We recently chatted with Ben Carter about one of his first experiences using Formative. Ben teaches IB English III & IV and AP Language & Composition at DeLand High School! He expressed how Formative helped him empower students to participate! We asked him four follow up questions to learn more and we hope what he had to say inspires you!
David from Formative: We released our new version of Formative over the summer and it’s so exciting to hear that teachers like yourself are trying it out for the first time! Can you tell us how you learned about Formative and what made you want to give it a try?
Ben: I recently finished my Master’s in Educational Leadership at Stetson University. While attending, a few of my classmates who taught at the elementary and middle school level talked about the different types of online assessment tools they were using in their classrooms - Formative being one. We demoed a Formative lesson in class and then the wheels started turning as to how I could incorporate this assessment tool into my High School English Courses. I liked the instant feedback and data that could be generated in a matter of minutes. This data could be used in class for a quick check for understanding or even to drive the construction of my future lessons.
David from Formative: Thank you so much for sharing that pic of your students using Formative to create anticipation guides. Can you tell us more about what your students were learning about in that class period and the role that Formative played in it?
Ben: My students were working on an Anticipation Guide for Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. This is an activity where the students preview the conflicts in the text by discussing them using their personal opinions and experiences - creating text-to-self connections. Traditionally, this has been a back and forth, get up and move kind of activity that resembles a loose debate. However, I thought this would be the perfect time to try a Formative activity because I have certain students that tend to dominate the floor when they get a chance, and others that will find ways to avoid the discussion entirely as not to feel like they’re having to speak publicly about their thoughts on a subject. By using formative, everyone could address each topic at the length they felt it needed to be addressed. The instant feedback generated by the Agree or Disagree selections told us where we stood as a class (by percentage). Then I was able to show the student responses (anonymously) to the class to see where their opinions aligned or differed. Which still made for some rich discussion amongst the students.
David from Formative: You mentioned that you love the ability to hide names associated with the live student responses you are gathering with Formative because it empowers students to speak up. Can you explain how this feature had that powerful impact in that class period?
Ben: For students, anonymity can be a powerful thing. I have worked with other digital presentation platforms and some of my best responses and teachable moments have come as a result of students knowing that their answers are not going to publicly expose them to the class. Thus, the responses are more genuine and powerful. Students tend to be comfortable knowing that even if they make a mistake, and it can be addressed as a class, without the singling out of the person behind the response. Formative’s ability to provide teachers with this option provides a level of safety for students that will really allow them to be authentic in their voice.
David from Formative: What else have you used Formative for and what would you like to do with it in the future?
Ben: I have used Formative for warm up activities where the data generated leads into the day’s lesson. Also, Formatives have worked well as Exit Slips in my classroom where students can take the last few minutes of class to review what they have learned. Plus, students have really enjoyed the additional tech time that has been built into my lessons through Formative and other digital learning tools. As we move forward, I would like to use Formative in more student-led activities, where students feel comfortable creating assessments using Formative and quizzing their classmates as a review tool. Every time I try something new on Formative, I quickly survey the students at the end of the lesson to see what they thought. The feedback is valuable because it helps me understand what does/doesn’t work for them and the issues that students may encounter when they construct their own assessments.