Lately, I have been thinking of all of the testing and expectations we put on our little ones. I've become saddened by all of the assessments my little kiddos have to go through each week. They are six and seven years old, and yet they are expected to sit there and show their knowledge on a piece of paper. I know that paper-pencil assessments are useful in that they prepare our kids for state assessments, but sometimes, I think we have too many paper-pencil assessments for our young learners. I've been working really hard to implement more performance-based assessments into my classroom.
We put forth so much effort as educators to make our activities and lessons hands-on and fun! Why should our assessments be any different?!
Here are a few of my recent assessment ideas and reflections that I would love to share with you. :)
1) Social studies and science are perfect places to start when implementing performance based assessments into your classroom.
Recently, we studied the characteristics of various landforms in my first grade classroom. As a culminating activity AND assessment, I had my students sculpt various landforms out of their dough. It was not only FUN and hands-on for my kids, but it was very telling in that I could watch my students' process their understanding and demonstrate their knowledge with a final product.
For the assessment below, my students had to use cotten balls to show the characteristics of each type of cloud. They could use the text and their own understanding and knowledge from our science lessons to demonstrate their learning. Once again, they had so much FUN and didn't even realize they were taking a "test." ;)
2) Manipulatives. We ENCOURAGE our students to use manipulatives during our small groups and lessons...and yet I see so many teachers who put these manipulatives away during a test. Why?
This little girl was struggling with this word problem during a recent assessment. When I put the basket of cubes on her desk and asked her to "act it out," guess what? She completely mastered the problem! The lesson of this story? Our goal is for our kids to understand how to go through a mathematical process and arrive at the correct answer. If our kids have to use cubes, or crayons, or pennies to show you they have mastered this skill..let them!!
"Let Them Be Little" is a beautiful song by Billy Dean. I love this song because of it's beautiful reminder that in the midst of our crazy state initiatives, testing, assessments, ever-increasing expectations for our students...at the end of the day, the kids who walk out of my classroom door are only six and seven years old. I want them to learn through a hands-on approach, so I need to remember to hold true to this approach - even during assessments.
I hope you will join me in reflecting on how "child-friendly" our classroom assessments are. Perhaps, you are already implementing a bunch of performance based assessments in your classroom. If you are, leave a comment below sharing one way you implement these in your room. We would LOVE to hear your ideas and comments. :)
Until next month...