Fifty Two Fist

Fifty two fist is a formative assessment tool I use.  It began as a way to  resolve an issue I was having with the mystery of the raised hand. I prefer students to raise their hand in my class when responding or asking a question. A raised hand, however, is not very informative.

Imagine you are about to get to that aha moment. The student who has been silent all class suddenly has their hand up. The moment of truth comes and you call on the student. That’s when the whole class comes to a stop for the question “can I go to the bathroom.” What does a raised hand really mean?

I have also found that students will let one or two students do the heavy lifting. It does not matter if the students with their hands down know the answer or not. It is just easier to sit back and watch the action.

I wanted a way to get every student to participate without having to buy anything, make any cards or craft every question to a multiple choice prompt. I have been working on formative assessment in my district and decided to try a variation of five to fist*. Thus I came up with fifty two fist.

When I ask a question in class I have all my students raise their hand. They have been directed to put up 5 fingers if they know the answer and want to answer, two fingers if they know the answer but don’t want to answer and a fist if they don’t know. I have found this beneficial because I can see visually what the students believe they understand. It also eliminates being able to sit back and watch as every student has to participate.  I have seen students who use to put up two now put up five.  I have been able to redirect my instruction to best fit the needs of my class.

Give it a try in your class and let me know here what you think.

*Five to fist is a visual 6 point agree or disagree scale. Each finger raised demonstrates how strongly the student agrees with the prompt.


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  1. Peg Hartwig said:

    Nice share .. I’ll raise a 5 on this approach with my kids!

  2. DiAnne Galm said:

    High Five! Love this! Can’t wait to try it with my classes.

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