Category Archive : Summer Learning

Closing the Gap: Empowering Students for Future Success through Formative Assessment Strategies

Marketing Team, July 2023, 8 min read

With so much heated debate over the concept of teaching to the test, it almost seems counterintuitive to ask teachers to assess their students even more. However, assessments are the only way to discover if students are actually learning anything, and when done correctly, they can really help students think and grow.

Who says that an assessment has to be boring, tedious, and stressful to actually mean something?

Formative assessments are anything but those things. They can even be quite fun. And in most cases, students don’t even realize that they’re being assessed in the first place, so they stay relaxed and engaged in class—showing off the new knowledge and skills they’ve recently come to know.

What is Formative Assessment

Forget those end-of-unit tests or semester portfolios. Formative assessments include a variety of different activities that take place while students are actually learning, and they provide helpful and immediate feedback that educators can then use to inform their teaching as it happens.

Unlike summative assessments, which test student knowledge after learning has already taken place, formative assessments are more of a low-stakes strategy to see where students are at each day. They basically tell teachers whether it’s time to reteach information in a new way, clarify it, or move on to something else.

Benefits of Formative Assessment

The benefits of formative assessment are many, making it a powerful tool that teachers can use to reach each student individually and improve the overall success rate in their classrooms. By continuously monitoring student learning and providing helpful feedback in real-time, formative assessment strategies help teachers challenge their students in new and creative ways so that they can find academic success all year long.

Here are the top four benefits of using formative assessment strategies regularly in the classroom:

  1. They increase student engagement and motivation to learn.
  2. They enhance student understanding and retention of new information.
  3. They assist teachers in providing personalized feedback and targeted instruction.
  4. They allow for the identification of learning gaps and suggest areas for improvement.

Once daily formative assessment strategies are implemented in the classroom, both teachers and students enjoy the perks right away.


Formative Assessment Strategies

There are tons of different options when it comes to administering formative assessment strategies in the classroom. And the more variety that’s offered, the greater the chance teachers have to reach each of their students throughout the week—letting them shine in the ways that come most naturally to them.

The very best part is that implementing new formative assessment strategies is just plain fun. This is a chance to get those creative juices flowing in the classroom and see where imagination can come into play.

Using the four prominent learning styles as a guide, teachers can utilize any of the well-known formative assessment strategies out there, tailoring them as needed to meet the needs of their particular students, or they can create their own.

Formative Assessment Ideas

Here are twelve formative assessment ideas anyone can use in the classroom organized by the prominent learning style they fall under.


  1. Pictionary
    Set a timer and provide students with a word or concept they’ve been learning in class. Students will then draw a visual representation of that word or concept before the timer runs out.
  2. Affinity Maps
    Prepare a designated space on a whiteboard or poster board with a word, phrase, or question. Next, have each student use a colored marker or sticky note to contribute something to the affinity map as a group.
  3. Graphic Organizers
    Ask students to complete a graphic organizer using what they’ve learned in class that day. Mix it up by using KWL charts, sequence maps, Venn diagrams, and other graphic organizers throughout the week.


  1. Popsicle Sticks
    Have students write their names on a popsicle stick that you keep in a jar. While asking questions in class, draw a popsicle stick, and have that student answer the question aloud for all to hear.
  2. Fishbowl Discussions
    Place students into two groups: an inner and outer circle. Task the students in the inner circle with having a discussion about a predetermined topic and the students in the outer circle with listening and taking notes.
  3. Socratic Seminars
    Arrange all students in a circle with the teacher remaining outside of it. Students will then host a formal discussion among each other regarding a pre-selected topic while the teacher moderates the discussion by asking open-ended questions.

Reading & Writing

  1. Think-Pair-Share
    Start off a Think-Pair-Share by posing a question in class. Students will then write down their answers independently, pair off with a partner to discuss their answers, then share their answers in class one pair at a time.
  2. White Boards
    With small white boards sitting on their desks, students can write down their answers to questions asked in class, hold them up for the teacher to review, then erase them and prepare for the next question.
  3. Entrance/Exit Tickets
    Entrance and exit tickets are a quick and easy way to assess student knowledge prior to teaching a lesson or just after teaching one. Simply ask a question and have students write it down on a notecard or piece of paper to hand in.


  1. Hand Signals
    Using hand signals is a no-prep way to make sure students are engaged in class and learning new material. Just ask students to give a thumbs up if they fully understand a new concept, a sideways thumb if they still have questions or need more practice, or a thumbs down if they feel totally lost.
  2. Beach Balls
    Get your students moving while they learn by having them sit on the floor or stand up at their desk, asking them a question, then throwing a beach ball to them. Whoever catches it answers the question then throws the ball to another student to add more information or back to the teacher for a new question.
  3. Response Cards
    With pre-made cards already on their desks, ask students if they understand the new material and have them hold up one of their cards in response. The cards can have yes, no, or unsure answers on them, a green, red, or yellow traffic light, or even emojis on them to illustrate how they’re currently feeling.

7 Tips for Creating Engaging Summer Enrichment Activities

Educational studies have proven time and time again that learning loss is a real phenomenon.

In just a few short months away from the classroom, many students experience that dreaded summer slide for themselves. Of course, once they return to school in fall, they’ll have to spend several weeks relearning previous skills just to catch back up. And that’s a huge waste of time for both teachers and students who could be working on new skills right away during the upcoming school year.

Fortunately, summer learning loss and constant reteaching year after year are not inevitable occurrences. When students are given quality instruction during the summer months and provided with comprehensive learning materials for enrichment purposes, they can actually start the new school year off ahead—ready and willing to learn from day one.

To help your students make the most of summer vacation this year, it’s imperative that you provide them with enrichment activities that keep them engaged and working continuously on the mastery of grade-level standards. And here are 7 tips that can help you do just that.

How to Create Engaging Summer Activities

1. Work Backwards

The most important step in creating engaging summer activities that students find success with is to start by working backwards. Ask yourself where you would like your students to be by the end of the summer, the end of the month, the end of the week, and the end of the day. Doing so will help you narrow down which standards, in particular, your students should master right now.

2. Build Upwards

Looking at where your students are now and which standards you’re going to target next is the precursor to building upwards. Similar to taking baby steps, scaffolding will allow you to break up skill development tasks into smaller, easier-to-manage chunks that your students can complete successfully.

3. Think Variety

No matter how fun your summer enrichment plans are, students won’t want to complete the same tasks over and over again. So build in a lot of variety with a combination of hands-on activities and digital learning opportunities. You can also break up monotony with whole class, small group, and intervention pairings.

4. Tap Into Student Interests

Students are naturally drawn to the topics that interest them most and the different types of reward systems you put into play. Designing enrichment activities around these student interests increases their engagement level and encourages a higher academic result.

5. Utilize the I Do, We Do, You Do Model

Using the I Do, We Do, You Do teaching model helps students gain confidence in their own ability to try something new. As you demonstrate the skill for them, practice the skill with them, then provide feedback as they practice the skill on their own, they learn far more than they would without this perceived safety net.

6. Use Assessments Wisely

Assessments are a teacher’s best friend because they provide important data which you can then use to pivot in any direction based on your students’ current needs. By using assessments wisely in class, you can discover what level your students are at now, how they compare to other students in their grade level, whether or not they understand today’s lesson, and how much learning took place during a unit.

7. Review What You Already Have

Designing the perfect summer enrichment activities for your students doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel. Many of the lesson plans you already have will work just fine—either as stand alone activities or in conjunction with others.

Child on slide

Academic Success with Measuring Up Products

Having a comprehensive and well-designed curriculum at your fingertips will go a long way toward creating summer enrichment activities that engage students in their learning.

The Measuring Up line of products from Mastery Education is one such curriculum that pairs incredibly well with summer enrichment programs and integrates with any curriculum you already have. Having these products at your disposal will make building summer enrichment units all the more easy.

Measuring Up Reach are instructional ebooks that are customized by location. They provide lessons based on specific grade-level standards in your particular state, which helps you work backwards in your planning. They also come with built-in scaffolding, so building upwards becomes a much simpler process. Plus, each of the included lessons are blended learning opportunities which can be taught as whole class, small group, or intervention, creating a sense of variety.

Measuring Up MyQuest is the online portal for students. Full of activities based on interesting topics, Measuring Up MyQuest also takes gamification to a whole new level with rewards tokens, leader boards, and other built-in fun. The practice activities found therein are also designed around gradual release and are adaptive in nature, providing corrective feedback as students work.

Lastly, Measuring Up Insight is the assessment component. With plenty of pre and post assessments to choose from, as well as exit tickets and state practice tests, teachers can quickly gather important data on all of their students.

Summer Enrichment Activities for Students

With the right guidance and materials, students can find academic success each school year—without losing ground over summer. Enrichment activities are meant to integrate with your current curriculum and do so in a fun way that excites kids and keeps them learning. And using high-quality, targeted instructional materials, like Measuring Up, make it easy for both teachers and students to make that happen.

Summer Learning Narrows the Achievement Gap

Summer is almost here. For many, it’s a time to relax and leave schoolwork worries behind. However, by the time school starts up again in the fall, many students will have forgotten a good percentage of what they learned the previous year. Looking just at mathematics, most students lose about two months of grade-level efficiency in mathematical equivalency skills over the summer months, according to an often-cited study by Cooper, Nye, Charleston, and Greathouse.[1] Lower income students and English learners lose even more skills than their peers.


Many schools encourage students to continue reading during the summer months to prevent learning loss. However, according to an article published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the loss of math skills over the summer is even greater than that in reading proficiency. Harvard faculty member Joanna Christodoulou explains why: most parents have been encouraged to utilize reading in everyday life with their children, but they tend not to integrate math in the same way. She argues, “…it is easy to overlook the presence of math in everyday activities, like measurement in cooking, calculation when dealing with money, or distance while driving.”[2] With this research in mind, it’s easy to see why students start school each fall at a deficit.


To complicate the issue further, summer learning loss also impacts test scores and preparedness, and this achievement gap widens when you compare results between middle class and disadvantaged students. By the ninth grade, two thirds of this gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities in the elementary grades. Many of these students move on to higher grades at a deficit, where they tend to be placed into lower-level classes, thus becoming more likely to drop out, and are less likely to attend college or be career ready.


The solution is summer learning. But what does that mean? Summer learning does not necessarily have to equal summer school in the traditional sense. For students who don’t have access to traditional summer learning programs, we can offer alternative, positive methods to promote learning, especially for struggling students. According to the Wallace Foundation, strategies for preventing summer learning loss include identifying effective summer learning programs and approaches, replicating these effective programs, or even establishing extended-year or year-round schools that incorporate practices and approaches from effective summer learning programs.[3]


Summer learning programs that accomplish meaningful goals have a few things in common:

  • They engage students in recreational and enrichment activities, as well as activities focused on building positive relationships with peers and adults.
  • They blend remediation with enrichment activities and more advanced curricula.
  • They are attended by students of varied skill levels.
  • They are voluntary and take place over a full day.[4]

When programs are designed with these fundamentals in mind and communities support the whole child for the whole year, students thrive. High-quality summer learning programs improve academic skills as well as motivation and relationships. Effective summer learning can be cost-effective and extremely targeted by using tools such as the Measuring Up Live 2.0 program or the Measuring Up instructional worktexts. While Measuring Up Live pinpoints gaps in student knowledge and provides adaptive practice to target learning standards deficiencies, the print instructional worktexts provide educators with the skills and standards knowledge to narrow the learning gap.

Measuring Up from Mastery Education provides supplemental instructional and practice materials that are standards-based to meet the state assessments. To learn more about how Measuring Up can work with your summer school curriculum, visit

[1]  “The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: A Narrative and Meta-Analytic Review,” by Cooper, H., Nye, B., Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., and Greathouse, S. Review of Educational Research, 66: 227-268, 1996.

[2] “Summer Math Loss: Why Kids Lose Math Knowledge, and How Families Can Act to Counteract,” by Schafer, Leah. Harvard Graduate School of Education:, June 24, 2016.



Summer Learning Loss and Assessment

As summer is almost here, how are you ensuring your students don’t fall behind? Take a look at this handy infographic for some information on Summer Learning Loss and Assessment.


Learn More about Measuring Up

Learn more about the Measuring Up blended solution at