Out of the Box Assessments!

I have always enjoyed planning the unit of inquiry. It has tremendous scope for research, investigation, and collaboration. There is no end to what you can add to pique the students’ interest in a particular topic. Since this is my 5th year running in grade 3, I decided to go all out with out-of-the-box assessments this year for the unit I was planning. I wanted to give the children an experience of evaluations that are not stressful and fun to prepare for. Since we’ve come back from the pandemic, the students have been giving their all to their academics, and forgetting their learning can be fun too! Everyone is trying desperately to cover gaps they see without realizing that learning should be something they want to do every day!

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An overview of the unit-

During our second term, I was planning a unit on crises. We were to give the students an overarching view of what crises are all about and their causes and effect. We decided to club the first and second lines of inquiry. It made it easier to dig into natural and manmade disasters by explaining the causes of each disaster and then going further into the effects and impacts of each catastrophe. The 3rd line of inquiry was concerned with resilient structures and the prevention of crises. This unit was to be under the TD theme of ‘How we organize ourselves’ Since we would mainly be talking about how we build resilient systems to manage and prevent various crises.

Planning the assessments

The first and second assessment

Since the first and second lines of inquiry were combined, the assessment would also have to be shared. For the initial evaluation, we would check the student’s understanding of the causes and effects of the crises they inquired into.

I decided to differentiate the product. First, the students had to put together all of their research work on the calamities and show their understanding through various means, such as a diorama, the creation of a quiz (questions on paper with multiple choice answers), or a Flipgrid video. This technique allowed each child to reflect on their strengths and select a product that inspired them.

The students were extremely creative with their final products! They presented their understanding in front of their peers with great pride. I loved the variety that came out of this assessment. When students made their quizzes, we actually took them online using apps for everyone in the class to attempt. I made sure to also add a teacher checklist so that each facilitator would also have an easier time while giving feedback on the assessments. Assessments should be enjoyed by all, right? 🙂

A diorama on drought…

A diorama on earthquakes…

All of the dioramas were made with recycled materials to teach them about sustainability as we had aligned this unit with SDG 11!

The third formative assessment-

Role play on drought using props and posters…
A skit on earthquake drills and safety measures…
A song with percussion on earthquakes
Posters on crisis management

The teachers of the younger grades marked a rubric for the children who performed the awareness campaign.

The summative assessment

Since teachers wanted to have at least one pen-and-paper assessment, I also gave students choices. In the assessment, learners were given 3-4 scenarios, each presented differently- through a news article, audio clip, and pictures. Then, students picked the medium they felt most comfortable with and displayed their understanding using the 3W and 1 H strategy.

As always, I like the teachers to enjoy checking the assessment as well! Therefore, I provided the anecdotal comments at the end that simply needed to be ticked. Additional comments can always be provided.

In this way, students who were not the best readers could also excel. Auditory learners could pick up the sound clip and show their understanding. At the end of the day, children love having selections as they know that it shows that each learning style is appreciated and accepted.

The takeaway-

Creating assessments based on student needs is a necessity. For our students to excel, we need to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Along with this understanding should come a deep acceptance of different learning styles. As facilitators, we need to know that each child is unique. Assessments should not be stressful.

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As I planned this unit, I realised that assessments could be even more fun than learning experiences. They feel more major than classroom activities and can be grander than what we do daily. Rather than making these into stressful events, we can make these significant learning experiences into something meaningful. My students will always remember presenting an awareness campaign to a younger grade. They will never forget preparing to be role models, along with training to educate young ones.
I hope they felt like their assessments built them up and strengthened their foundational knowledge!

Share your thoughts!

If you have used creative and out-of-the-box assessments, share them in the comment section for all of us to celebrate you!

If you have thoughts to share on education, strategies to enhance learning or tips and tricks on classroom management, write a guest blog for us! For more information, head to the ‘Write for us’ section at the top of the homepage.

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