Formative Assessment Ideas for History

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

Formative assessments allow teachers to make those crucial professional decisions to adapt their instruction to best meet the learning needs of their students. This lesson offers ideas for how to do this in history classes.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessments are given mid-lesson to determine how much students have learned, and how ready they are to move on to the next concept. These should be quick and easy to analyze. History lessons often come packed with content that builds on previous material, so it's important for history teachers to know what needs more focus. The assessment ideas in this lesson are designed to help quickly collect the data you need.

Hand Signals

One of the easiest ways to assess understanding is by having your students give you a signal. You could call out the concepts from the lesson and ask them for thumbs up or thumbs down. Another technique is called 'fist-to-five': students hold up five fingers if they feel fully confident about the material or a fist to show complete confusion. Any number of fingers in between indicates their degree of understanding.

Quick Write

Give students index cards or sticky notes and a time limit of 2-3 minutes. Have them write everything they've learned from the lesson so far. You might focus their writing by giving them a topic such as ''The Magna Carta'' or ''The Louisiana Purchase.''

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