There are many different ways to assess student understand, both formative and summative. During this section we will explore and share some of these strategies.

The Teaching Channel offers many quick tips. As you watch this 1-minute video, think about how this assessment could be used with students or with adults.

Reviewing, Summarizing, and Assessment Strategies and Resources

Graffiti Write

In graffiti write, students are provided a concept or topic and asked to write everything they know about a specific topic on chart paper, a white board, or other large sheet of paper. Their responses should look “graffiti-like.” Students should not write in straight lines or be forced to write in complete sentences. This is a brainstorming activity that can be used as a pre-assessment or a review. Teachers may opt to have students rotate through several stations and either add to or review the work of their peers. (See Gallery Walk.)

Gallery Walk

Gallery walks typically take place following a graffiti write or other activity where students produce work to be reviewed by peers. Students visit stations in the room where student work is displayed and then have the opportunity to add to the information provided or to assess the information. Students are given ownership of their learning and an opportunity to review, reflect, and respond. (See Graffiti Write)

Quick Writes

The Quick Write is an assessment strategy that is designed to give students the opportunity to reflect upon their learning. This writing assignment can be used at the beginning, middle, or end of a lesson and takes only about three to five minutes. Short, open-ended statements are usually given. For example, students are asked to write about what they learned, problems they encountered, what they liked (or did not like) about the lesson, and about how well they understood the concepts. In content teaching, the integration of reading and writing reinforces meaning construction as both activities use similar processing skills. (Designed for math classes, as math requires students to continually think at higher levels as one skill is achieved, another is introduced.)


Originally a Sheltered Instructional (SIOP) strategy, Conga gives students the opportunity to become experts about a subject, concept, or topic. To begin the Conga, students create two equal lines facing one another. One line becomes the “speaking” line, and the other line becomes the “listening” line. When the teacher poses a question to the class, the speaking line members look at the partner directly across from them and answer the question. The teacher chooses a time to say, “Conga,” and then the speaking line shifts one person to the right. The last person on the end shifts down to the other end of the line. The speaking line students then provide their answer to the same question to the next person in line. This continues until the teacher changes questions. Eventually, the listening line becomes the speaking line so that all students have an opportunity to be the expert and to be the listener. This activity is great for formative assessment as the teacher can monitor student responses. Follow up questions such as, “Which question was most difficult to answer?” or “What did you learn that you didn’t already know?” or “What is still confusing to you?” can make this formative process beneficial to students. Plus, this activity is a structured way to provide student movement in your classroom.

Inner/Outer Circle

This is a review strategy that is great for our kinesthetic learners. Students create an inner circle and an outer circle facing each other. The number of students in each should be the same. Students in the inner circle will hold a two-sided handout. On one side will be a vocabulary term, and on the other side is a definition. The inner circle students hold up the word to the person in the outer circle. On the teacher’s command, the person in the outer circle provides the definition to the person in the inner circle. The teacher can decide whether or not the inner circle person provides the correct definition if the student misses. The students in the outer circle rotate on the teacher’s command until they are back where they began. Then, the teacher can allow inner circle students to switch with outer circle participants. He/She can also ask questions about which words were not missed or missed often to gain information about how to support student mastery.


This Sheltered Instructional strategy promotes literacy by allowing students to evaluate vocabulary words and concepts, make educated choices, and summarize. Students read a text and choose the X number of words they find in the text, as specified by the teacher, they deem most important. Then, students must write a one to three sentence summary of their passage, using as many chosen words as possible. Teachers can vary this assignment in many ways to differentiate for all learners.

Exit Tickets*

Also known as “Ticket out the Door,” this strategy also gauges student understanding of particular concepts, vocabulary words, Essential Questions, Clear Learning Targets etc. Specific questions or tasks are best to use with Exit Tickets. Although the teacher can create his/her own questions for Exit Tickets, here are some popular types of tickets:

+ Δ ?

After an lesson, reading, or activity, students complete the + Δ ? to share what they feel confident about, what they do not understand, and what questions they have. Teachers can use this strategy as an Exit Ticket, a Think-Pair-Share, or a formative assessment to inform instruction.

The Important Thing…

To gauge understanding of a particular concept, teachers can ask students to relate “the most important thing” about . Like + Δ ?,teachers can use this strategy as an Exit Ticket, a Think-Pair-Share, or a formative assessment to inform instruction.


The idea is to give students a chance to summarize key ideas and rethink them in order to focus on those that they are most intrigued by, and then pose a question that can reveal where their understanding is still uncertain. Often, teachers use this strategy in place of the usual worksheet questions on a chapter reading. When students come to class the next day, you're able to use their responses to modify your instruction. The students feel a sense of ownership because the discussion is based on the ideas they addressed in their 3-2-1.

Capture Your Thoughts

Capture students’ thoughts on four elements of your content of your choice. Use the template to ask students to respond to a passage, answer the Essential Question, list most important elements of a concept, list, or ask questions.

The Struble Technique

A few days before giving a major assessment, provide students with a copy of the test and a multiple-choice bubble sheet. Ask students to bubble “A” if they are 100% sure they can answer the question. Ask them to bubble “B” if they are not 100% sure they can respond correctly to the question. The teacher can disaggregate the data to create a plan to address student deficiencies. The teacher can also gauge his/her own instruction and evaluate where more/less time needs to be allotted when this concept is taught again.

Admit Slips

Admit Slips enable students to focus their attention on the reading and study planned for class by preparing responses, ideas, and questions that anticipate the reading for that day.

An Admit Slip should serve as a review and provide students an opportunity to provide their insight on a question or topic. Generally, a bell-ringer activity would follow the next day with a Think-Pair-Share activity or other activity where students would be able to share ideas on their Admit Slips. The teacher would have an opportunity to evaluate and clarify any misconceptions.

Connect Two*

Connect Two invites students to share the relationship between two vocabulary words in one sentence. This is another strategy that can be differentiated based on the level of the particular needs of the student. In one model, the teacher can provide pairs of words that the student will use together to write a sentence that demonstrates not only an understanding of the words but also makes clear the relationship between the two words. In a more advanced model, students gain choice of words as they are provided a list of vocabulary words and then choose words to pair together to complete the same activity. This strategy focuses on comprehension, relationships, literacy, and fluency.

FIT Sheets*

A F-I-T Sheet is an instrument that teachers use to assess reading comprehension, interpretive skills, and ability to make connections between content and real-life. Students share a (F) fact from their reading. The fact may be a passage, a summary or a portion of a reading, or a truth evident in an assignment. Then, the (I) interpret the significance of the fact. Students cannot choose a fact arbitrarily or there will be nothing to interpret. Finally, students write at (T) tie-in or connection to their own lives, history, or the real-world. Through these connections, our students become better readers and improve their literacy skills. (Nicholl, 1992)

What Else?

This strategy is wonderful to help alleviate some of that test anxiety students feel surrounding multiple-choice assessments. At the completion of the test, the students are able write any additional information about the topic that they want on the back of the test. Teachers can prompt students by writing a “What else?” question on the board. For instance, teachers could ask, “What do you know about the Underground Railroad that I did not ask about on the test?” This allows teachers to see what students are thinking about and what they valued from their learning experience.

“What I Know…” Sentences*

Students are provided with one or two vocabulary words and instructed to write as many sentences as they can about their words in the time provided. These students share their sentences. The entire class listens and words together to add to the information provided by the expert group. The teacher can ask coaching questions to get more information, clarify misconceptions, and facilitate this student-generated discussion. This is a great activity to use as a review before an assessment. Good sentences can be used as extra credit items, test questions, etc.


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