback and Rori shared how she uses it engage students in weekly reflections about growth mindset utilizing Class Dojo! While Carolyn wants to use it for bell work, she's looking for advice on how to do it efficiently given time constraints and Rori was happy to help! Check out the highlights from their conversation below and click here post your own advice in our forum!

Try A Student Interest Survey With Formative

In the video below, Sean shares how he used Formative to conduct a student interest survey on Formative! In addition to getting to know his students, he's found that a great way to introduce Formative to them:

He asks students about their current perceptions regarding school:

And he also uses the survey to reinforce classroom expectations:

Click here for a copy of his formative! If you use Formative as part of a beginning-of-the-year activity, we'd love to hear about it! You can share here!

How Kimberly Helps Her Students Learn About Sentence Construction

Every Friday, Kimberly gives her 3rd grade students, a formative where they write sentences based on pictures. Watch the video below for how she uses the responses she gathers to help them learn about new grammatical elements!

Also, check out why she uses Formative to help students prepare for the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium):

Apply This Art Formative To Any Subject

Instructional Coach Veronica Enriquez has created some awesome formatives to share with teachers in the past and here she share one that you can draw inspiration from no matter what subject you teach! 

Based on their knowledge of the elements of art, she asks students to share which one is the most important and why. The multiple choice question she has included allows her to easily compare responses and quickly get a sense of any trends. The short answer one then allows her to understanding the reasoning behind student choices. We could see this multiple choice and short answer question combo being applied across subjects to quickly poll students and enrich class discussions:

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 2.22.20 PM.png

She then asks students to use the elements of art to depict an emotion in a Show Your Work question. Imagine applying this idea to English or another world language! You could give students templates to depict different types of scenes and adjectives:


Click here to add a copy of Veronica's formative "Elements of Art" to your dashboard on ! If you've got your own creative ways you use the different Formative question types, share them here!

Embedding A Graphing Calculator On Formative!

Ever since teachers discovered that they can embed a Desmos or Geogebra graphing calculator within a formative, our math community hasn't been the same! Teachers can choose to embed the bare graphing calculator or a specific graph that they've created on it! In both cases, student can manipulate the calculator to respond to associated questions. Here's how to embed it:

Instructional coach Veronica Enriquez has been sharing this feature with her teachers! In the video below, she tells us why teachers have started to use Formative for Math and also shows a formative where she asks students to manipulate a graph she's embedded (manipulating "k" to see how that affects a parabola):

How Gretchen Uses Formative For Fill In The Blank Activities

Gretchen teaches composition and creates fill-in-the-blank activities to assess her students' sentence construction skills. In the video below, she walks us through one of her formatives and how she uses the student data she gathers:

Here's the share code for Gretchen's formative (HYVAMH), which you can enter in our new version to get a copy of it! If you don't have access to our new version, simply message us over the site! Also, she wants to start using Formative for annotations so if you've got advice, you can share it here!

Show Students Their Live progress!

By David Kwan

When teachers ask students why they love Formative, students often say they like being able to share their own live responses and getting quick feedback. By providing individual support to students, teachers have a huge impact on learning and we are honored to be a part of this process...

What's even cooler is when students are given the opportunity to identify their own misconceptions and independently determine the next steps to learn more. Roxy, an awesome math teacher, uses the Formative summary view to do just that! Students can spot which questions they need to revisit and concepts they need to review...

Here's one of her student's reflections on the impact that Formative has on their learning process:

How do you use Formative to communicate with your students about their progress? What impact does that have? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, our forum, or over via the chat intercom when logged into

A Personalized World

by Angela Gonzales 

It's no secret how much we love the idea of playlists. Giving your students the chance to work at their own pace and on skills that they need to focus on is so crucial and beneficial to the success of our students. Check out this version of a "playlist" from, teacher, Kelsey Rupsch. Here, we can see her building a self-paced grammar course for her kiddos and pairing it with Formative to assess her students. The beauty of Formative is that you can give all of your kiddos different tasks, and you're still able to watch all of them respond, live, on your device. How great would it be to make a self-paced, individualized playlist for each of your kiddos for every lesson? Sure that's a huge jump, but think about what you could start with tomorrow. 


Global Feedback

by Angela Gonzales

Teachers, have you heard of #gmttc ? This hashtag stands for the Global Math Task Twitter Challenge, started by two amazing teachers, Heidi and Beverly, to connect teachers globally around a common purpose of math tasks. Essentially, you connect with another teacher across the nation, or even the globe to challenge your classrooms to a math task. Students work to solve the math tasks and share their findings with one another. There are a variety of ways in which you could implement this in your classroom, all of which provide opportunities for collaboration. You can find more info about the Global Math Task Twitter Challenge on their blog. 

When May V shared this image today tagging us and Global Math Task, our wheels started turning. The image depicts various student responses from a math task. But, what if these student responses were not from your own students but from the students of a teacher in another state or country. Teachers could connect globally, challenge their classrooms to math tasks from classroom to classroom, and share live results virtually to one another. Students can see responses live and give each other immediate feedback virtually on Formative in real time. Virtual feedback, given across the globe in real time. Even pair students up to provide each other with feedback and allow students to "formatively" assess one another's understanding. Can you imagine the depth of conversations that could take place? How incredible would that be!? The possibilities are endless. 

Easier Than A Ruler: How We Are Climbing The SAMR Ladder

By David Kwan

Yesterday, Cara Senger shared the following pics on Twitter and exclaimed, "the "show your work" option in @goformative is working out great for transformations! #easierthanaruler."

We got especially excited when we saw that hashtag because it suggests that in some cases, our digital draw tool actually gives students an "edge" in showing their thinking (no pun intended). It also encourages our efforts to provide a tool that doesn't just act as a substitute for what is already possible without tech, but creates new possibilities.

There's actually a scale for how much a tech tool changes the way students learn in a classroom and the possibilities it creates. It's called the SAMR model and can be thought of as a ladder, from tech acting as a direct tool substitute for traditional learning experiences to redefining them. Here it's compared to different coffee orders and while they are not exactly the same, we think  it helps convey the model:


Teachers who are using the live responses they gather with Formative to make meaningful changes to future learning activities are realizing our tool's potential for modification (significant task redesign). And while making it easier for students to draw transformations in math class doesn't exactly lead to redefinition (where new learning tasks are possible), it's continuing to motivate us to provide tools that can.

Cara's students used our straight-line draw tool! What other drawing tools can we provide to help your students express their thinking? What tools can we provide to help you explore new learning tasks with your students? Feel free to comment below, message us over the site, or tweet to us at @goformative.

Students Choose The Next Learning Destination With Formative!

By David Kwan

 5th grade math teacher & Formative Educator Kayla Lemiuex

5th grade math teacher & Formative Educator Kayla Lemiuex

Our teachers are so creative with Formative! For example, Kayla Lemiuex built a travel-themed weebly website where students can take a formative to gauge their progress with a mathematical domain and then choose the appropriate learning activity (ex: a Formative learning playlist). And to cap it off, students get to explore something fun about the featured country/continent before heading off to the next destination. Check out highlights below:

 Students take a pre-assessment for the mathematical domain and based on their score, select the next learning activity

Students take a pre-assessment for the mathematical domain and based on their score, select the next learning activity

 An example of a pre-assessment Kayla made. Tag questions to standards for tracking student growth across formatives!

An example of a pre-assessment Kayla made. Tag questions to standards for tracking student growth across formatives!

 Here's a learning playlist where students watch short instructional videos and then practice. Kayla is able to see their live responses so she can support them.

Here's a learning playlist where students watch short instructional videos and then practice. Kayla is able to see their live responses so she can support them.

Students get to learn more about each destination as they proceed!

Her overall approach is awesome because it invites students to self-assess and practice skills at their own pace. We want to be in your class Kayla! 

That Moment When You See Your Students' Live Drawings Appear

Seeing your students' live drawings appear on Formative for the first time is exciting because you realize that regardless of grade level or writing skills, your students can represent their thinking and you can give them instant feedback.

In the image below, 7th grade Science teacher Angie Card's students model waves! Plus, she's able to provide both written and mastery (4 point scale) feedback.

As fellow Science teacher Nick Weiss mentions, "I've used it when modeling molecules and atoms too...pretty much works for any scientific modeling activity". Glad to hear it Nick! If you've got a great set of student drawings to share, tweet it mentioning us (@goformative), post it on our forum, or send it to us over the site! We'd love to show it off! 

The Benefits of Error Analysis

by Angela Gonzales 

We cannot talk enough about the benefits of error analysis. Learning happens when mistakes are made and what better way to learn than to analyze mistakes. Take students through the error analysis process, and let them take lead of the questions through open dialogue with peers to really comprehend the "why" and "how" behind each of their problems. Take Stacey Muller for example, who used our "show your work" feature to allow her students to analyze a question that had been completed incorrectly. Students then had to correct the mistake and explain the "how" and "why" behind their new solution, not only building new understanding but building off of misconceptions and generalizations. How do you utilize error analysis in your classroom? Share with us on our Facebook or Twitter page or leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you! 

Vocabulary as Art

By Angela Gonzales 

When art and vocabulary intertwine, the pairing is magical. Take a look at English teacher, Paul Moss' utilization of formative and art. Paul used our short answer feature to have students respond to a challenge he posted on Formative. He shared these results on the board in front of the room and had students reading and collaborating with one another both virtually and face to face. This is one of the best ways to reach all of the learners in your classroom, even those that are apprehensive to participate. An added bonus? Students then had to add their vocabulary words that they found to a mandala that they were creating. Talk about a class that we want to take. Thanks for sharing this with us, Paul. Your creativity is inspiring.

 Students posting their findings on Formative.

Students posting their findings on Formative.

 Students adding their vocabulary words to a Mandala that they were creating in class. 

Students adding their vocabulary words to a Mandala that they were creating in class. 

Using Formative Responses To Drive Discussion!

By David Kwan

It's easy to see why teachers love projecting student responses on Formative. Instead of pulling notebooks to put under a document camera to share, you have every student response at your finger tips. This makes it easy to encourage students to explain their thinking or interpret peer thinking! Plus, you can hide names and scores so students can focus on what they can learn from each other rather than who got it right vs. wrong!

In Ms. Roache's pics below, amazing discussions emerged when students were asked to compare the black and white pieces of a whole!

How Would You Catch A Giant Squid? Use Formative!

How would you catch a giant squid? This is the question that Mark Schlaudt posed to his students and it quickly turned into a STEM project! His students used Formative to create digital blueprints of their contraptions before building actual prototypes! How cool is that?

 Mark's students discussing the digital blueprints they built on Formative!

Mark's students discussing the digital blueprints they built on Formative!

Mark explains why he used Formative to help his students create and share their digital blueprints:

Formative is one of the best formative assessment tools, as it allows for endless creativity. When a student logs in they are prompted with the question, "How would you catch a giant squid?" They then were able to draw, write, insert pictures or a combination of all three to answer the question. As students worked independently on their blueprints I had the teacher view of the question on my screen which shows a live view of what everyone is working on. With this displayed around the classroom students were able to see, in real time, how others were designing their rigs. This helped to scaffold those that maybe didn't have all the information they needed yet, didn't have an idea of what to do, etc. Students next sat down with their groups and reviewed their blueprints, discussed potential flaws in their models and came up with a new blueprint as a group that ultimately would be translated into a real, working model.”

 Students build prototypes, bringing their Formative squid-catching blueprints to life!

Students build prototypes, bringing their Formative squid-catching blueprints to life!

Want to learn more about Mark’s fun STEM project? Follow the link below!



ISTE Presentation Highlights: Using Edtech For Formative Teaching

By David Kwan (Formative Community Manager, former special Educator)

Happy 2017 everyone! On Saturday, we got the opportunity to present about the idea of formative teaching. It was exciting because formative teaching is a new term that we think should be spread worldwide and practiced with technology. Click here to watch our full presentation or if you just want the highlights, read on below:


1) To understand what formative teaching is, we can look at a more familiar term, formative assessment. Many people have different ideas of what formative assessment means:


2) If we assume that an assessment is a check for learning, we can simply look at the adjective, formative, to describe formative assessment. The bottom line is that YOU make an assessment formative:

3) David Wees' chart below shows different formative assessment strategies from Dylan Wiliam (top row) and how teachers practice them in different instructional routines (far left column) throughout the class period. As you can see, what you need to do to help shape student development goes far beyond frequently administering assessments and giving written feedback on them:


4) And so, whereas formative assessment can provide you with useful data, we believe formative teaching does a better job of acknowledging your role in driving student development and encompassing all the strategies you use: 

5) Speaking from personal experience, practicing formative teaching and all the strategies that can come with it, can be a daunting time and workload challenge. That being said, Formative ( can help you gather live insights, given instant written feedback and scores, and spend more time actually planning the interactions that actually help shape student development (ex: student-centered class discussions where students can be activated as instructional resources for each other)...

6) And very soon, you'll be able to see how a class or an individual student is doing a specific standard or skill over time, to not only see if they've grown, but how to help them learn more...