Melissa's Story (Elem Math & Social-Emotional Learning)

Learn 4 Key Ways That 3rd Grade Teacher Melissa Swallows Uses Formative...

1. Assess and Group Students Throughout a Unit of Study

"I've been using Formative in my third grade classroom since October. I started off by using Formative for quick math check-ins. These check-ins help me to form my guided-math groups for each specific standard that the students are working on. For example, in December we worked on the third grade standard: Uses place value understanding to round whole numbers to the nearest 10 or 100. Before we started our learning of that standard, students logged into Formative and completed a few questions to show their knowledge of place value before learning. Because Formative allows me to check on student progress instantly, I was able to decide on my leveled math groups as the students completed their pre-assessment. In this situation, Formative allowed me to evaluate my students' understanding instantly. And of course, there are no papers involved in this step, and I can see each students' progress with Formative Live Results. 

After my guided-math groups are formed from the Formative pretests, I work with leveled groups at their skill level. Throughout the unit my students login to Formative at least two more times during learning. This allows me to form my instruction around their progress, and group kids based on their needs and strengths..."

2. Facilitate In-Depth Discussions of Student Work

"We've also used Formative as a class interaction tool to study together the day before a test! All of the students login and answer a math question. After they are done, we "mirror" the live results on a screen. Because Formative allows me to turn off the students' names, they can analyze each others work and have in-depth mathematical discussions about procedures and answers! They enjoy seeing each other's responses live."

3. Return Feedback In A Timely Manner

"Finally, my students and I also use Formative for summative assessments! At the end of their learning, I present them with a batch of questions. The students know that I will be grading their answers at this point in our learning. While they complete each question, I provide a grade by using the point system and provide comments on how their answer looks . The students like the immediate feedback and there is very minimal waiting when I score their live results."

4. Get To Know Students Apart From Academics and Holistically Support Them

"Besides mathematics, the students and I love using Formative for daily check-ins. These check-ins relate to our Social and Emotional learning standards (Standard 1A Identify and manage one's emotions and behavior) that are provided by the state of Illinois. Several times a week the students will come into class and go straight to Formative on their iPads. Then, each student lets me know how their morning went or how their week is going. Most of the time, I comment back on their responses. The kids love my responses and we all look forward to that brief, one-to-one communication during our morning.  If students are going through a tough time or not feeling particularly well, they'll let me know through Formative. I then offer a time to come and chat with me in private if they would like to discuss their feelings. Formative has allowed me to get to know my students on a whole new level and provide them with the opportunity to express their feelings in an inviting way. The students actually ask for the check-ins!"

Ex: Emotionally Preparing Students For Lock-down Drills

"I've included a screen shot of a daily check-in from December that was particularly meaningful to me. On that particular day our school was going to practice a lock-down drill with our local police department. During these drills, each classroom teacher and his/her students pretend there is an intruder in the building and plan on how they will handle the situation. That morning our Formative check-in allowed me to learn how my students were feeling about this experience. I was able to message students (especially the ones who said they were scared) and tell them that it was okay to be scared during a drill. I let my students know that I have a plan for every situation and every type of emotion was valid. That specific check-in will probably be the most important one of this school year. I've attached a screenshot of some of their responses from that day."