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Tips for English Language Arts (ELA) Teachers!
Tips for English Language Arts (ELA) Teachers!

Read our tips for how to use Formative in your ELA classes

Rebecca Worden avatar
Written by Rebecca Worden
Updated over a week ago

Read on to find out our top tips for how to use different question types for Reading, Writing, Vocabulary, and Grammar, plus inspiring examples of formatives you can clone!

Using different question types to assess Reading

Here are some of our favorite question types to use for reading assessment!

🌟Drawing Question for reading

Students can type, underline, circle, and even upload images in a Drawing question. Teachers can likewise draw, type, and upload images to the background! Here are some of our favorite uses for reading:

  1. Upload a screenshot of a text to the background, and ask students to underline the main idea or annotate by typing in the margins.

  2. Upload an image of a graphic organizer about the text, and ask students to type in the fields after reading the text.

Using different question types to assess Writing

🌟Drawing for writing

As part of a pre-writing activity, you can upload an image of a graphic organizer to the Drawing background, and ask students to type in the fields.

🌟Free Response

The Free Response question type allows students to type a response at greater length. They can also use formatting in their response by highlighting some text, then choosing from the formatting options (bold, italicize, underline, numbers, bullet points, and headings!).

Tip 1: Upload an image of your grading rubric under the Free Response question, then use Multiple Choice questions to ask students to grade their Free Response in each area. As long as you don't set an answer key, you can grade each area as you want, and you'll have a record of how the student graded themselves to compare to.

Tip 2: Use a feedback message to explain your grading! If you're a Silver/Gold user, you can even use emojis, or record an audio message to send in your feedback!

Tip 3: Grade writing with a rubric to share results with students

Tip 4: If you're a Gold plan member, look for our anti-cheating alert to see when students have copied and pasted text into an answer

Using different question types to assess Vocabulary and Grammar


You can upload a screenshot of some text to the Drawing background, and ask students to circle or underline all the verbs / adjectives / appositive phrases (etc!).


Enhance your lessons by uploading a grammar or vocabulary video as a content item. Silver/Gold users can even embed a video directly within a question!

🌟Drag & Drop

Use Drag and Drop questions to create interactive word sorts to support vocabulary instruction

Silver/Gold users have access to even more features

🌟Audio Response and Video Response

Audio and video can be added to any formative as content, but with a Silver/Gold subscription, you can have your students send audio and video back as answers!

Audio Response and Video Response are great ways for students to practice fluency. You can upload an image of a text to your formative (or copy-and-paste it into a text block), then ask students to record themselves reading it aloud. Students can re-record as many times as they want!

Audio Response can also be a great way for students to brainstorm or record their thoughts before writing. Students can play the response they recorded as they write an answer to a Short Answer or Free Response question.

Students can also use Audio or Video Response to read their finished writing aloud - a great way for them to check how it sounds and catch errors!

Audio and Video Response Questions can also be used to capture student think-alouds as they analyze texts


Use the Categorize question type to have students match vocabulary terms with definitions, or categorize different examples of grammar items!

🌟Hot Text

Hot Text Questions can be useful when asking students to identify specific parts of a text, for example main idea and supporting details, or key words that identify text structure.

🌟Add Show Your Work to any question

Now you can create any question type and include a Show Your Work section. Have the final answer auto-graded and still see your students' thought processes!

📌Useful ELA sites that you can embed into your formatives

You can embed websites anywhere in a formative as a content item. Silver/Gold users can embed within a specific question. Check out our Embed article for instructions. 

Great ELA sites that embed into formatives include:



📌Great examples of ELA formatives

Check out these awesome formatives, created by other ELA educators! Click on the title to clone them to your dashboard, and you can edit and assign them to your classes!

🌟Reading comprehension templates: Fiction and Non-Fiction for 5th-10th grade; Fiction for 2nd-4th grade. These templates contain generic questions in every comprehension area, and you can easily adapt them to any specific text!

🌟Sample Rubric for Expository Essays (6th-10th grade): an example of a Free Response prompt and associated grading rubric activity.

🌟Recording thoughts while reading (2nd grade and up): a way for students to record thoughts, questions, and ideas they have while reading independently!

🌟Writing a paper, step by step: Step 1 and 2, Step 3, Step 4 (8th-12th grade): an example of how a teacher breaks down a major writing assignment.

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