Formative Assessment?

We were recently going to do an activity that involved finding the formula for the sum of the interior angles in a polygon.

This required that they know that a few terms beforehand. I wanted a quick way to check their prior knowledge. I didn’t want to do a worksheet. I didn’t want to give a quiz.

So we played Simon Says.

Simon says stand up and face the front of the room.

Turn 90 degrees to the right.

Gotcha, I didn’t say Simon Says.

Simon says turn 180 degrees.

Okay, now face the front of the room (only got one or two that time).

Simon says turn an obtuse angle.

… you get the idea. Toss a few fun things in there too. Like: Simon says hop on your left foot.

We laughed. They moved around a bit. And I knew exactly which terms I needed to review prior to beginning our activity.

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9 Responses to Formative Assessment?

  1. Sarah says:

    That’s an awesome “pretest,” Jackie! Love how informal assessments can be.

    • Stirling says:

      Love the idea! You probably got the kids excited about the lesson as well. Kids probably find thought it was not uncool to remember their terms as it meant they’d win the game. Did kids stay on task throughout – even the ones who were out? How many students were in the class?

  2. This is definitely an example of an informal formative assessment. Nice work! Looking forward to a follow-up post on how you may have changed your instruction as a result of this activity.

  3. Ben Wildeboer says:

    Love it. Who says formative assessments have to be formal (or even written). The best part: the students didn’t even realize you were assessing them. Whenever you can make the assessment process invisible yet informative, you’re doing something right.

  4. David Cox says:

    And they didn’t ask if they were gonna get points? Fantastic!

  5. Jackie says:

    No one was ever “out” Stirling and no one won. They seemed to be okay with that.

    Matt The only term we needed to review was “obtuse” (they all knew it was more than 90 degrees, the less than 180 part was iffy). Had there been more that they didn’t know, I would have written the terms around the room (I have 3 walls of whiteboard in this class) and called on people to go up and write an example and/or a definition. Those who didn’t know could “use a lifeline” and ask someone in class for help – but they still would need to write something. Then we would have discussed, debated and made corrections as necessary.

    David, no one asked for points or extra credit or candy or… hey, that is kinda surprising for freshmen. Yay them!

  6. Eyawn says:

    Awesome activity! Fits perfect w/ freshmen energy too. I’ll definitely pull it out at some point w/ my own kids.

  7. Pingback: Math Teachers at Play #20 « Let's Play Math!

  8. Riley says:

    What a great idea! At my summer camp we play “Simon Says _please_,” in which you only follow the instruction of simon says, well, please. I wonder if there’s some way to add more levels to this game to get at more kinds of review – only follow instructions if some statement is true, or something like that. Maybe it’s better to leave it simple!

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