At MasteryConnect, we believe that assessments should be used to improve instruction and learning—but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. In fact, getting creative with how you assess your students can significantly improve the assessment culture at your school and reduce the stress associated with “testing”. Keep reading to learn more about five of our favorite formative assessment strategies that can be used for any subject or grade level.
 

#1 Commit and Toss

This activity is sure to get students more engaged in class discussions with an interactive take on answering prompts.

  • Ask your students to respond in writing to a question or prompt.
  • Crumple up the responses and have students toss them across the room or into an empty box.
  • Ask students to go around the room and collect one of the responses (students should notify the teacher if they receive their own).
  • Ask each student to comment on the response they received. They can elaborate, agree, disagree, or add to the idea to engage in the class discussion.

 

#2 List, Group, Label

This activity provides a way for students to identify relationships between words and concepts.

  • Pick a topic, any topic.
  • Have students brainstorm and list words or ideas related to that topic.
  • Break students up into small groups and ask them to group the words by theme or concept.
  • Ask students to discuss their reasoning behind how they grouped the words and label each group based on their findings.

 

#3 Agreement Circles

Encourage your students to pick a side and defend their argument with this interactive exercise!

  • Ask students to form a large circle.
  • Read a statement to them aloud, then give them a few moments to decide if they agree or disagree with the statement.
  • Ask students to move to the center of the circle if they agree with the statement, and stay on the outside if they disagree.
  • Split students up into small groups containing equal proportions with differing points of view on the subject and give them a few minutes to defend their views.
  • Now that they’ve had a chance to discuss both sides of the argument, ask them to come back to the center and reposition themselves in the big circle according to their current opinion.

 

#4 Think-Pair-Share

Students reflect on a question, reading, or task, then write a response down to share and debate with a partner. This strategy can be paired with the Jigsaw strategy in which students read different writings and reflect or sum up what they read, then pair with a partner to compare, compile, or contrast these writings.

  • Students respond to a question or task by thinking about it and writing their responses.
  • Students pair up to share their responses. Together, partners decide on a best response or they collaborate to create a shared response.
  • Student pairs then share their responses in a whole-class discussion.
  • Repeat steps two and three as many times as the lesson calls for and time allows. Though once is adequate to complete the activity, repeating the activity (optional) with new partners may be ideal in some situations.

 

#5 Three-Two-One

This can be used as a comprehension exercise or an exit ticket. Ask students the following questions:

  • What are three things you learned?
  • What are two questions you still have?
  • What is one thing you found interesting?

This exercise encourages students to reflect on what they just learned, while also showing educators the information that stuck and the areas that could use more attention.

 
Have a favorite formative assessment strategy of your own? Share your ideas with us on our social channels!

 

Don’t get us wrong—we think there’s a place for a good bubble sheet now and again. But as assessment strategies continue to expand and change, so do the possibilities for incorporating performance-based assessments in the classroom. Performance-based assessment requires students to demonstrate and apply specific knowledge or skills, fostering deeper understanding and retention of their learning.

We asked our team of Regional Education Consultants, who are all former educators, to share their advice on how to make performance-based assessments most effective. Here are three best practices on which they all agreed.

#1 Keep it Aligned

Start by identifying your goals. What do you want to measure? How do you intend to measure it? The key to a successful assessment is ensuring that it has been properly aligned to your specific standards.

Writing the standard in a clear, concise “I Can” statement can not only help you to tightly align the standard with the correct skill, it also communicates to students on what they should know and how you will evaluate them. Once you have a clear picture of what students know and don’t know, you can provide additional support to close that gap.

Many resources exist to help you dial in on the specific standards for your subject and grade level. Check with your district for support materials, collaborate in your PLC, or use online tools specifically designed for standards-based education (like the MasteryConnect State Apps and Resource Pins.)

#2 Keep The Feedback Flowing

The sooner a student receives feedback, the more likely it is to have a positive impact on learning. Some summative assessments, typically administered at the end of an instructional period, often don’t communicate to students about their progress until days, weeks, or even months down the road. However, performance-based assessments often create instant opportunities to provide feedback and start a dialogue with students about their own learning.

When you provide students with immediate feedback as soon as learning happens, students have a greater understanding of where they are and where they need to be. During a performance, students may be asked to explain why they made certain decisions or even re-attempt to show mastery of a skill.

Be sure to keep the feedback relevant with clear steps for students to progress toward learning targets. Quickly address any misconceptions, so students can correct it before moving onto new skills. But, perhaps most importantly, provide comments that explain your feedback in detail so students understand how to improve.

#3 Continue Self-Evaluating

Meaningful assessment provides the opportunity for both the student and the teacher to reflect on learning. For the teacher, this involves reflecting on what’s happening in the classroom, then making appropriate instructional adjustments and interventions to improve student outcomes. For the student, this means analyzing individual learning and setting goals for future growth.

As you know, teachers are always learning how to best support their students. What worked for one student may not work for another, and you have to be willing to try something new. When we have a clear picture of what students know and don’t know, we have the opportunity to revise our instructional approach and try again.

Ideas for Performance-Based Assessment

Now that we’ve covered what makes performance-based assessment work, here are a few ideas for performance-based assessment you can try in your classroom!

Presentations give students the opportunity to teach a skill, report on a topic, or persuade others.

  • Teach the Class – Teach a lesson to the class by presenting on an assigned topic.
  • Data Project – Gather, analyze and interpret data to the class.
  • Book Report – Present on key themes, characters, and settings from an assigned reading.

Multimedia Projects allow students to be creative and develop an understanding of different mediums and platforms.

  • Video Series – Create a how-to video series.
  • Podcast Series – Host a podcast series on a topic relevant to the course.
  • Blog Series – Design a blog and self-publish a collection of writing samples.

Group Projects promote working collaboratively and developing interpersonal skills that will be valuable throughout a student’s education and career.

  • Campaign building – Create and build deliverables for a marketing campaign.
  • Research project – Divide and conquer on an assigned research topic.
  • Organize an event – Create an event plan for a school-related event, assigning specific roles.

We would love to hear how you are using performance-based assessment to identify student levels of understanding in your classroom. Tweet to @MasteryConnect to share your best ideas.