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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Assessment Workshop Activities

Hands-on lessons you can adapt for your assessment workshops.
Related Tags: Assessment,Rubrics

Now that you've established the basics of assessment, you're ready for part two. On this page, you will find a wide range of activities that introduce assessment ideas and provide help in creating rubrics, to get workshop participants thinking and talking about the many ways student learning can be assessed.

1. Prepare Participants for Critical Viewing of Case Study Videos

Before watching a set of videos that demonstrate alternative methods of assessment, ask participants, "What questions do you have about assessment that might be answered by looking carefully at a video of students being assessed in different ways?"

Suggest that participants view the videos shown with particular questions in mind. For example, they can be asked to watch the Aviation High School video while looking for a list of different ways the students were assessed during the course of the project.

2. Watch Case Study Videos

Choose a video from the following list to share with class participants, based on their grade level interest. There are links to accompanying articles from the video pages for more information.

After a brief small-group discussion and reflection, engage the larger group of participants in conversation about what they saw. Ideas for post-viewing questions include:

  • "What kind of pre-planning was required for the teacher to use alternative methods of assessment?"
  • "How did the students get involved in the assessment process? How did their involvement affect their learning outcomes?"
  • "How is learning measured differently than when only test-based assessment is used?"
3. Grant Wiggins' Article on Assessment

Have participants read the article "Toward Genuine Accountability: The Case for a New State Assessment System" and then follow these steps:

Student Erin Rietow presents findings from her pond restoration project to a panel of peers and community.

  • Ask participants, "What did you think of the analogy Grant Wiggins makes between basketball and state testing? Explain."
  • Have the class discuss the blueprint Wiggins suggests for state assessment, and ask participants, "Do you agree or disagree? How would you improve it?"
  • Have the class discuss Wiggins's proposal for a state performance system and the five guiding principles that underlie his proposal.
  • Direct participants to take a position, either pro or con, for the proposal, create a presentation defending their position, and present it to the group.
4. Expert Interviews

Ask participants, "What do the experts have to say about alternative forms of assessment?"

  • Introduce participants to the article Comprehensive Assessment: What Experts Say on Edutopia.org
  • Suggest that small groups (2-4 participants) read and talk about the questions and responses of one expert, or assign particular experts to small groups. There are several options: focus on national experts such as Grant Wiggins or Bruce Alberts, concentrate on individual school personnel (principals and/or teachers and/or students), or assign two or more experts within a category so participants can compare and contrast their comments.
  • Suggest that participants conduct external research on their expert to see what else he or she has to say about assessment.
  • Have the class discuss each expert interview, and ask participants, "Did you agree with the expert? Why or why not?"
  • In groups, have participants discuss the views of the interviewees with whom they most agreed or disagreed and explain their position.
  • Have the small groups present their findings to the large group. Participants may develop a presentation, role-play an interview, or report their findings in other ways.
5. Assessment for Understanding

Introduce the concept of performance assessment to the class, by having participants read "Assessment for Understanding," and then follow these steps:

  • Ask participants, "What did you think of the article?"
  • Have participants discuss the section or sections of the article that affected them most, and ask them, "Why did they affect you?"
  • Have participants take a position, either pro or con, on the assessment model, create a presentation defending their position, and present it to the group.
6. Measuring What Counts: Memorization Versus Understanding

Introduce the ways project-based learning can be assessed by having participants read the article "Measuring What Counts: Memorization Versus Understanding" and then discuss these questions:

  • What three elements factor into the creation of a project?
  • What are some of the benefits, according to the article, of project-based learning?
  • What are recommendations for beginning projects in the classroom?
7. Project-Based Lesson and Rubric

The following activities are designed to give participants experience in creating a project-based lesson and a model rubric for assessing it. For more about designing projects, visit the How Does Project-Based Learning Work? page of our Project-Based Learning Guide.

Present Your Idea
  • Write a reflective paragraph and present it to the group.
  • List projects that would be likely to engage your students.
  • Create a chart or presentation to present your project ideas to the group.
Design a Project and Rubric
  • Choose a project idea.
  • Choose a topic or question for the project-based lesson.
  • Develop the objectives of the project and the tasks.
  • Design a rubric for the project-based lesson.
  • Decide whether the rubric is going to be an example of a teacher-created rubric or one created by both the teacher and the students.
Create Rubrics Present the Rubric
  • Present to the group one of the rubrics you have created.
  • How does it fit the assessment needs of your students?
  • How does it fit your assessment needs as a teacher?
Discuss Rubrics
  • Discuss why it is a teacher-created rubric or one created by both the teacher and the students.
  • What thoughts went into the process of creating the rubric?
  • Why would one use rubric templates?
  • List the pros and cons of using a template.
  • When would you be more likely to use a rubric that did not employ a template?
8. Assessment Research
  • Visit our Comprehensive Assessment Research page for the latest findings about assessment.
  • Download the PDF files of the research reports or view the research websites.
  • What do you think? Discuss your thoughts in small groups.
9. International Assessment

Continue to the next section of the guide, Resources for Assessment.

Comments (3)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Tyra R. Omirin's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The most important thing that I have learned about assessment is that it is an integral part of instruction and does determine whether or not goals of education are being met. But what I don't understand and will never comprehend, is how one exam or assessment tool can regulate a persons ability to move forward in education. In my state the TAKS exam is given to students to evaluate what they have learned over the course of the school year. I have seen good students that normally do well on their daily work and tests fail the TAKS and is held back, just because they didn't pass that assessment tool. I have fifteen year olds in the 7th grade to this day because they were unable to master the material covered witin that state tool. In high school many of the students are well over the age limit for high school averaging between the ages of 14-20. It was shocking to find out that it was because they were unable to pass that TAKS exam. My own son has taken the exam this year, he is in the 7th grade and will advance to 8th grade next year, but if he does not pass that exam next year to move to the ninth grade, even though he has excellent daily scores and is an honor student, he will not move ahead. I pray that something be done about this assessment tool that rules out the clause that says students will be held back if they do not pass. I feel that it should be based on yearly/daily grades from the class work.

As for Rubrics, I love them! I can not recall a time when I did not use a rubric or have a rubric as a guide to completing my work assignments. It is the best way to stay on track of things in my opinion. I use my rubric as a guiding tool to help me tailor my writing and other classroom work assignments. As for our teaching team, we use them to be consistent with evaluating our students. Each teacher has the same rubric for writing assignments and many other projects throughout the year.

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