Throughout my time as a teacher, I found traffic lights to be an invaluable resource for assessing my pupils’ understanding throughout each lesson. They are really easy for all the class to understand and can be used in a variety of ways.

Here, I’ve put together my top three traffic light assessments that you can use in the classroom:

Table cups

A great resource to use during quiet independent tasks. These table cups enable students to communicate with the teacher without putting their hand up. It also means that at all times of the task, the teacher knows exactly which students they need to keep an eye on, and those who can continue working independently. The cups are placed in the middle of the table and either individuals or groups can select a cup to represent where they’re at in terms of understanding. Red means ‘I don’t understand’, amber means ‘I’m not sure’ and green means ‘I understand fully’.


Handing in trays

This is an easy and simple way for students to communicate with you as the teacher when they hand in their exercise books. All they need to do is place their books in one of the coloured trays depending on their understanding of the task. This is extremely helpful when you want to quickly assess how many of the students are still struggling and need some extra support before the next lesson.


Color coded stickers

This assessment asks students to place stickers next to each piece of their work in their exercise book to indicate their confidence level and is a really effective self-assessment tool using traffic lights. The pupils enjoy doing it, and it means that the teacher knows exactly how well they have understood each lesson and can easily keep track of their progress throughout the term.



Spiral’s Quickfire has a super new feature where you can upload pictures and ask your students to annotate on their devices. I like to upload a picture of traffic lights and use it either as a starter or plenary to help the pupils to self-assess their work.


Lastly, traffic lights aren’t just limited to self-assessment. I have found them to be a great tool for communicating with my class during activities in class as well. For example, this poster is useful to help pupils keep track of their noise levels in the classroom. This could be particularly handy when pupils are completing group work or Team Up tasks in groups.


To access the full-size printable version for your classroom click here.


Do you have any other suggestions for how traffic lights can be used in the classroom?

If so, get in contact via our Twitter page @SpiralEducation – we would love to hear from you!