Starting the Year off Right: Formative Assessment Tools

Updated: Mar 29

By Shawna Audet


Starting off the year with formative assessment activities allows teachers to become knowledgeable about the individual learners in the class. I use the knowledge that I glean from my start of the year assessments to craft lessons that allow my students to use their strengths and to provide support for individuals who need it during activities that require them to complete tasks that – for a wide variety of reasons - they may find challenging.


Another benefit of formative assessment is that creates a classroom atmosphere of trust where the students feel that they are seen, valued, accepted by both the teacher and their classmates. I am providing you with a lesson that focuses on accessing prior personal knowledge, so every student in the class will be able to participate, secure in the knowledge that they won’t risk “getting it wrong.” This kind activity will help to create a positive atmosphere in the class, which will encourage students to take risks and participate.


The lesson plan that I have provided (before) was adapted from a lesson created by Linda Watson and Leyton Schnellert, which was published as part of their “Starting the Year with Significance” unit in It’s all About Thinking: Collaborating to Support Learners, by Faye Brownlie and Leyton Schnellert. Faye Brownlie is a superstar educator who taught me a great deal about formative assessment. I have also attached a PowerPoint that I use in the lesson when I model the activity for my students. In the PowerPoint, I complete the "Who am I?" worksheet questions and let the students ask me personal question as we go. It is a nice way to introduce myself to them and start building our relationship and trust.