15 assessments that don’t suck…

This post has been updated–please click here for 2014 version

Movies have sequels.  Bands have compilation releases.  Bloggers have new posts with links to old ones…and to hype them they put words like “suck” in the title….ahhh…even better…a number in the title!  Just went back and renamed the post.  Welcome to “15 assessments that don’t suck.”

At a recent edcamp I put up a session entitled “Assessments that don’t suck.”  It was an attempt by me to simply find new ways of assessing kids that don’t suck.  To keep my sanity, I must always do something different each year.  I think there is only one unit that had an assessment this year that I had used in the past (Mill Girl Poetry Slam).  I thought I would compile them here for all of those dedicated crazy teachers out there who are looking for new ideas this summer to include in their units next year.  Some you have probably heard of, hopefully some will be new!

Please remember….when doing an activity for the first time you must do it along with the kids.  Most of these are much, much harder than they seem. I know…they don’t seem it, that’s why you have to do them with your kids.  You will never understand how to help the kids with these unless you have tried them yourself.  Also keep in mind that my kids are very different than yours.  Please look at the idea, and don’t focus on the quality of the students performance.  Some of these are summative, some are summative, and others happened by mistake.  And of course, yes these are social studies assessments, but they can be very easily adopted for any subject.

Everything in RED is a hyperlink, click on the links for more info

RSA Videos
RSA videos are a huge crowd pleaser.  The kids really enjoyed making them.  Post production can be teacher intensive depending on your tech tools available and tech expertise of your kids.

Note card Confessions
I am still tweaking this in my head for next year.  This year it got placed into a unit that was chopped up with half-days, snow days, and scheduling changes.  There is a lot of potential with this.

Full class music videos
What can I say…my favorite.  Not everyone has to sing.  Many different roles are involved for kids of all levels.

Commoncraft Style Videos
I haven’t done Common Craft Style videos in a couple years, but it is a neat gateway project for teachers looking to do something different.

Reverse Poems
Ok…I have to admit I have not successfully completed these with a class.  They are SOOO hard.  The link brings you to the one that inspires us to keep trying, and here is one from this year that was pretty good.  The idea is one perspective when read one way, and teh opposite perspective when read the other.  While we have done a bunch on paper, putting them into video can be challenging.

Black-out Poems
These are really neat.  Nothing had the class so quiet and focused this year.  They really need a student to present and explain, don;t really do well standing alone in a blog post.  In person they are a hit.

I loved this assessment.  I really learned a lot from it and and it started a trend for me to start using less technology in class. 

Lip synch, dances, and more
Just a bunch of random ideas in this link 😉

I am a fan of the assessment that doesn’t smell like an assessment.  We did PSA’s on current problems using the technique’s of 19th Century Progressives.  Each of the PSAs did not on the surface seem to connect to 19th Century United States History. But for example, the student who created the PSA in the link could make a historical connection for each part of her video.  They were all collected onto a Posterous site, but Posterous has since closed!  Here is a link with a little more info on what we did.  I almost deleted this after re-reading this post simply because it is hard to see how this is an assessment, and how it really does connect to our 19th century history unit.  You’ll have to just trust me 🙂

Poetry Slam
Simply the one unit that kids talk about years after they graduate.  It is also the unit that is most dependent on the teacher.  I have watched another teacher do the same unit and it simply did not fly.  If you cannot motivate, energize and kick some butt….leave this one alone 🙂

Reader’s theatre
Alright…I know this one seems so simple.  But it can be so powerful.  Take one story and split it into parts…split paragraphs, splits lines, to make it more powerful than if read straight through. The link is actually to one that we did with a primary source.  The students have done them in a variety of styles.  One that stick out is three kids who wrote letters home from the Oregon trail.  Each one read one sentence at a time, but when read it sounded like one single letter.  Again, simple idea, but they take time to play with the information and the processing produces some great learning.  Can be done with two kids, small group, or an entire class.

1000 Words
Neat idea that I am refining.  This was the first year I tried it.  I think there is some potential to use it not only with images, but text as well.
Post with more details

Stop Action Animation
An idea that can be very complex, or very simple (the link is to a simple one).

Lip Synch
Take a famous video clip, and have the kids synch what they leaned to it.  Seriously…these always feel like a train wreck when I have tried them.  I always say never again…but then one kid will convince me to try it again.  Not sure about the value, but I can say that it takes so many attempts and practice that they certainly remember the facts.

Fish Bowl Discussions
Neat way to have more of a conversation rather than a back and forth between teacher and students Adding this one on 9/9/13

Let me know how it goes if you try any of these.  I am always looking for ideas on how to make them better.  Some might seem a bit challenging, but you always get better results when you challenge you kids to do the impossible

For those of you that are counting…the title of the post is “15 assessments that don’t suck”…but I only included 14.  The 15th is yours.  Please leave  description of an assessment that you do with the kids that does not suck, and provide a link if you have one!

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