Formative 5 Assessment Strategies Using CueThink

We are honored to have been recognized in the well-respected book on formative assessment by Francis (Skip) Fennell, Beth McCord Kobett and Jon Wray titled: Formative 5: Everyday Assessment Techniques for Every Math Classroom. In discussing ways to use technology for assessment, Formative 5 named CueThink as a “comprehensive tool designed to improve critical thinking and communications skills, while also serving to capture and share student representations, models, and solutions” (p.76).

CueThink supports each of Formative 5’s assessment strategies in your classroom.


Informal observation in the classroom is common for most teachers, but Formative 5 guides teachers to be intentional and proactive about what they look for in an observation. CueThink’s four-phase structured problem-solving process guides teachers in looking at how students solve rich mathematical problems by unpacking the question, planning a strategy, executing their strategy and then reflecting on the accuracy and effectiveness of their solution process. Thus, by focusing their observation on the phase that their students are working on, teachers can quickly discern students’ understanding of mathematical concepts as well as how effectively students are using mathematical practices.


Formative 5 explains that the purpose of a formative assessment interview is for the teacher to better understand the student’s thought process. Using CueThink, teachers can sit with students to watch and discuss a video vignette of a student’s solution, called a thinklet, together. Being able to see and hear how the problem was solved facilitates deeper conversations about how and why the student solved the problem they way they did. Additionally, because students love being able to watch peers’ work and give feedback, teachers can focus the discussion on either work created by the student being interviewed or a peer’s work. The ability to easily engage students in looking at a peer's work means that they can discuss a thinklet containing a common error or specific strategy. In summary, CueThink provides a digital portfolio of student artifacts from which teachers can structure their interviews.

Show Me

Having a student show and talk about how they solved the problem was noted in Formative 5 to be much more powerful than pencil and paper tests for improving both comprehension and instruction. Yet, teachers rarely have time to conference with individual students and discuss how he/she solved the problem. CueThink captures students’ written work and verbal explanations during the four-phase problem-solving process for teachers to view and revisit at any time. In this way, teachers are able to virtually sit beside each student to see and hear exactly how they solved the problem. The flexibility to virtually evaluate student work frees up instructional time for teachers to focus on monitoring the whole class, ask prompting questions and provide structured interventions.

Hinge Questions

The hinge question is designed for teachers to quickly assess students’ understanding of the lesson and inform their instruction based on those results. Once a teacher has a clear vision on students’ different understandings or misconceptions, they can use CueThink to personalize their instruction. CueThink’s problems can be cloned and customized to change the numbers or complexity of the problem to meet students’ varied needs. Problems can be assigned to subgroups of students. Teachers can also assign students to view and analyze an error containing thinklet to help them reflect on their own conceptual understanding.

Exit Tasks

“The exit task is a capstone problem or task that captures the major focus of the lesson for that day or perhaps the past several days and provides a sampling of student performance” (p.109). Fennell, Kobett and Wray explain that exit tasks allow students a chance to demonstrate their knowledge from which teachers can collect data to inform their instruction. Additionally, teachers can use Exit Tasks to give students specific feedback that will further their understanding. Within CueThink, teachers can choose from rich, curated tasks designed to foster the mathematical practices. Once students have demonstrated their knowledge within the four phases of problem-solving, teachers can use an embedded rubric and rubric summary page to evaluate their students’ work and identify trends. While assessing their students’ work, teachers can easily provide both public and private feedback in the form of embedded annotations. All work is digitally saved creating a virtual portfolio of both students’ learning and teachers’ feedback.   

try these assessment strategies with your students

CueThink offers a pilot program, in which an administrator, 5-10 teachers, and all their students receive full access to CueThink’s structured problem-solving application and embedded CueTeach assessment and professional learning tools. Pilots include training and support provided by CueThink Implementation Specialists. Contact Donna Gardner, Director of School Partnerships, at for more information.


Fennell, Francis; Kobett, Beth McCord; Wray, Jon A.. The Formative 5: Everyday Assessment Techniques for Every Math Classroom (Corwin Mathematics Series) SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.”