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.

 

Summer may be over, but there is still plenty to celebrate. The MasteryConnect team has been working hard all summer on nine new features so you can go back to school in style!

This year you’ll get great new features that make it even easier to do two things more effectively:

  1. Create quality assessments that improve both teaching and learning.
  2. Organize your data in ways that make it more accessible and actionable for you.

We like to see each MasteryConnect feature as a “problem-solver”. Keep reading to see how we’ve identified nine common problems in the classroom and solved them with a shiny, new feature just in time for the new school year.

 

Better Assessment Tools
 

Desmos Calculators

The problem: The $100 graphing calculator should be a relic of a bygone era rather than a necessity, but students still need a way to graph functions, plot data and evaluate equations while taking a math assessment.

The solution: Adding Desmos calculators to MasteryConnect allows students to show their work using the four-function, scientific, and graphing calculators, and provides them with a familiar experience come testing season. It’s not just students that will love it, though. Teachers can author TEIs with graphing capabilities or add a calculator to any item-based question, making it easier than ever to build quality formative math assessments.

Learn more about adding integrated Desmos calendars to MasteryConnect.


 

LockDown Browser


 

The problem: When students take online assessments, it can be hard to determine if they are working independently to find their answers or if they just have superior internet-search skills.

The solution: LockDown Browser makes it possible to create and deliver online assessments with full confidence that you are providing a valid and secure assessment experience for all students.

If you’re an administrator who would like to activate LockDown Browsers, contact your Regional Education Consultant to learn more.


 

Multi-Select Multiple Choice
 

 

The problem: Sometimes there are two (or three) right answers to a question on a paper-and-pencil assessment, but GradeCam will only recognize one.

The solution: Enhance your document-based assessments with multi-select multiple-choice questions on your printed assessment, then easily grade the bubble sheets with quick-as-a-flash GradeCam scanning.


 

Audio & Video Evidence Capture | Coming Soon!
 

 

The problem: Certain subjects and standards call for performance-based assessments so students are able to demonstrate their mastery. How do you capture the moment or share it with others?

The solution: Take performance-based assessment to the next level with audio and video evidence capture in the MasteryConnect Teacher App. Record and share authentic artifacts of learning, like musical recitals, fluency and expression skills, and student presentations. This is also a great feature for students who need assessment accommodations.

Don’t have the Teacher App? Download it for Apple or Android and keep your eyes peeled for the soon-to-be-released audio and video functionality.

 
 

Better Data Solutions
 

Teacher Benchmark Dashboard


 

The problem: Teachers have had to sort through multiple Trackers to manage their benchmarks, making it difficult to deliver and grade benchmarks efficiently.

The solution: The Teacher Benchmark Dashboard is your one-stop-shop for all things benchmarks! Now you can generate a test ID, push a benchmark out to students, view student responses and grade benchmarks—all from the homepage.

Read more in the MasteryConnect Help Center.


 

Power Standards Tracker Filter
 

 

The problem: Not all standards are created equal. Sometimes you need to see how students are performing on the standards you consider to be the foundation for their learning.

The solution: Now you can filter your data to view only your top-priority standards! We’re giving you all the power over your power standards, making it easier to see what students know and don’t know where it matters most.

Visit the Help Center to see how it’s done.


 

Report Cards

 

The problem: Student data can be overwhelming to parents, making it hard to communicate student performance in a clear and concise way.

The solution: Send student performance data home in style with customizable standards-based report cards, complete with your district logo. Choose to include attendance info, teacher comments, participation data, and more.

Interested in Report Cards? Administrators may contact their Regional Education Consultant for all the details.


 

Better Custom Reports
 

 

The problem: You want to take a closer look at specific data sets, but don’t have the option to customize reports.

The solution: Now you can see your data your way in an instant with the ability to build custom reports directly from your Tracker. This new functionality easily guides you through report creation and allows you to add as many data points from as many assessments as you want, all at once! Because when you have data at the ready, you can more meaningfully impact learning in the moment.


 

Ed-Fi Data Export
 

 

The problem: Data comes in many formats, and it can be a headache figuring out how to export it quickly.

The solution: MasteryConnect is proud to be the first Ed-Fi partner to be certified for assessment API. And now Ed-Fi fans can securely and easily export formative and benchmark assessment data in Ed-Fi format.

Have questions about any of these features?

If you’re a district administrator and you want to learn more about these exciting new features, contact your Regional Education Consultant or call us at (801) 736-0258! Teachers may talk to their in-house MasteryConnect contacts to learn more.

 

Creating a community for educators to connect and share resources is at the heart of MasteryConnect. Streamline your planning process for the new school year by exploring Resource Pins.

Read on for three reasons to use this dynamic feature:
 

#1: Pin to Teach

Need to assign a project or deliver a performance-based assessment that requires additional resources? With the Resource Pins tool, you can upload images, docs and videos into a Student Playlist and share it with your class through the student portal. This makes it easy for you to provide students with the resources necessary to complete projects at home—regardless of the subject.

 

#2: Pin to Collaborate

Resource pins make it easy to collaborate with your teacher team. Imagine being able to pin resources directly to a shared Curriculum Map so you can keep all of your standards-aligned content in the same place. The best part? You can easily bookmark or share resources you find while surfing the web with our Pin Resource bookmarklet or Chrome extension.

 

#3: Pin to Personalize Learning

Student playlists aren’t only for the whole class, they can also be used to assess small intervention groups, too. You have the ability to target students by mastery level and share content specific to a subject to aide in their understanding of any single or set of standards.

 

Learn more about Resource Pins and how to use them here.

 

Think MasteryConnect isn’t for PreK-2? In our latest videos, primary grade guru and Regional Education Consultant Jenna Lagerman will show you why MasteryConnect is perfect for the littlest of scholars.

As a former kindergarten teacher and instructional coach, Jenna used MasteryConnect in her own classroom to identify student levels of understanding for skills like letter and number recognition, counting, and more. See her strategies for small-group and one-on-one interventions, progress monitoring, and evaluating data for next steps.

 

 

PD for Primary Grades

Need more guidance using MasteryConnect for your primary classes? Let us come to you!

Our Early Childhood Core PD is a full day, on-site session focused on teaching early childhood educators to successfully implement MasteryConnect tools in the classroom and capture meaningful data from well-designed assessments.

You’ll get hands-on experience navigating the MasteryConnect platform, assigning and delivering assessments, and evaluating data through reports.

Contact your Regional Education Consultant about scheduling the Early Childhood Core PD day for your teachers. Or fill out a quick form, and we’ll call you!

 

Android users rejoice! The MasteryConnect Teacher App is now available in the Google Play store.

With everything you need to launch and document performance-based assessments on your Android phone or tablet, you can roam free in your classroom, capturing evidence of learning wherever and whenever it happens.

With Teacher App in your pocket, here’s what you can do:

  • Launch assessments right from your phone or tablet
  • Record levels of student learning by uploading photos and notes with Evidence Capture
  • Score bubble sheets instantly with GradeCam
  • Record rubric-based grades for student performances and projects

 


 

See Teacher App in Action

 


 

This on-the-go approach to formative assessment makes it easy for you to assess your way, allowing you to provide instant feedback anytime learning happens—including field trips, performances and other non-traditional learning environments.

Interested in learning more about Teacher App or scheduling a demo? Call us at (801) 736-0258!

Help Center

 

Start 2019 off right with a PD plan for your teachers and leaders. We are offering exclusive pricing on our Mastery Leadership Institute, Teacher Boot Camp and On-site PD if you purchase before December 21st!

 

#1 Save 20% on The Mastery Leadership Institute

Experience our premier PD that’s guaranteed to transform the data culture in your school or district. When you buy a seat to our January session or our special summer event, you’ll save $700 on the all-inclusive MLI retreat!

Choose from two sessions:

  • San Diego, CA | January 16 – 18, 2019
  • Park City, UT | July 9 – 11, 2019

Learn more about MLI!

 

#2 Early Bird Deals on Summer Boot Camps

Designed for teachers, administrators, and coaches looking to take their instruction to the next level, this intensive two-day workshop focuses on improving every step of the instructional cycle—from breaking down standards to planning meaningful interventions.

Choose the Early Bird Deal that’s right for your team:

  • Early Bird Registration – $800
  • Early Bird Registration with Two Nights Lodging – $1,000

Learn more and reserve your seat!

 

#3 Buy 2 Get 1 Free On-Site PD

Customize a plan of three on-site professional development sessions for the price of two! Whether you want to introduce MasteryConnect to new teachers or promote deeper usage among your team, we can build a plan to meet your specific goals.

Ready to learn more about how you can get this limited-time deal? Call us at (801) 736-0258 to learn more.


 

Teachers will soon have yet another great tool to build better assessments faster with Teacher Item Authoring in MasteryConnect. Learn more about this exciting new functionality and how you can be one of the first to get it!

 

 

Why You’ll Love Teacher Item Authoring

With the MasteryConnect Teacher Item Authoring tool, teachers will soon be able to author their own items to meet specific standards, DOK, and skills. Quickly create formative assessments using published items by accessing your own item bank.

The ability to share these items with colleagues makes the process of collaborating around and building common formative assessments (CFAs) using MasteryConnect even easier. District administrators can also choose to publish a District Teacher Bank, so teachers can quickly search and add standards-aligned items built by others.

When building TEIs with the Teacher Item Authoring tool, authors can choose from over 50 item types that best fit grade-level and subject. Item types include drag and drop, math formula, image highlight, graph plotting, ordering, and more—all representative of the TEIs students may see on district benchmark or end-of-level assessments.

The perfect complement to integrated third-party and district-created item banks, Teacher Item Authoring helps save both time and energy when building high-quality formative assessments.

 

 

Get Teacher Item Authoring Now

Are you interested in getting Teacher Item Authoring now for your teachers? We are releasing it to select MasteryConnect partners who want to be early adopters of the technology.

School and district MasteryConnect administrators may contact their Regional Education Consultant to learn more about how they can have this functionality activated for educators in their school or district.

Teachers, if you are interested in authoring your own items, contact your school or district’s in-house MasteryConnect administrator and let them know!

 

 

 

It’s Benchmark Season!

September 26th, 2018

Here at MasteryConnect, we want to make sure you have a great benchmark season. To help you be successful, we have rounded up our best resources to ensure benchmarks are smooth sailing.

Step-by-Step Articles in the MC Help Center
Take a peek at our best benchmarking articles from our Help Center. Each one gives you step-by-step instructions during every part of the process.

Online PD Benchmarking Course
For a more thorough overview, visit Online PD for our course on all things Benchmarking. There are 5 short videos—three minute or less—that will walk you through building, scheduling, and administering Benchmarks at the school and district level. Log into your MC account and launch online PD from app launcher next to your name.

Need More Help?
Want your own Benchmarking PD Session from a MasteryConnect specialist? Request more information from your Regional Education Consultant or fill out this form.

Have a different benchmarking question for us? You can always log in to submit a ticket to our talented support specialists here.

Join us for a special event to learn about the game-changing model that utilizes breakthroughs in machine learning technology, psychometrics, and data analytics to change the landscape of assessment.

A panel of experts will explore the differences between IRT and the new multi-dimensional Diagnostic Cognitive Modeling (DCM), and you will see how DCM revolutionizes mastery and personalized approaches.
States are seeking new innovative assessment models to replace the outdated No Child Left Behind Era, high-stakes assessments based on Classical Test Theory (CTT) and Item Response Theory (IRT).

This is the future of assessment. Come hear from the world-renowned psychometrician and the industry leaders who have been pioneering this new approach.

Learn More and Register