Don't Stress - Just Assess!

Does testing and assessment STRESS YOU OUT?!  I'm sure you are not alone!  Assessment has become a nasty word but it doesn't have to be.

What if I told you that students can be a huge part of the process and that once you are used to it, assessment may become your most fun time!  (Of course I'm not talking about State or District testing but even that may become less stressful.) Why?  Read on and I'll tell you!

There are 3 different kinds of assessments:

Assessment OF learning:  Students are given a task and then the teacher records and reports on the student's level of achievement based on learning outcomes.  (This is one of the most common forms of assessment.)

Assessment AS learning:  Students are given tasks to use to further their own learning. Self assessment and peer assessment is used so that students can set their own learning goals.

Assessment FOR learning:  A task or activity is given to students and the teacher can adjust the instruction based on the needs of the students as the task is being carried out.  Feedback is given to the student in a timely and specific manner which helps the student to learn and move forward.

There is room for all 3 forms of assessment in education.  The difficulty (which causes us teachers stress) is that if students are only tested at the end of a unit, there is no room for adjusting the instruction or giving feedback AS the student is learning so that the student is sure to have learned the concepts by the time the unit test or State test is administered.

So how can you take the stress out of it?  By making assessment an integral part of the lesson.  Also, by incorporating criteria that you build together with the class, students can then assess their own work based on that criteria. Students are easily able to understand that having characters or a beginning, middle and end would be important when you write a story for example.

First you need a criterion referenced set that students can relate to.  Of course what can we ALL relate to? CUPCAKES! I have created a criteria sheet based on cupcakes so that kids will understand what makes a good piece of work based on what make a good cupcake.  Of course, not every day is a birthday just like not everyday can everyone achieve a 4.

Once students understand the criteria for a particular assignment,  they learn how to set goals.  The teacher can give examples (based on learning outcomes or his/her own life) and students can work in partners or groups to design their own learning goals.

Students begin to get very used to working with assessments and goals. When they self assess, they become so empowered that THEY are in control of their own learning. They care. :)  When students care about their learning and know that they can achieve because they know exactly what to do, their marks get better and better. As a teacher, you become in charge of the learning process as a facilitator once the lesson is taught and you can differentiate for students much more easily when you both know just where they are at in a certain area.  You begin to celebrate WITH them as they achieve learning goals and set new ones.

This is where student-led conferences come in.  Now students are showcasing their own learning and parents become part of the process.  Everything you need to write your report cards is right there and it's always current.  It's a win win situation and that is a very good feeling.

If you are interesting in learning more, you may want to check out my Ultimate Literacy Assessment Binder.

Thank you for stopping by!

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