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September 20, 2013 5 Time-Saving Assessment Ideas By Kriscia Cabral
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Teachers need valid data that indicates the progress of students but doesn't involve lots of paper, testing, and grading. With the power of technology and the option of student choice, these five assessment tools get the job done effeciently without taking up all your learning time. 

    The Internet Is Your Friend

    We rely greatly on the World Wide Web. It is the tool that brought you to this very site (thank you for visiting). Two sites that I have found to be quite useful when looking for quick assessments are BrainPop and StudyJams!.

    BrainPop offers a plethora of information and video choices that are shared in student language. The site can be loaded on the computer or as an app. Last year, my students got a kick out of sharing the Featured Movie of the Day. It was one of our "learn at least one new thing a day" strategies. The featured videos are free and a few others are as well, otherwise you will need to get a paid subscription.

    StudyJams! is offered through Scholastic. The best part about StudyJams! is . . . it's free! No, seriously, the best part about StudyJams! is the content offered for student learning. Everything on StudyJams! has been created with an interactive approach focusing on science and math. Like BrainPop, the information is in student-friendly language. StudyJams! creates a fancy storyline that connects to real-world problem solving in both math and science. Students are eager and excited to learn.

    Both sites are wonderful resources for capturing student engagement. Both sites also offer a test tool, allowing students the opportunity to assess their own learning, and teachers more time to build relationships and learn alongside their students.

    Google Forms

    Instead of always having a paper quiz or assessment for students, try creating one on Google Forms. There are a number of options for creating your test, including multiple choice, fill in the blank, check all that apply, short answer, and paragraph response. I love this tool for basic concept tests that the whole class will need to complete.

    We recently did a genre quiz. I created the quiz on Google Forms and then posted it to our class webpage (you can also email the link to students or parents). My students had to click the link to take the test. When they were finished, they submitted their answers, which I automatically received. The next day I was able to look on my Google response sheet and go down the list to see who understood the concept and who I needed to work with more. Quick, easy, efficient, and no paper!

    I also use Google Forms to track my students' independent reading, and for class surveys that we take throughout the year. It is a quick and easy way to assess without the mess. The Curious Creative blog offers 80+ Google Forms for the classroom.

    Share What You See… or Hear

    In the past I would assess my students and briefly share my observations. For instance, in oral reading I would listen to a student read, set the timer, then share with that student how well they did and how I couldn't wait to assess them again to see how much they grew. Listening to my students worked well enough for me, but I realized they were not receiving the same benefit of listening.

    I soon changed my thinking behind the whole concept. When assessing my students for fluency or oral presentations, I find it much more valuable to them if I record their work and share that information with them. It was a lightbulb moment for some children to listen to themselves read or speak. The hundreds of dollars I spent on cute felt-tip pens and stickers could do no justice to the look on a child's face after they SEE and HEAR themselves read or present.

    After I record, students watch the footage and the first thing I ask is, "What did you think?" Assessing students is for their benefit. If they don't see or understand why they need your guidance, I believe there is a loss in what you are sharing with them. I sometimes need to prompt my students, but overall, the idea of seeing their own work has been a success. This is also a great way to document their growth throughout the year without having to hold previous assessments in a paper file.

    Be Creative With Testing Choices

    With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, our focus has shifted from memorization to explanation. My colleagues and I are on the "show what you know, any way you can" track. The rule in our class is, prove to me that you understand. When finishing a unit, I offer the paper test to those that just can't live without it, but I also offer the class the opportunity to show their learning in other ways. At the beginning of the year, those alternatives aren't clearly defined. It just takes one student to spark the fire that gets the whole group going. Here is an example of one student's creative way of demonstrating his knowledge of the location and capitals of the western states.

    Learn Something From Your Students

    What better way for a child to show what they know than by teaching others? This concept can work on a variety of levels. Using apps and websites like ShowMe, ScreenChomp, and Educreations, students can create lessons of their own to share with you and their classmates.

    If you have kids who are eager and willing, invite them to create a lesson using this template. They can share their lesson with someone who is in need of assistance with a particular concept.

    If you have quiet and contained students who are not interested in sharing in class, have them create their lesson using the same tools and then let others watch it. Here is an example of one of my students teaching multiplication. You will notice that her answer is incorrect. This demonstrates why I like using ShowMe as a way to assess my students. It is an opportunity for me to go back and assess their knowledge of the concept taught. This is wonderful evidence for students to look back on and visually see and comprehend where they were mixed up in their math reasoning.

    Children of the future should be assessed like jobs of the future. It isn't so much about getting the correct answer as it is about explaining how.

    Do you have any great ways to save time with your assessments?

    Your feedback is appreciated.

    Thank you for reading!





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