Hey Hi Hello!
How are yall doing?! Surely if you’re reading this, you’re alive! I’m glad you’re still here and kicking. This school year has been a doozy for everyone worldwide. Personal lives and other outside concerns are also challenging us even more so now. I want you to know that I am thinking of each of you.
Today, I want to talk a little about creative ways to assess your students, while staying aligned with your standards. As we are about midsummer and talks of school starting again is going on, so many teachers will be working on lesson plans and thinking of how to start next year off STRONG, especially after all of this years trials.
Of course, as teachers, we are always looking for fun or creative ways to meet our students’ interests and stay within our standards. This can feel tricky.
The different pieces of differentiation are a great way to begin when trying to plan something new. They are:
4. Learning environment
Knowing these and working to understand them will be super helpful when planning different assessments! Tomlinson has some great work on these different types and I HIGHLY suggest reading up on her work!! But for a brief overview, check out this blog post by Reading Rockets that sums up a little of Tomlinson’s work on differentiation. https://www.readingrockets.org/article/what-differentiated-instruction
So let’s get into breaking down our assessments into these different types of differentiation and how can we implement it in our classroom. To see more about ANY of the examples from my class, just click the picture!!
I use different activities that I can tie to my standards quite often, and typically they are student-led. Typically I give my students an objective and let them decide where to take their work. This would be considered process or even product. While my content can also change depending on what is being asked of the students (such as a research project). Here are some examples of process or product differentiated lessons…. Can you find the literacy standards that they are hitting? What do you think they are?
Here are some math and literacy integrated assessments. These differentiate based on product, instead of process. Can you tell me what literacy AND math standards are being hit here?
These are some of the easiest ways of differentiating. Content can be trickier when you are expected to hit certain CONTENT standards, especially in science and social studies. Finding ways to integrate these standards with your literacy and math assessment are going to really help you develop a strong content differentiation!
While this isn’t an assessment, this is a great content + literacy integration example. It’s important to remember that literacy includes spoken language (especially in lower grades like preK-2)… check it out
Finally, I used this activity as a formative assessment to see how my students were doing with counting. This lesson is a great example of a LEARNING ENVIRONMENT differentiated activity. The students go outside and used some chalk to count and write by their choice of counting skill (skip counting by 2, 5, or 10, or counting by 1s).
So now that we’ve seen some different types of examples… let’s talk about how to plan these assessments.
Step one is to pick the standards that you are assessing for. No matter what type of standards you are required to use, you will want to pick which ones you need to address in this activity. If you are integrating an assessment, that’s great!.. Still pick your standards and make sure you add those to your plans (if you use rubrics, GREAT! This makes adding your standards to your assessments much easier!).
Step two and three tend to go together. Step two is to decide what you want to do. What type of assessment do you need? Written? Oral? Maker? Technology? Action? All of the above? Any of the above?
Step three is decide how do you want to differentiate. Is your focus on the same content for all- such as writing narrative stories? That’s okay, you can pick another differentiation method, such as process or product! We do a super fun narrative writing assessment that we differentiate by product and process! Students first must write, but after that they have free reign to choose HOW to tell (publish) their story. It’s great!
These steps compliment each other so much, that really I do them at the same time. I outline what I will NEED from the students for my own data (example: I need a writing sample), but then I add in differentiation based on what other standards I want to/need to hit (example: I need to add in some ISTE (technology), some oral or some maker standards, I can use my product/process differentiation here and allow students to create more with their assessment).
There are tons of ways to do this differentiation. Here's another option that I don't have any pictures or posts to share with but is one of my FAVORITE assessments! For my narrative writing assessments, I like to show my students multiple ways to “tell” a story throughout the unit. Then when they are finished writing their story and we have checked it together in a conference using a checklist based on the standards for that assessment, they can CHOOSE their own way to tell their story. This could be by making a book, a movie, a Toontastic video, a picture book, a comic book, even a dance! I’m hitting my writing standards by ensuring the students are writing and using the checklist to check over it, but also hitting creativity and maker standards. It depends entirely on what your creation and maker standards are… perhaps your school doesn’t even have any… but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still do them.
These are some of my top tips to get creative with assessing, while also still hitting your standards! There’s definitely tons and tons of other ways to do this!
What do you think? Which idea is your favorite? What idea did I miss that you think we should put up here?!?! Tell me in the comments!