Video: Using the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) for Formative Assessment

This video shows how the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) may be used to formatively assess students’ understanding of a concept or their knowledge of a topic. Educators can use the QFT to formatively assess their students at the beginning of a unit (as seen in this video), in the middle of the unit, and towards the end of the unit. There are other creative ways to use the QFT, including summative assessment (see: Making Questions Flow to read more about how to use students’ questions).

Lucy Canotas, a 4th grade teacher in Manchester, NH, is shown using the QFT for formative assessment purposes. “I’m interested to see what they can bring as questions to make me understand where they’re still stuck or what they still don’t know.” To elicit students’ questions about fractions, she designed a visual Question Focus (QFocus). She found that using the students’ questions and work helped her better understand what students knew about this mathematical concept. Watch the video to see each step of the QFT in an elementary school class, and learn more from Lucy and her students about how the QFT yields invaluable information for teachers as they fine tune their lessons and instruction.


  1. Nick Bertani says:


    I sat in on your pre-conference session in Vancouver at The Learning Forward Conference a couple of weeks ago. I am a literacy specialist in the suburbs of Chicago and just did a model lesson using QFT in a 5th grade classroom based on a picture from Pearl Harbor from a short Time for Kids magazine article. The kids enjoyed it and I was shocked from our 15 questions that questions 1-3 per top priority (I thought it would be further down the list). Anyways I plan to roll it out to some other classes/grades/subjects in the near future. Enjoy the holiday and thanks for the new idea.

  2. Celia Whitler says:

    Just went to PD to learn this technique…I am thrilled to implement this in the fall. I taught first graders last year upon returning to the classroom and we used a variety of questioning tools. I am excited to share this process and see it’s value with all grades! My class will eat this up!
    Thank you for this!
    Celia Whitler
    First grade, Franklin, TN

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