Snowballs in Science! Fun Formative Assessment

By Kathy Reeves
14 December, 2016


Since it's almost officially winter, it's the perfect time for snowballs in the classroom! When your students’ throwing paper snowballs allows you to collect useful formative assessment data, then I call that a WIN for everyone. This is how you can get started with this fun activity today.

Select a multiple choice question that focuses on the concept you are teaching.  Any of our Science Sidekicks and Science Starter lessons will provide you with multiple questions appropriate for this activity.  The sample question shown below is from our Science Sidekicks lesson on Adaptations.

On a sheet of paper, students record a selected answer and explain their thoughts and reasons for choosing that answer. Students won't write a name on the paper; they are more likely to share their ideas in an anonymous response. When students are finished recording their answers, the teacher will instruct them to wad the paper up to create a "snowball".  Then they will toss the snowballs around the room, continuing to catch and toss until instructed to stop.

At this point students should have a ball of paper that isn't their own. They will silently read the response, try to understand the point of view of the student who recorded the answer, and then prepare to defend that answer.  Divide the students into groups according to the answer they "caught" and give them time to compare and discuss the reasoning as if it were their own.  Remember that for the group discussion part of the activity, students will discuss the answer they caught, not the answer they recorded.

The group discussions are followed by a class discussion. Students can now express their own ideas and consider changing their original response.

Defending the point of view of another student requires a student to dig deeper into the concept. The added bonus is that it allows them to see that others may have different ideas with valid reasons to support their choice. This is a great opportunity for teachers to build a climate of respect for the opinions of others and to allow students to see that as we reason through the incorrect choices, we are better able to choose the best answer.

This activity is called “Commit and Toss” in Paige Keely's Science Formative Assessment. For another of her fabulous formative assessment ideas read Sticky Bars in the Science Classroom.

What is your favorite formative assessment activity? Leave me a note below!

Subscribe to our blog to receive more teaching tips and free downloads.

Check out the Science Sidekicks (grades 3-5), the Science Starters (grades 6-8), Biology Starters or Chemistry Starters with a Free Trial!

Science Sidekick Demo Lesson (grades 3-5)

Science Starter Demo Lesson (grades 6-8)

Biology Demo Lesson

Chemistry Demo Lesson

Request a Quote


Currently there are no comments
Back To Scientific Minds Home


To receive email notifications, enter your email address and click subscribe.We will never share your information.

Blog Search