Quick Assessments

Happy Students by Tom WoodwardQuick formative assessments will tell you if your students understand the lesson (or if they were paying attention). They’re also a great way for teachers to check on the learning of all students, not just those who either volunteered or were called on to contribute.

I Noticed…

One quick formative assessment that I learned at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute is called “I Noticed…” Mike LoMonico modeled it for us as a closing activity before breaking for lunch or ending the day. I have used it successfully in my own class since.

How to Do It

We are going to go around the room. (Explain how—by rows, in a circle, randomly called on.) When it is your turn, you need to share one thing you noticed about class today. I will start. I noticed how Angela interpreted the character really well when we read that section aloud. (Then indicate student to start. Help them keep going if they get lost. Make everyone contributes something.)

Index Card Check-In

There are variations on this one, and you’ve probably heard of it before, but just in case you haven’t, the index card check-in is a great way to see where your students are and to guide your instruction.

How to Do It

Give each student an index card. Tell them to write down two observations or connections they made about class and one question they have. Of course, you can change this up and alter the requirements. The cards are the “ticket out the door” and must be collected before students leave. Read over the cards and incorporate discussion of particularly interesting connections or statements and student questions into the next lesson.

Finger Check

This one is another oldie, but I hadn’t heard of it until a few years ago perhaps because I think it works better for subject matter in which there are definite answers (for example: is this a mixture or a solution?).

How to Do It

Tell students the key for the answers. For example, one finger might be mixture and two fingers might be solution. When you ask a question, have the students hold up their fingers to respond. Look out for incorrect answers or students who hesitate before holding up their answers and look around to see what the other students think. They are having trouble with the material.


I know English teachers use journaling a lot, but it can be great way to close class for any subject.

How to Do It

Give students a topic related to the lesson and anywhere from 3-10 minutes (depending on complexity and level) to write a response. Collect responses. You can use these responses to begin the next class, noting particularly good insights.

If you have good ideas for quick formative assessments, please share them in the comments.

Creative Commons License photo credit:  bionicteaching

8 thoughts on “Quick Assessments”

  1. I started using a "welcome" last year for each class: as they walked in they had three minutes to respond in their notebooks to my posted questions, comment, quote, etc. I started it to help them settle (we have no bell to mark the start of class–don't even ask about that insanity) but instead it has become a great way to open discussion or assess how yesterday went. Typical prompts have been "write down the three most important motifs we observed in Frankenstein yesterday" or "what do you think should happen next?" I immediately know whether they need review or I need to adjust my agenda to accomodate ideas they have. I am really pleased with it and it takes almost no work!

  2. I'm a fan of the thumbs method — it's instantaneous. After I've taught a new concept (particularly in grammar) I ask them to put their thumbs up if they feel like they get it, thumbs sideways if they're not quite sure and thumbs down if they're totally lost. Based on the number of thumbs pointing whatever way, I can tell if I can move on, or if I need to re-explain what I just taught.

    1. It depends on the size of the class. My classes are all relatively small at a private school. I found about five minutes was sufficient for a class with around 15 students. I would say a class twice that size might need close to ten minutes.

  3. Dana,

    Thanks for sharing these. This is the type of post that teachers love, and need. There is always room for discussion about methodology, especially when it is practical and effective.

    I will be sharing these with my new colleagues in the fall.

Comments are closed.