Formative assessment tools can be a part of every teacher's toolbox. They needn't be complicated or..
Every teacher knows that the classroom environment is a great place to allow students to “take the wheel” in learning. Student-led formative assessment activities can give students the power to learn more by being able to explain certain ideas themselves to their classmates.
This trend isn’t anything new exactly, and it's something that modern education is embracing wholeheartedly. It’s a win-win situation for everyone in education. After all, teachers are surprised to learn that students are their own harshest critics. The truth is that they are far more discerning when it comes to assessing their own work than we could ever be.
So why not embrace this reality in our classes? Here are nine examples of student-led formative assessment in which students can take the lead in place of the teacher for a unique learning experience. The idea is that kids tend to pay better attention to their peers at times, for truly engaged learning.
1. Testing Preview With a Buddy
Students love this idea. In order to alleviate some anxiety about test taking, it’s helpful to give them a test preview. They can buddy-up with a partner to discuss all the answers for the test. Obviously, this isn’t graded, but it can help students learn from each other what holes they might have in their learning of a subject.
This kind of student-led formative assessment is especially useful for math subjects, where one student might be more proficient than the other. It can help them learn ideas faster.
2. Student Discussion Leader
When discussing a book or idea, it’s beneficial to have a student lead the discussion at times. It's a great way to enhance a sense of responsibility for learning, aside from also developing leadership skills. The student in charge can ask questions of the other students that you as the teacher might not have thought of.
It can lead to a much more organic and riveting discussion when a student is at the helm. They can come up with themes from the book exclusive to their thought process and engage their peers.
3. Brainstorming Solutions In Groups
Give the students a problem to solve. Begin by dividing them into groups and have them pick a group leader and a transcriber. Next, have that person write down all the ideas the group comes up with for the solution. The leader will act as a student moderator to make sure they are focusing on the task at hand and staying on the subject as much as possible.
4. Dress-Up Bio Day
This is one student-led formative assessment concept that’s been around forever because it works so well. Have each student read a summary of an autobiography or biography of their choice. Then they dress up as that person and present themselves to the class. It's a cool and creative confidence builder that really shakes things up.
Kids are learning through creativity and explaining the life of someone else in an easily understandable way. They are teaching the class about an important historical figure so that everyone can understand their contribution to the world. You can even make it themed—for example, bios of “people who changed the world” is a great one.
5. The “Science Guy (or Gal)” Project
Have each child present a simple science experiment to the class. They are essentially playing themselves as the “science guy or gal.” So “Jen The Science Gal” is going to demonstrate how a litmus paper test works, for example. Have each of the kids come up with their own simple experiments to show and explain to the class. A white lab coat they can wear makes this project even more fun.
6. Student-Led Conferences
More and more schools are letting the students take charge on conference night. The goal of this student-led formative assessment is to allow a more open discussion between students and their parents. Student-led conferences mean they can bring their own special creative ideas for hosting to the table. These kinds of events end up being unique and enjoyable for everyone. It's another great way to assess students' abilities while fostering the leadership mindset.
7. Student Surveys
In order to get the kids excited about learning how to gather data and use it, assign a leader to take the survey. Then they can put together their results and present them to the class. It's easy enough for students to use online resources to create the survey themselves. Here's a list of free survey building tools students can try out.
Surveys are a tried-and-true method for checking understanding. Encourage them to make the survey challenging enough so they are invested in seeing the results. Examples of engaging questions might be about what they want to learn next, or the best thing they learned in the previous lesson and why. Pie graphs and charts can also be made by the students from the findings in the survey.
8. “Teacher For The Week”
You can get the students involved in this far in advance. Assign each student a week where they get to act as the teacher for a set amount of time. It doesn't have to be very long, maybe 15 minutes at the most. They pick a concept or idea to show the class a little bit of each day for an entire week.
They get to plan their lessons in advance and prepare for their teaching week well ahead of time, so they can effectively explore an idea or concept. Be on hand to offer them insights on how best to do this.
9. Daily Student Current Events
Assign each child a day to report on current events in front of the class. You can make this like a newsroom by having the “reporter” sit at a desk in front of the class. Do this on an ongoing basis each week by assigning each student the day’s news the night before. That way they can get educated on newsworthy events to present to the class. Have them do 3-5 headlines each morning, to explain what's going on in the world today.
What student-led formative assessment activities have you tried out with your classes?
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Jun 7, 2019, updated Dec 16, 2021