Free Digital Formative Assessment Tools: Important Thoughts Before Implementing

12/1/2014 12:00:00 AM
Technology and the interactive web provides ample opportunity to gauge student understanding and learning in ways not possible just a few short years ago. Not only can the formative assessment process be engaging, it can also be owned by students. In this post I wish to explore some of those tools that allow teachers to take short temperature reads while involving students in their learning. Before introducing the tools I have several thoughts and ideas that should be considered before using any tool provided on the web. Remember that student privacy is very important and any tool used should be approved by the school district and sanctioned in some way with the District AUP (Acceptable Use Policy. With this in mind you should:
  • Read and be aware of your district AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)
  • Read the Terms of Use and Privacy Statement of all web programs used in classroom
  • Do not sign up students for accounts, or put in an online class list, without checking district policy
  • If a tool states that students not have to sign up… still be sure that students do not leave a digital footprint that leaves an identity
  • Educate and encourage students to practice proper digital citizenship at all times

The sites listed below allow for some wonderful interaction. Please enjoy and use with you students in both an educational and responsible manner. Take a moment to explore the program, learn and reflect on possibilities, and investigate through the terms, privacy, and your school AUP, how they can best serve your students.

Kahoot – This is an amazing formative assessment tool that allows an educator to:

  • Make quizzes
  • Start a discussion
  • Create A Survey

If your students like a gaming environment complete with a leaderboard… then this will be a hit in the classroom. Content questions can be used and teh teacher has access to all results. How do you get started? All a teacher needs is a free Kahoot Account which can be obtained at .The below manual explains how to make an interactive activity with Kahoot. Remember this is a Web 2.0 Tool. It is suggested for students to use nicknames or first names only. Enjoy the tutorial. You can also learn more from the manual.

Infuse Learning – This is a very easy formative assessment tool to get student response and even begin a classroom discussion. After the teacher signs up for an account a classroom is created with a unique ID number. Website to sign up for a free account. Students then go to the student sign in to a page using Class ID along with their first name or nick name. Remember to remind students to never put in personal or self identifying information when answering any question from Infuse Learning. If a teacher wants to use the advanced features and set up a class, they should be sure to follow their district AUP and read the Terms and Privacy policy for teh site.  Infuse Learning can be used to  input in the following formats:

  • Drawing
  • Multiple Choice
  • Open Ended Text
  • True False
  • Sort In Order
  • Numeric
  • Likert Scale

Infuse Learning works on a variety of devices and uses most browsers except Internet Explorer. Watch the below tutorial to see how easy it is to use.

Answer Garden – Welcome to another online tool to allow for Formative Assessment and engage students in discussion. Answer Garden allows the teacher to set up a website that gathers student input and ideas. As students answer a question prompt, their answers appear on the home Answer Garden screen set up by the teacher. Both teacher and students have an opportunity to see what the ideas of the crowd really are. It is simple to use. Since this is a open web tool students should be reminded to not answer with personal or identifying information. No student log in is required. Ways to use Answer Garden:

  • Pose a Driving Question
  • Collect ideas and opinions
  • Look for adjectives that describe a character in a book
  • Use as a polling mechanism… large words most popular
  • Look for number of class that can get a correct answer
  • Incorporate in a Socrative Seminar
  • Align words to an idea, concept, place, or object
  • Compare and contrast using two Answer Gardens
  • Exit ticket of a learned concept
  • Get feedback on an upcoming test
  • Your idea

Answer Garden can also be uploaded to Wordle or Tagxedo to create a Word Cloud. In the area below take a moment to learn more about how to use Answer Garden. Explore these opportunities To Learn More About Answer Garden
Check out this Quick Start Guide
Look at this Demonstration of Answer Garden
Learn more about Answer Garden with these Facts
Answer Garden One Page Direction Sheet

Quizlet – This is a wonderful study tool that allows for self assessment by students. Quizlet has a variety of flashcards, tests, and study games that make learning fun and engaging for students of all ages. It is also be used on any computer at home or school, and on the go using the free mobile apps for iOS and Android. The free account allows teachers and students to create study sets, track study progress, and compete while working collaboratively with others. Note that the free version does include some advertisements. Along with creating a quizlet, it is also possible to find others that just might help from a large database made by others. While class set ups are not required, it should be noted that there are opportunities to set up a class and Terms and Privacy policies should be compared with school AUP if doing so. There are even ways to password protect each Quizlet. Take a moment to explore the following areas of Quizlet.

Socrative – This is an amazing feedback tool that allows the teacher to get some quick formative feedback on student learning, understanding, and reflection. It is based on the teacher creating “Quick Question” activities that can include Multiple Choice, True False and Short Answer They are intended to be quick and easy pulse checks with visuals. Students can use just about any device. It also allows for the student to remain anonymous. In short answer areas students should not post identifying information. As in all of these tools, it is sometimes best to have students use first name only, or nicknames. There are reports that are always available in the REPORTS section found after selecting MANAGE QUIZZES from the teacher dashboard. Reports can be downloaded or emailed after a class completes a Quiz. There is even a game feature. There are other advanced features that allow for class set up and student collaboration if it is appropriate for age of students. As always please be sure to check Terms and Privacy and see where your intended usage aligns with district AUP. Learn even more by exploring the below links:

cross-posted at

Michael Gorman oversees one-to-one laptop programs and digital professional development for Southwest Allen County Schools near Fort Wayne, Indiana.  He is a consultant for Discovery Education, ISTE, My Big Campus, and November Learning and is on the National Faculty for The Buck Institute for Education.  His awards include district Teacher of the Year, Indiana STEM Educator of the Year and Microsoft’s 365 Global Education Hero. Read more at

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