Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Formative Assessment Institute Day 3

Lindsey Link, Patricia Turner, Heather Shaffery, Janis Slater, Margaret Salesky, Laura Halstied, Michell Eike | Published: October 29th, 2021 by K20 Center


During this third day of the Formative Assessment Institute, participants focus on distinguishing Assessment of Learning, Assessment for Learning, and Assessment as Learning.

Essential Question

What is the role of assessment in the design of effective learning environments?

Learning Goals

  • Define formative assessment

  • Analyze strategies to determine their purpose in the formative assessment-centered classroom

Materials List

  • Presentation Slides (attached)

  • Card Sort Math (attached; one per Math teacher)

  • Card Sort Social Studies (attached; one per Social Studies teacher)

  • Card Sort English Language Arts (attached; one per English Language Arts teacher)

  • Card Sort Science (attached; one per Science teacher)

  • Justified True or False Statements Math (attached; one per Math teacher)

  • Justified True or False Statements Social Studies (attached; one per Social Studies teacher)

  • Justified True or False Statements English Language Arts (attached; one per English Language Arts teacher)

  • Justified True or False Statements Science (attached; one per Science teacher)

  • Note Catcher (attached; one per teacher)


Using the attached Presentation Slides display slide 2. Introduce yourself and welcome the participants to the Formative Assessment Institute.

Display slide 3. Share with the participants that this is day 3 of a 4-day professional development institute covering formative assessment in the classroom.

Display the appropriate grant goals from slides 4-6. Select the appropriate goals for your group of participants: GEAR UP for the FUTURE, O+C=K, or MY SUCCESS. Hide the other two slides.

Display slide 7. Share the essential question for the institute: What is the role of assessment in the design of effective learning environments?

Display slide 8. Share the session objectives with participants:

  1. Define formative assessment

  2. Analyze strategies to determine their purpose in the formative assessment-centered classroom

Display slide 9. Remind participants that they will be referring back to the purposes throughout the institute.

Display slide 10. Share the instructional strategy, Collaborative Word Cloud, with participants.

Introduce the activity:

In yesterday’s session, we talked about the different purposes for which formative assessment strategies can be used. We also have a list of ideas about formative assessment in our anchor chart that we have been referring to in our discussions. In our first activity, we will identify key characteristics of formative assessment using a word cloud. Then we will agree on a group definition of formative assessment based on everything we have talked about so far.

Share the Mentimeter link you created earlier with participants. Ask them to work in small groups to come up with 3-5 characteristics unique to formative assessment and then add them to the word cloud.

Some examples you may see include ongoing, inform instruction, not graded, etc. Once participants have submitted their responses, download the word cloud. Add it to slide 11 to share with them.


Display slide 12. Pass out the attached Frayer Model handout, and share the instructional strategy, Frayer Model, with participants. Instruct them to include the following information about formative assessments in their Frayer Model:

  • Definition in their own words

  • Characteristics

  • Examples

  • Non-examples

Once all participants have finished, ask a few to share out with the group. Work to create a group definition.

Display slide 13. Share Page Keeley’s definition of formative assessment.

Formative assessment is a systematic process of collecting evidence about students’ thinking and learning to inform instruction and provide feedback to the students while simultaneously promoting learning.  It happens during the learning process.

It is assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning, and it can also be assessment as learning.

How does their group definition compare to hers?

Take a moment to discuss how the word cloud and Frayer Model were used here for assessment AS learning. Get ideas about other ways these strategies could be used as formative (or even summative) assessments.

Display slide 14. Introduce the concepts of evaluation and assessment:

Another term you hear a lot in education is “evaluation.” It is sometimes used interchangeably with assessment. They are two different things. Formative assessment should never be considered evaluation. That is why it is suggested that formative assessment not be graded (except as participation).  


Display slide 15. Introduce the concept of metacognition: One of the hardest things to think about is assessment AS learning. As teachers, we are charged with getting students to think about their own learning. This is called metacognition.

Display slide 16. Share the following video:

Display slide 17. Introduce the concept of the metacognitive strategy, What Are You Doing And Why? Have participants pair-share how this could be used in their own content areas. Ask for volunteers to share out.

Display slide 18. Pass out the attached Note Catcher. Allow participants time to reflect on the assessment strategies that they have explored up to this point and answer the question, How were they used and how can I use them?

Announce a short break.


Display slide 19. As participants are returning from their break, prompt them to sit with their PLCs. Introduce the agenda for the rest of the session: “Now that we have explored the characteristics and purposes of formative assessment in general, the rest of our time will be devoted to looking at how formative assessment can be used in specific content areas.”

Display slide 20. Share the instructional strategy, Card Sort, with the participants. Instruct them to read each of the brief scenarios on the cards and sort them into one of the following categories:

  • Assessment as Learning

  • Assessment of Learning

  • Assessment for Learning

Once participants have had a chance to discuss their card sorts, hold a whole group discussion to emphasize that strategies are not always content-specific. They can be used in different content areas for different purposes and objectives. This is why it is important to start with a goal, objective, or desired outcome when you design a formative assessment. 

Display slide 21. Share the instructional strategy, Not Like the Others, with participants.

Display slides 22-25 to show examples from each content area. Provide the whole group an opportunity to look at each subject’s sample formative assessments and try to answer the question, What type of data are you collecting from your students and how can you use it?

Encourage every content area to stretch their thinking at this time, but ask the math teachers to provide insight into their example, social studies teachers to provide insight into their example, etc.

Display slide 26. Share the instructional strategy, Justified True or False, with participants. Pass out the attached Justified True or False handout to each of the content tables. There is a handout specific to each content area. Each has an example of a Justified True of False assessment with sample student responses. As a small group, instruct participants to review the sample responses and discuss the following: What does the information tell you, and what next steps can you take with the information.

As participants are discussing these questions, walk around, monitor, and provide support in reading the data.

Show slides 27-30 as a review for the entire group if you feel they would be beneficial to the participants.

Display slide 31.  Bring participants’ attention back to their Note Catchers. Provide them time to reflect on the assessment strategies that they have explored up to this point and answer the question, How were the strategies used and how can I use them?


Display slide 32. Instruct participants to pull out the student work samples they brought with them. Ask them to spend the remaining time with their content groups examining their student work and determining the next best steps to take in the classroom.

Research Rationale

Analyzing the current skill level of students in a classroom at any given time and determining the best course of action for ensuring they all meet the target learning goals can be a challenge even for seasoned teachers. The idea of using formative assessment to meet the individual needs of students  is not a new topic. In fact, researchers as far back as Benjamin Bloom have shown that one-to-one tutoring is the most effective form of instruction because of the tutor’s ability to pinpoint misconceptions and provide immediate feedback and correctives (William, 2011). Despite continued research backing up the claims that formative assessment can enhance student success, teachers may continue to struggle in their efforts to use the full array of formative assessment practices available. The question then becomes “What can teachers do to effectively improve and enhance their use of formative assessment in the classroom environment?”