Assessment Strategies for an Active Classroom

In an active classroom, teachers have many options for student assessment. Along with notebook questions and tests, you can assess student performance through daily activities, group work, and writing assignments.

These TCI assessment strategies will help you identify what works for your students and what doesn’t, so you can adjust your instructional plans accordingly. They can also help students reach a deeper and longer-term understanding of new material.

Assessing Performance During Daily Activities

Effective assessment begins with evaluating day-to-day activities—a practice that benefits teachers and students. Regular ongoing assessment provides timely insights into the effectiveness of your instruction.

For students, you are sending the message that every activity is important—not just busy work—and therefore worth assessing. This regular feedback encourages students to apply high standards to their work. It also helps students identify their strengths and weaknesses in a safe, low-stakes setting and encourages them to reflect on ways to improve their future efforts.

You can build assessment into almost any activity in two ways:

  • Begin with clear expectations. When you begin an activity, make your expectations for students clear and explicit. You can do this orally, in writing, or by providing models of finished products.
  • End with a reflection. At the end of an activity, allow students to reflect on how well they met your expectations by asking them to self-assess their work or by conducting a debriefing with the entire class.

Assessment Strategies for Groupwork

Assessing groupwork raises many questions: Should group evaluations be determined by the quality of the final product or the process used to create it? Should each student in a group receive the same grade? How do you create individual accountability within a group? What role, if any, should students have in the evaluation process?

TCI’s assessment strategy for groupwork provides five steps to give students a clear understanding of how they will be assessed and enables you to hold both individuals and groups accountable. The resource includes a Brag Sheet handout for students to use as a self-assessment to evaluate their contribution to the group and their performance.

Download the strategy

How to Assess Writing Assignments

Assessing written work can be taxing and time-consuming, especially if you expect to thoroughly review and grade every piece of writing your students produce. These assessment strategies will give your students substantive feedback on their writing while saving you from an overwhelming load of paperwork.

  • Use peer-feedback groups. Having students exchange and review one another’s papers during the writing process minimizes the time it takes you to review rough drafts. Consider providing an Editing Checklist to guide students. Reading one another’s work gives students the chance to see a variety of individual writing styles. Download the Editing Checklist.
  • Grade only final drafts. When students write both a rough draft and a final draft, you might give them some feedback on the rough draft, but actually grade only the final draft.
  • Use focused grading. Grade for only one or two parts of the assignment besides the content. For example, you might look for an introduction that grabs the reader’s attention, the quality of supporting details, a good thesis statement, a conclusion that summarizes the main points, rich vocabulary, a strong writer’s voice, or organization. Clearly define the criteria for assessment. Or, at the beginning of each assignment, consider not telling students which portion you will grade; this will encourage high quality in all areas of their writing.
  • Use a portfolio system. Develop a portfolio system where students keep selected samples of their work throughout the semester. After students complete several writing assignments, have them choose two or three to revise further. Thoroughly grade these “best” writing products. This is an excellent way to monitor individual student progress.
  • Stagger due dates. To manage your paper load, stagger the due dates you set for major writing assignments among your classes. Allot ample time between due dates, and don’t set a due date immediately before the end of a grading period.
  • Use a rubric. Create a basic rubric to allow students to assess their own work during the writing process. Tailor the form to reflect the criteria of particular assignments. Include space for both student and teacher comments. Communication and feedback are key to improving future writing assignments. Download the Writing Evaluation Form.

From daily activities to efficiently evaluating writing assignments, these strategies will help you assess student performance.

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