Snow, Vance and Associates

Building Capacity in Formative Assessment

Assessing through Technology

Check out these great apps for assessing on the fly...

Whiteboard HD
Paper 53
Draw Wireless

(for graphic organizers)

BaiBoard HD
(for collaborating with graphic organizers,
text annotation, whiteboards)

(exit slips)

Word Collage

(Word Clouds)

Stick Picks
Similar to traditional popsicle sticks, BUT the app allows you to select Blooms questioning stems appropriate for each student.

Top five websites that support formative assessment...






From the Field

Chain Notes and Four Corners
Mr. Nisbet, Art History teacher at Grapevine High School, discusses how he embeds Chain Notes and Four Corners in his students' learning experiences to blend assessment and learning.

Text Tagging
Mr. Chapa, World Geography teacher at Metro Opportunity High School, shares how his students use Text Tagging to interact with reading material  while he uses the tags to check for student understanding.

Looking for ways for students and educators to Text Tag using technology? Several free apps such as Adobe Reader allow for annotating text.

Road Signs

First Word / I Think... I Learned...
Ms. Ford shares with us a science lesson on bats she designed to incorporate engagement, movement, cooperative learning and checking for understanding.

Visual Synectics
What do paper clips and velcro have to do with the growing tension in the colonies?
Ms. Garcia discusses how she used everyday objects to engage students, promote higher order thinking and check for understanding.

Visit the formative assessment blog for more ideas.

Reproducible Tools for Educators

3-5-1 Multi-Step Summarizer

Summarize today's learning in 3 sentences...

Reduce your 3 sentences to 5 key words...

And finally, 1 word...

Download the 3-5-1 Printable


CASH Out requires students to reflect on a reading passage, article, video or presentation using four guiding questions:

  1. What did you learn about the _____? (Cognitive)

  2. How did you react to _________? (Affective)

  3. What surprised you about ________? (Surprise)

  4. What idea or part was helpful to you? (Help)

Students respond individually after reading the passage or viewing a video. CASH Out could be followed by a Timed Pair Share in which each partner has one minute to share his or her responses to each question.

CASH Out Template (Word Version)
CASH Out Template (PDF Version)

Road Signs

Road Signs asks students to indicate their understanding of a topic or procedure by selecting a road sign that indicates where they are in learning an objective/topic.

Road Signs Powerpoint Slide
Road Signs Wall Signs
Road Signs Pinch Card

Data Analysis Protocol

In our work with educators, we have found that structured conversations about student performance are critical for improving instructional practice and student learning. The data analysis protocol is one of several protocols we provide to make the most of educators' limited time together.

Data Analysis Protocol

Sticky Wall

Sticky Walls are a means to display students' responses to questions or statements. The benefit of a sticky wall is that students and educators can quickly see where students might have questions, insights or connections. As a result, instruction can be adjusted while the learning is taking place. Sticky Walls can be purchased from on-line vendors or they can be made at home.

Sticky Wall Directions

Muddiest Point

Muddiest Point is an example of an exit slip or bell ringer. On a slip of paper, students write about a concept or idea from the lesson that was muddiest for them. The exit slip becomes a formative assessment when the educator (or the student) uses the responses to determine the next steps in the learning process.  


SOS is an example of how a formative assessment tool can be built from an acrostic. The S stands for Success - What is one thing from today's lesson that you feel you have successfully grasped? The O stands for, On Target - What did you hear or read today that is on target with what you already knew about the topic; and the S stands for, Synopsis - In ten words or less, sum up today's learning.


Students need regular affirmation from both their peers and their teachers. This list is a short list of affirmations for all ages that can be used to teach, model and reinforce this critical socialization skill.

Affirmations Printable

Lesson Plan Design Template

When planning lessons, consider embedding checks for understanding every 10 minutes during instruction. The Lesson Plan Design Template contains a list of formative assessment strategies to help during planning.

Lesson Plan Design Template

ABCD Response Cards

Response cards labeled A, B, C and D can be used by students to show their responses to multiple choice questions. Teachers first pose a question to the class. When the teacher says "show" students use the response cards to show their answer to the teacher.

To maximize the learning, teachers may choose to label the four corners of the room with the letters A, B, C and D. When different answer choices are selected across students, teachers can ask students to go to the corner of the room that represents their answer choice. After arriving at their corner, students may explain the reasoning for their answer choice. Then, students may be given the option to move to another corner after hearing another peer's explanation.

Use the following template to make ABCD cards for your students. Punch a hole in the upper right corner of each card and use a ring to bind the cards.

ABCD Cards Template

North-South-East-West Reflection
Use these four questions with students and teachers to promote self-reflection and metacognition.

N: What do you Need to move forward?

S: What is your next Step?

E: What  Excites you about the ideas?

W: What do you find Worrisome?

Reproducible version of NSEW (Version 1)

Reproducible version of NSEW (Version 2)

PLC's or PLN's, use this protocol to share your work with colleagues and learn from the good work of others. The original Success Analysis Protocol was developed by the National School Reform Faculty (NSRF).

Twitter Feed

Collaboration is key to supporting each other in formative assessment practices. Please share your classroom examples and good thinking through twitter.

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