Do you cringe when you read those two words? Do you immediately feel a headache coming on? Perhaps you have flashbacks of elementary school and taking the Iowa Basics? Then, you’re not alone. “Student Assessment” evokes unpleasant memories for many teachers and students, but it doesn’t have to!
If possible, can you push standardized tests to the back of your mind for a month? A week? A day? The challenge is to focus on types of “student assessment” in your classroom for five days then evaluate the week. Positive improvements should be seen by the end of the school week. Also, new and interesting ways to assess students’ learning will come from reflection.
There are many familiar ways to assess whether students comprehended lessons: presentations, homework assignments, tests, quizzes, and writing essays. For many teachers, these traditional methods are already part of lesson plans, but these are certainly not the only ways to assess learning.
Do you assess while you’re teaching? Try stopping after explaining several examples of concepts, such as grammar explanations. Then, ask students to show on a scale of 0-5 how well they grasped the information. Have students hold up fists (0- I have no clue what you’re talking about…what class am I in?) to 5 fingers (I could teach this concept to someone else.). This helps evaluate needs of students and allows for immediate changes or more explanations, if necessary.
Another assessment tool is to ask students at the end of a class period, “What did you learn in class today?” If students can give short answer responses then they got the lesson. Also, try passing out scrap paper and asking students to write “What I learned in class today” on one side with brief explanations below the statement. It takes only a few minutes to read through the comments between classes. This technique proves how comfortable students are with material covered for the day.
There are plenty of other unique ways that students’ learning can be assessed. Try brainstorming with colleagues about student assessment strategies. Teachers are creative people who are bound to find new assessment tools to use. By assessing learning through a variety of strategies on a daily basis, students will be ready for standardized testing when Spring rolls around.
Please, share with us some of your ideas about assessment...