Quick Formative Assessments: Essay Thesis Statements

In an earlier post, I showed you how Google docs can be used to formatively assess student writing.

My students are now writing literary essays. Following lessons on finding the “big idea” of a short story (character analysis + “most important sentence” analysis and multiple literature letters), I asked the students the following question: What is the story REALLY about?.

Whatever the story is really about can be translated into a thesis statement. When students believe they know the “big idea”, I invite them to check their email and fill out a Google form.

Background on Google forms:

Next, I need to quickly assess whether or not students are formulating clear thesis statements. I use the formative assessment to quickly sort students into reteaching groups. In this case, student groupings are not random. Rather, student groupings are based on student needs.

Here is a talk-through of what I notice about my students’ thesis statements:

The same formative assessment could be done without technology by asking students to write their thesis statements on note cards and sorting accordingly. Total amount of time needed for assessment: less than 10 minutes.

Next steps:

  • Either my teaching partner or I take the “yellow” group to discuss the next lesson on topic sentences. Alternately, this yellow group might become “experts”, helping the “green” group  better refine their statements.
  • My teaching partner, the learning specialist, or I split the red group into smaller groups to review character traits and “bigger themes” within students’ short stories.

In what ways might you use Google Forms as formative assessment?

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8 thoughts on “Quick Formative Assessments: Essay Thesis Statements

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