Formative assessment in English classroom: how to support

How to support English language learners with formative assessment

How to support English language learners with formative assessment

15.09.2022

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  • Tips & Strategies
  • Methodology

The concept of formative assessment does not necessarily have to be associated with traditional teaching and learning. We can use it to diversify and enrich our lessons because formative assessment has a number of advantages for both learners and teachers of English.

What formative assessment is about, how to use it in class and benefit from it — read in this blog.

What is the essence of formative assessment?

In a nutshell, formative assessment is when a teacher monitors what students already know while they are still learning. The main purpose of formative assessment is to identify whether your students are successful in learning, and determine how to build their learning and adjust your teaching in the future.

On the other hand, formative assessment is all the tools we can use to check how well students have mastered the material.

It can take the form of a quiz or an individual task, a game, group work, a project, a presentation, Q&A sessions, tests, etc.

All this helps the teacher to assess whether the aims of individual lessons, units/modules, long-term and short-term goals have been met. In addition, such assessment helps keep students on track to achieving language acquisition goals within the curriculum.

How can students benefit from formative assessment?

1. If you use formative assessment regularly (for example, do a quiz every Friday), it provides an element of regularity and safety for students.

2. Formative assessment can take many forms, so it breaks the monotony of the traditional classroom environment, where the learning-testing-learning system prevails.

3. Formative assessment does not require the use of traditional marks such as numbers (1-12) or letters (A, B, C, D)

Instead, the «pass»/«fail» system or even colours, stars, or other symbols are used. This relieves some of the stress from students and allows them to simply focus on language acquisition instead of grades.

4. Formative assessment has a positive impact on language acquisition.

Say goodbye to boring lessons and hello to engaged students

How do teachers benefit from formative assessment?

  • We can use formative assessment to adjust our teaching methods or strategies.
  • Formative assessment can help us identify our weaknesses

Each class is a group of different students, with different abilities and levels of English. That’s why we cannot use a universal approach to teach them.

  • Formative assessment helps identify these individual vulnerabilities.
  • Formative assessment helps to identify problems faster than summative assessment, and solve them before it’s too late. Formative assessment can take any form. 

Thus, it is quite a flexible tool in the hands of the teacher.

  • Formative assessment helps us decide whether to move forward or linger a little longer on a particular language issue.
  • The introduction of formative assessment helps teachers better understand their students as well as become stronger teachers.

Ways to conduct formative assessment?

We have put together some ideas to help you conduct formative assessment in your English classrooms. The main thing to remember is that formative assessment should be simple, because, as a rule, such measures are needed only for checkup, not for actual assessment. The point is to learn about the progress of individual students or the class as a whole.

Quizzes and surveys If you want to check if your students really know as much as you think they know, surveys and quizzes created with Socrative or Quizlet or games and tools such as Quizalize, Kahoot, FlipQuiz, Gimkit, Plickers and Flippity

Peer-instruction

One of the most effective ways to test comprehension is to give a student the role of a teacher, and ask him/her to teach another student what he/she has already learned. Students will understand what you have taught them when they can successfully teach another student.

Alternatively, ask students to write three test questions that they think relate to the topic of the lesson on their own. This can be a multiple-choice question, a gapfill, or a short-answer question. In the next lesson, conduct a quiz using questions written by your students.

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Creative «quick» projects

Students can create a large number of projects that will demonstrate their understanding. Short-term projects help students apply higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. These should be small and easy tasks that can take a day, afternoon or even an hour to complete. Here are some ideas for quick projects:

  • make a poster or collage illustrating the topic;
  • record a rehearsed scene or podcast discussing the covered topics;
  • build a diorama and create a story based on it;
  • draw mind-map;
  • create comics with Canva;
  • develop their own tasks / questions / flashcards to test each other, etc.

Three-two-one

At the end of the lesson, ask students to write down:

  • 3 things they learned / discovered today;
  • 2 interesting things that happened in class / that they have learned;
  • 1 question they still have.

BioPoem

To describe a character or a person, students compose a poem that contains:

  • Line 1: First name
  • Line 2: 3-4 adjectives that describe the person
  • Line 3: Important relationship
  • Line 4: 2-3 things, people, or ideas the person loved
  • Line 5: Three feelings the person experienced
  • Line 6: Three fears the person experienced
  • Line 7: Accomplishments
  • Line 8: 2-3 things the person wanted to see happen or wanted to experience
  • Line 9: His or her residence
  • Line 10: Last name

Graffiti Wall

Place a series of tasks or sticky notes in the classroom. Students walk around the class and write the answers with markers. They can also choose an arrow to «add» to the ideas of their peers or tick the ideas they agree with.

This task is quite fun, and can also help weaker or shy students, because they will see the answers of more advanced peers.

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Article authors & editors
  • Yulia Chorna

    Yulia Chorna

    Author

    DELTA Module 1, CELTA certified teacher of General & Business English

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