Leveraging Technology to Unlock the POwer of Formative ASsessment

Formative assessment is all about improving teaching and learning. With demonstrated benefits, effective implementation means better classroom experiences for students. But doing so can be very time consuming for teachers.

Imagine, for a moment…

Ms. Allison asks her students to take out a smartphone or a classroom tablet or Chromebook, and then presents the class with a series of questions to which the students respond, sketching and gesturing on their devices, and an animated whole-class discussion unfolds.

The students know that Ms. Allison will be more interested in how they think about the problem and how they express their ideas than whether they just get the answer right. They know that she will choose work to share with the class, so they carefully annotate their work and look for creative approaches. Some write with digital ink, some write on paper and then capture their work with a camera, and some type formatted equations.

Meanwhile, Ms. Allison walks around the room having a few conversations with students. She carries a tablet with her, and on it sees thumbnails of student work evolving in real time. The software highlights the work, noting students who have forgotten a negative sign or made a mistake in expanding a squared term or have just gotten bogged down. From insights into individual student’s work, she is able to make informed decisions in real-time.

Please let me know when you publish more information on Formative Assessment in the Math Classroom!

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This is an example of technology-supported formative assessment at its best. Enabling the teacher to change and inform the arc of instruction to meet students where they are and help them get to where they are going. Well designed formative assessments provide teachers with data on their students’ performance in real-time, and they also increase students’ agency over their learning.

There is a gap, however, between the theory of formative assessment and the reality of implementing it in classrooms. We can close this gap by effectively leveraging technology to gather and process data, enable collaboration and provide insights into trends.

Woot Math Polls allows me to direct and individualize my instruction by giving me a way to quickly and easily evaluate students informally.

– A. Hone, Dual Credit Math Teacher, Texas


Existing classroom response systems that rely on closed-response tasks such as multiple choice questions are extremely limited in their ability to support formative assessment in the mathematics classroom. The need for constructed responses, proper notation and visual representations are critical in mathematics. In addition to these limitations, other systems often place focus on “getting to the right answer” and use “engagement” devices like leaderboards and time pressure that are known to be counterproductive to learning.

Being fast is not the same as being smart

– Jo Boaler

Students are frequently deterred from participating because of anxiety about not having the “right answer”. Woot Math supports classroom discussions  about strategies and ideas and de-emphasizes “getting the right answer.”

Woot Math Polls' ability to improve student discourse is perfect to help our teachers implement high quality Formative Assessment as a means for targeting student needed support.

– B. Orona, Math Instructional Specialist (Secondary), Colorado


Typically, formative assessment should not be tied to a grade. When the focus becomes the grade, teachers may become less likely to modify their instruction to meet the needs of their students.

When formative assessments are used to gauge student understanding, they can change the dialog in the classroom. Teachers are already running assessments. By slightly changing this focus, from summative assessment to formative assessment, space opens in the class for more productive conversations. And the best part? This “do now” approach is already being done. With a slight tweak, your teachers can get huge benefits.

What is powerful is how Woot Math allows teachers to facilitate rich and relevant conversations about student work in real time.

– C. Hoste, 8th grade math teacher


Standards-aligned, district-approved tasks are a critical component. For task development, Woot Math provides curriculum specialists a bank of high-quality tasks that they can import and modify along with a suite of tools – equation editor, table, graphing, etc – tailored for mathematics. The Woot Math creation interface enables teachers to quickly and efficiently create rich tasks, preview the tasks on a variety of devices, and share tasks for feedback.

Woot Math also provides teachers and students access to novel digital manipulatives designed to enable students to fully express their thinking through freehand drawing, data-tables, graphing, algebraic expression editors, a tool-embedded calculator, and rich text entry.

Woot Math also supports all devices. Teachers and students can leverage any device, whether it be Chromebook or tablet or smartphone. As student work is submitted, Woot Math provides the teacher with a dashboard to review individual work, add feedback, bookmark interesting work, and project student work to the whole class for discussion. Woot Math gives the teacher the ability to automatically group students for discussion, color-code student responses based on anticipated answers, and supports answer equivalence.

Woot Math Polls is a great way to assess students learning in a quick, effective way. My kids LOVE it! I've already made polls for a concept we are currently working on and it was very easy to do!

– S. Dixon, 3rd Grade Teacher


Balancing ease-of-use with rich capabilities can be a challenge for the platform provider and educator alike, and requires a scaffolded approach to training so that teachers can learn as they go. Hands-on training, sharing best practices, and familiarity with the platform are all helpful in getting a cohort of teachers up to speed.

Woot Math supports teachers’ planning around mathematical discussions. This pre-planning includes thinking through how the students might respond, what partial understandings or misunderstandings might show up, and then use of the platform to annotate student responses in a way that can be used to inform the direction of subsequent instruction.

Let’s return to our story of Ms. Allison…

During Ms. Allison’s planning for her class, she has configured the software to look for certain approaches that she thinks students might take to the problem. Ms. Allison is able to quickly scan the student responses and see that the software has identified some of the strategies that she anticipated, and also some student strategies and observations that she hadn’t thought of. She quickly drags a few tiles into a sequence that she uses in a discussion with the whole class.

She then uses the software to group her students into small groups for break-out discussions. While she has not yet revealed the correct answer, she asks her students to discuss the merits of each group members answer and come to a consensus.

By enabling my students to see that they are not alone in their math struggles and confusions, Woot Math promoted a more courageous attitude and turned mistakes into learning opportunities.

– S. Dixon, 3rd Grade Teacher

We know that implementing technology-driven formative assessments is a challenge. Woot Math is specifically designed to address these challenges and unlock the power of formative assessment for the math classroom. It was co-designed with practicing math teachers to ensure that it fully meets the needs of today’s classrooms and that all teachers can immediately jump in and benefit.