Assessment. Now that’s a loaded word in education circles. The past few years I’ve been in so many meetings about assessment that I feel like just hearing the word makes my head want to spin. I’m certainly not going to try to condense everything into one blog post, so please don’t run away!
I was hesitant to make summative assessment a part of the instructional process, but I felt that it was necessary to emphasize that summative assessments (assessments that will be counted toward a student’s grade) should not take place until after the student has experienced multiple learning opportunities with the content. I’m not going to record a grade when I first introduce key vocabulary or when I initially teach key concepts. I need to wait until my students have received guided practice, support, and feedback before I can record a grade. This does mean that you may not have a ton of grades, but I don’t believe that more always equals better.
I may wait until the end of the unit or mini unit to give a summative assessment, but I assess through formative assessments everyday. Throughout the entire instructional process, I am constantly assessing my students. I may assess through simple observation and listening to class discussions or students while they’re playing vocabulary games. While they are all useful forms of assessment, I like something a little more concrete and not quite so subjective. I’ve created exit passes for social studies that I will use to help me address misconceptions and will allow me know to if there are any areas that need reteaching. If I see that a small group of students are having difficulty, I may work with that group of students or provide them with a little more scaffolding. If I see that the majority of my class is confused, I’ll make adjustments to my plans.
When you use exit tickets (exit passes) the assessments should be short and to the point. This is not your instruction. It’s a simple follow-up assessment to help guide your instruction. I have four of the same question on each piece of paper to help save paper, copies, and time.
For my summative assessments I like to use a variety of styles of questions and formats. I modified my social studies warm-ups and turned them in to social studies assessments. I’ve updated the file, so you can get the assessment version in addition to the daily review version.
I will say that I do occasionally give a very traditional multiple choice test for our social studies and science topics. I always send home a study guide two weeks before the test. This is usually my students first experience with a traditional test, so I want to find ways to teach students how to prepare for a test. I try not to make it too big of a deal, but I do like to get my students used to the format all throughout the year, rather than waiting and cramming with test prep.