I really like giving children choices. For example during math I set up centers that all support the same concept but at different levels of challenge. Keep track of what they choose to do over a couple of weeks and that will tell you something about their level of understanding. You can then plan for the different learners. This can be done with a checklist that has space for notes. The notes could be Post-its so you can collect them and add them to individual children's files. This also can show growth over time which can also be formative.
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For formative assessments, you can have the students do a thumbs up/thumbs down in response to questions you ask. You can also teach them to discuss a topic in a group of 4. Then you have one member of each group share to the whole group. You can also have students draw a representation of what they learned. They can write a sentence with it if they are able. Another idea is graphic organizers (Venn diagram, sequencing chart, cause and effect organizer, character web, etc.). Students can draw on them who do not have the writing skills. If you have small white boards for each student, you can give them math problems, ask a yes/no question, say a word to spell, etc. and have the students write their response on their white boards. The kids can hold up the board when they are ready so you can easily see who is getting it and who isn't. Another fun idea is to have kids act out what they have learned. They could act out a story, the water cycle, social studies concepts, etc.
I hope these ideas help. Have fun!
For which subject do you teach?
Thank You all for your wonderful answers.
For first grade students, I use a lot of nonverbal assessments such as hand signals. If you agree or disagree (hang loose signal or thumbs down). I also use a journal with every student. The science journal is an amazing tool to quickly assess the student's understanding and writing. I recommend the book Science Notebooks, Second Edition: Writing about Inquiry. There is a chapter about assesments. It doesn't need to take a lot of time and it is not something to grade. It is the students' book..they are the author.
Quick performance tasks/probes are nice, too such as in Paige Keeley's book Uncovering Student Ideas in Science.
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