Quick Assessment Tool

I have often found myself at the end of a lesson cycle wondering, “Did my students *really* understand that concept?” “I wish we had more time to assess…wait, no I don’t.” I am always torn. I want to assess the students but not by throwing a scantron in front of them and asking them to read a passage. I know that type of assessing is beneficial at times, but not often.

I love to do quick assessments. In an earlier blog post, I wrote about using Exit Tickets to assess my students. I also love using these little signs to assess their learning.

At the beginning of the school year (well, these actually last 2-3 years) I make these for the students. I just keep them in gallon bags and pull them out when I am working on that particular skill. 
Making these is simple. Just download the Assessment Signs (for free.) I print mine on Astrobrights Paper, but you can use white paper also. The sticks will have two sides so the students can flip the side back and forth to show you their answer (I will talk more about this in a minute!)
The students cut out their squares and use Glue Dots and Popsicle Sticks to assemble. I really recommend the Glue Dots. I use them for everything that regular glue won’t do. Hot glue works great for these, but I don’t want to assemble all of them for 25+ students. Having the students do them makes it so easy! 
When I have finished teaching a skill or when I am even in the middle of teaching it, I pull these out (only the set that matches the skill I am teaching) and pass them out to the students. I will read, discuss, or give examples and the students will hold up the answer.
For example, I do a sentence strip activity each year with main idea and details. I point to the sentence strip and the students hold up if they think it is the main idea of the paragraph or a detail. I am able to see pretty quickly if they understand that the main idea is an overview and the details are…well, details. 
I also have a variety of these on hand. 
I use the following skills for this assessment:
  • Cause and Effect
  • Synonym and Antonym
  • Inferred and Stated
  • Main Idea and Details
  • Fact and Opinion
Remember, this is an informal assessment. The students really love it though and it is so easy to pass these out (last minute) to see who is getting the skill and who still needs work.
My neighbor teacher asked me once how I keep the students from peeking at other students’ responses before holding up their sign. I don’t really have to police it. I think it is because we talk (at the beginning of the year) about how much this helps me, help them. If they are honest, I will be able to see they need help. We try to have a very risk free environment. I try to make sure the students feel safe being wrong. Sometimes there might be a snicker, but I jump in and discuss that behavior. 
I hope you will decide to use these in your classroom! I enjoy watching my kids learn and seeing where they need to grow. Any opportunity I get to do that without sticking their nose to a test is perfect! Let me know what you think!
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