While quizzes and exams have their advantages, there are other ways to assess your students. This lesson provides teachers with informal assessments designed to engage students in a relaxed and positive manner.
Keep it Informal
Students of all ages and levels face a variety of standardized assessments throughout their time in school. Because of this, it can sometimes be helpful to relieve the pressure by assessing your students through informal means. However, just because an assessment is informal, doesn’t mean you can’t assign a score or letter grade.
How you introduce these assessments to your students is up to you, but you may want to consider the possibility that some students perform better when they don’t know they are being assessed. Informal assessments can be helpful in a variety of situations.
- When you are short on time/testing materials
- When you want to spontaneously check student comprehension
- When students need help refocusing on a topic
This type of informal assessment is particularly helpful when you feel some of the students are understanding the content of the lesson and others are not. Begin by dividing students into pairs. Next, write a few discussion questions on the board. For example:
- What are a few key points from this lesson?
- What, if anything, confused you about this lesson?
- How would you improve this lesson?
You can also ask content-specific questions.
Give the pairs a few minutes to discuss the questions among themselves and then ask one person from each pair to share at least two points he/she discussed with his/her partner. Alternatively, you can ask each partner to share one point. If you don’t have time for everyone to speak, have students write down a short summary of their discussions and collect these papers to review.
At the end of a unit or lesson, give students approximately five minutes to brainstorm their key points and takeaways.
The brainstorm writing can take a variety of forms:
- A diagram (pictogram, web)
- A list
- An outline
Finally, collect the brainstorm summaries and post them up around the classroom. Give students time to browse their classmates’ ideas and have a class discussion about the significant commonalities and differences among the brainstorms.
This informal assessment is a great way to preview an upcoming lesson by getting students to actively engage with an approaching topic.
- Give students the topic of the next lesson, but provide no details.
- Ask them to write down or orally predict what content they believe will be included in the lesson.
- Discuss why certain expectations emerged and why other aspects of the topic may have been ignored.
In this activity, students will write their own quiz questions based on material that has been covered in class.
Begin by assigning different question types to groups of students. For example, you could assign five students to write two multiple-choice questions each, five students to write one short answer question each, and five students to write two fill-in-the-blank questions each.When the questions are completed, compile them into a comprehensive quiz to give to the students. If possible, write the questions on the blackboard so that students can answer the questions immediately. After administering the quiz, have a class discussion about the both the accuracy and relevance of the questions and the answers.
Lesson Plan It
This exercise can be undertaken at either the beginning or end of a lesson or unit of study.
If used at the beginning, provide students with the topic you are going to teach and a few key points. Then give some time for each student to create a lesson plan. These lesson plans should include activities and exercises. If you use this idea at the end of a lesson, have students write a lesson plan that includes changes or differences they would have liked to have seen in the lesson. You can collect these lesson plans or ask for volunteers to share their lesson planning ideas with the class.