Teachers are accountable for so much in the course of a day, it helps if you can juggle or even pull a rabbit or two out of a hat to achieve your goals. We put our heads together to come up with the Top Ten Assessment Strategies that teachers can efficiently use in their classrooms every day. There’s no hocus-pocus necessary, and the results are magical:
#10. Cooperative Learning Activities
Cooperative learning involves students working together in small groups (usually followed by a teacher-presented lesson), with group goals and individual accountability. Although this is a very challenging assessment, you can mitigate the problem of one teacher versus several small groups by assigning roles and having group members evaluate each other’s performance. Students discover 1) how to help another student without just giving the answer; and 2) the importance of working together toward a common goal. Here are some great hints from the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University.
#9. Learning Logs
A learning log is a lot like a journal that allows students to write across the curriculum. The major reason for using them is to encourage children to be in control of their own learning and to promote thinking through writing.
#8. Book Response Journals
Very similar to a learning log, the book response journal is a place for students to share personal reactions to events, themes, and ideas in a book. Children are encouraged to react to everything they read. Teachers may use these journals to respond to each child individually, sharing their questions, feelings, and ideas about literature and making suggestions for further reading or related activities.
#7. Comparison Charts
Comparison charts are just one example of a number of “graphic organizers” or “mind maps” teachers can use. They offer students the ability to visually examine the similarities and differences among ideas, events, characteristics, etc. It is an excellent, creative way to engage students individually or in groups. But you must first allow students to get comfortable using graphic organizers as a way to take notes and organize information which they know. Then, as an assessment, a blank graphic can be provided with places for students to fill in the required information. Some great examples of this are timelines in Social Studies and lifecycles in Science.
#6. Graffiti Walls
Graffiti Walls could be used as an informal, full class assessment of class knowledge on a particular topic. They are unrestricted, boundary-less spaces for brainstorming or communicating words, phrases, or ideas on a topic. A teacher may use them for brainstorming about a theme at the beginning of a unit, or for encouraging students to add new words or phrases relating to the theme as the unit progresses. The graffiti wall serves as a class dictionary/thesaurus as students search for new or unique words to enrich their writing.
Conferences, if coupled with some sort of checklist or rubric, can be great assessment tools. This is especially true if the conference is about students’ work, such as a portfolio conference. A one-on-one conference in which the student explains what pieces of work are to be included in the portfolio can be a particularly rich source of data.
#4. "I Learned" Statements
"I Learned" statements may be in either written or oral form. Their purpose is to simply give students a chance to self-select one or more of the things they learned during a class session, an investigation, or a series of lessons.
#3. Oral Attitude Surveys
Attitude surveys systematically reveal students' self reflections regarding group and individual performance and affective characteristics such as effort, values, and interest. Impromptu oral surveys allow students to share their ideas, learn from others, and deepen the way they think about the topics being discussed. Any of these full class assessments are most helpful if the teacher has some organized way to track who said what. Index cards on a ring can do that—one card for every child. A student could run the discussion, or an aide or parent could take notes on the cards. At the end of the day, week, or unit, the cards can be separated, reviewed for patterns of learning and placed in the students’ individual files.
An invaluable part of alternative assessment is having the student learn to recognize his/her own progress by taking the time to reflect. Those who are able to review their own performance, explain the reasons for choosing the processes they used, and identify the next step, develop insight and self-involvement.
And the number one Assessment Strategy for K-12 Teachers to employ in their classroom is…
Setting goals with even the youngest children provides a base-line for monitoring student performance through collaboration and self reflection. Robert Wood and Edwin Locke (1987) found a significant relationship between goals and self-efficacy: Students with a stronger sense of efficacy also set higher, but reachable, goals. Wood and Locke found that more challenging goals usually prompt higher achievement.
See for yourself how goal-setting makes a difference in oral reading fluency at Marygrove MAT’s mini-master class: “D.I.B.E.L.S., Does It Benefit Early Learners to Set Goals?” with Christina Bainbridge, MAT ‘09 Saturday, Dec. 10 at 12:30 p.m., EST. Click here to register for our free, online webinar!