Click play below to hear 10 creative student assessment ideas:
While the weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break can be full of fun holiday-themed activities, this can also be a great time to review and assess student learning of the content you covered in the first semester of school. As you gear up with the state assessments to come in the next few months, finding creative and fun ways to assess your students gets them in the mindset while also helping you gauge where they’re at. So, in today’s episode, I’m sharing 10 creative student assessment ideas you can easily use in your classroom this week!
It’s typical to gauge a student’s understanding of a topic after each lesson, which these ideas do. However, each of these student assessment ideas is quick, easy, and can be used for exit tickets or at the end of each lesson for any content area. Each idea is a fun way for students to show their understanding, express their learning style, and identify which areas they’re struggling with. Additionally, every idea requires no prep and can easily be implemented in your classrooms.
We know there’s more than one way to assess student learning, so it’s time to start using them. Instead of using formal assessments, use these 10 student assessment ideas that are creative and easy for monitoring student understanding without giving an actual assessment.
In this episode on student assessment ideas, I share:
- 10 creative and easy student assessment ideas
- How each idea can be used as an exit ticket or check-in at the end of every lesson
- The benefit of having students create their own multiple-choice assessment
- How each assessment idea gives you insight into a student’s learning style and comprehension
- Exit Ticket Templates
- Sticky Note Templates Bundle
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Related episodes and blog posts:
- Episode 75, 7 Test Prep Strategies for Student Success
- Episode 53, Incorporating Movement Into Your Literacy Block
- Episode 16, Engaging Test Prep Tips
- 10 Engaging Exit Ticket Ideas for ANY Lesson
- How to Make the Most Out of Your Sticky Note Templates
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Welcome to the Stellar Teacher Podcast! We believe teaching literacy is a skill. It takes a lot of time, practice, and effort to be good at it. This podcast will show you how to level up your literacy instruction and make a massive impact with your students, all while having a little fun!
Your host, Sara Marye, is a literacy specialist passionate about helping elementary teachers around the world pass on their love of reading to their students. She has over a decade of experience working as a classroom teacher and school administrator. Sara has made it her mission to create high-quality, no-fluff resources and lesson ideas that are both meaningful and engaging for young readers.
Each week, Sara and her guests will share their knowledge, tips, and tricks so that you can feel confident in your ability to transform your students into life-long readers.
Hey, friends, happy Monday. You are in the homestretch. I know that this is the hardest time of the year the stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But now that we are into December, I am assuming you have two weeks or less of school until you get those two amazing weeks off.
So I hope that you are having fun with your students, I hope that you are taking time away from work to celebrate and enjoy this holiday season. And I hope that everything in the classroom is going smoothly.
I wanted to share some ideas. Today we’re going to talk basically all about creative ways that you can assess student learning. And I thought this would be a good episode to air this time of year because I know, at least when I was in the classroom, or working as an assistant principal, December and even January, can be really assessment heavy from like a standardized assessment sort of way.
Typically speaking teachers this time of year are going to be giving benchmarks to their students to see what they learned first semester, you might be having your students take running records, or listen to them read to see where they’re at with their reading levels. District might be giving you the test prep stuff, the multiple choice questions just to see where they’re at. Because I know when we get back from January, unfortunately, we like start getting into the test prep season.
And so you probably have a lot of formal assessments on your calendar either now in December, or when we get back in January. With that being said, you still probably also want to be tracking and monitoring your student’s progress on your day to day lessons.
But I think when we’re sort of like deep in the formal assessment, we want to be mindful of how we’re assessing students day to day, at the end of the lessons, you know, what type of assessing do we have going on during the week, so they don’t get burned out with assessment. So I have some just creative quick ideas that you could use for either exit tickets, or at the end of any lesson, whether it’s reading, math, science, social studies, these ideas kind of work with anything.
Like I said, they work great for exit tickets, you could even use them at the end of the week. At the end of the day. Anytime you’re wanting to sort of gauge your student’s understanding of a topic here are sort of some creative ideas that you could use, that don’t necessarily look like an assessment, they don’t really look like a quiz or a test, but they give you a ton of information.
One of the things that I found is that some of the most valuable information that I learned from my students comes when I asked them interesting, open ended questions. And then I give them a few minutes to respond. You know, we can give our students multiple choice tests, we can give them matching tests, we can have them answer specific questions based off of a passage or something.
But that sort of limits their thinking, because in a lot of ways, when students know that something is a test or an assessment, they start thinking, Okay, I want to make sure that I do well on this test that I get everything correct. And they start thinking about it from a test perspective, rather than let me just communicate my understanding about a topic.
So these ideas are meant to be super open ended. And a lot of cases, they’re really fun for students. And like I said, they don’t necessarily know that they’ve been assessed. So here are 10 ideas that you could use for exit tickets, or just general sort of like I used to call them show me what you know, at the end of a lesson and it’s just show me what you know, there’s no grade for it. It simply is informative for both students and teachers.
So one thing that you could do is challenge your students, I call it 10 words or less. And basically what you’re doing is you’re having your students write a summary of the lesson in 10 words or less. And this is fun, because students love this idea of a challenge of being able to only use 10 words, and it really forces them to consider each word they are using.
And if they’re only writing down 10 words, you as a teacher can quickly read through them and be able to see, you know, What words did your students use? What concepts did they grasp? Do you have some students who are completely off base here? And it’s just a really quick way for you to see their takeaway.
You can have students write it down on a sticky note on a note card. You can even have an anchor chart throughout the day that students go up and they write down their 10 words or less on an anchor chart. So lots of ways that you could do that. super quick, super simple works for any lesson.
Another thing that I love have students doing is I call it draw label caption and I think this came from the thinking routines. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, thinking routines, I’ve shared a couple different ones on them here before.
But for this one, all you have students do is draw a picture based off of the lesson that they learned. And then you want them to label all of the important elements of their picture. And then they’re going to provide a two to three sentence caption.
And this one works really great for science or social studies. But even for math, or reading, or if you’re having them share about a story or a text that they read. I like this because it’s a little bit different, especially if you have a lot of artistic students, they like drawing. But when students start to label, you can start to see what details really stuck with your students. And then when they write that caption, it’s just a two to three sentence caption, which kind of serves as the summary.
So again, you’re sort of seeing what big concepts did they take away from it, the labels help you know what details are sticking with your students. And because they’re drawing, they don’t really feel like this is an assessment, they don’t really feel like they’re being tested on anything.
Another thing that you could do is I just called it hashtag lessons learned. And this one was always a student favorite, I think anytime we can connect something to, you know, social media or something that they use outside of school, but basically, what you want to have students do is have them come up with three hashtags that they would use if they were going to tag this lesson on social media.
And this is fun if you have students who like to express themselves creatively. And it also helps if your students can understand the main idea or the point of the lesson, because that phrasing should probably show up somewhere in their hashtag. And as an added bonus, you could always have your students draw an image that they would post on Instagram that connects to their hashtag. Or you could have them make a little video to put on tick tock that would connect to their hashtag.
But again, give them three hashtags, I think that just helps them one there have to be concise with their language, because we know hashtags aren’t sentences long. And then the fact that they have three helps them to think about like either the three most important details or the concepts. But again, just a fun way for you to see what are my students getting out of this lesson.
Another thing that you could do, this one’s kind of similar to the 10 words or less, but I call it sentence phrase words. And what you have your students do is at the end of the lesson, you have them write a detailed sentence that summarizes the lesson. And again, this is good if they’re having to write one sentence that really details it. And in that one sentence, then you’re gonna have them underline the most important phrase, and then you’re gonna have them circle the one word that is most important in the phrase.
This is great for a couple of reasons. One, we’re connecting in some grammar here, just this idea of can they write a very detailed sentence? Do they understand the difference between a sentence a phrase and a word? But then it allows you to see if they can summarize what they learned, and then really identify the key takeaway, or the topic of the lesson.
And again, because it’s open ended, I think, with a lot of these, there’s no right or wrong answer, which just means you are literally getting a picture into your students brains as far as what they’re understanding.
Another one that you could do, we called wise words. And for this one, you would have students write down one to two pieces of advice that they would give someone who was just learning this skill or topic for the first time.
Or I always think you know, if you’re going to teach this to a kindergartener, or if you’re going to go home and try to teach your mom about this subject, you know, or if you’re going into a second grade classroom, what would you tell that person or somebody who’s new to fourth grade, or fifth grade, or third grade next year, what would you tell them? You know, whatever it is.
But really have them think about if they’re going to share one to two pieces of advice with someone who is just learning the skill or topic, what would they say?
And this is great, because it again, helps you think about if you’re doing anything with a process or steps. So this works great with math. This also works great with like reading comprehension. So if you’re having your students think about summarizing a text, or identifying the main idea, or comparing and contrasting or understanding text structure, whatever it is, they get to come up with the advice.
And it’s nice because again, you don’t really know that they’re being assessed. But when you say what advice would you give, they have to be able to think about what’s the most important concept, what is the most important process, the most important steps to take.
And a lot of times these wise words are also something that another student in your class needs to hear. So this often can be a really great one to have students either share with a classmate with a friend or to have them read out loud.
I don’t know, if you listen to my podcast, Episode 53, where I talked about different ways that you can have students get up and move around during their reading block, the wise words would be a great thing to have students share iff you’re doing like loops of learning. Your students at the end of the lesson could stand in those concentric circles and share their wise words and then rotate so that way they’re communicating their wise words, but also hearing the wisdom of their classmates.
So again, wise words, it’s super easy way to assess students learning open ended, you learn a lot of information, and your students didn’t even know that they’re being tested.
The next one is I call it a three two one. And there are tons of variations of this. And it’s possible that you’ve used something similar to this but I like this one because it gives me a lot of different pieces of information and it doesn’t take a ton of time.
And again, all of these that I’m sharing, you can have your students complete on a note card on a sticky note on any scraps of paper that they have on their desk with a dry erase marker and you can walk around and circulate. It doesn’t require a ton of prep work on your part.
But at the end of the lesson, I will have students jot down three things they learned any three things could be vocabulary terms, it could be strategies, it could just be new pieces of information. Even if this is reading, it could even be about a topic or a theme. It doesn’t even need to be related to like a comprehension skill or a standard or anything.
Then I have students write down two questions or wondering, they still have. This is super helpful because it helps me as a teacher identify, what do I still need to teach on that topic? Or that specific skill? You know, is there something that students don’t understand? Or are they asking sort of these application questions or even just this idea of like inspired action? Are they making it personal? But when we see the questions that they still have that can really be informative for our instruction.
And then the last thing I have them do is I write down one thing that they still need to practice. And then this also helps me figure out, you know, who’s feeling really confident with this? Who might I need to pull in a small group or confer with, you know, whatever this topic or skill is?
So again, 321, 3 things they learned two questions they have, and one thing they still need to practice, that’s super helpful as a teacher. And again, this doesn’t take that much time.
The next one is a multiple choice assessment, but it’s a little bit different than what you might think it is. So a lot of times I will ask students to write a multiple choice question, and then provide four answer choices that could be used as an assessment for that specific lesson or unit.
And I like doing this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I like students coming up with a multiple choice question and answer choices, because it gives you an opportunity to teach them how multiple choice questions are written, how the test creator creates them, you can talk about the choices how there needs to be obviously a clear one, how there should be some distractors in there, and you can kind of break it down.
But if you can get your students especially if you can teach them a format and have them put it on a form or a piece of paper that is usable for you, you can actually then pick four to five questions to create a formal quiz or assessment to give your students and then I usually would tell my students that I’m going to give them a bonus point if I ended up picking their question to be included in the quiz.
And I love doing this because again, if you want your students to have practice with multiple choice questions, which I understand is important for test prep, I definitely think that we should limit multiple choice questions pretty much any other time of the year.
But when they’re the ones that are creating it, it becomes a lot more student centered. They understand how tests are created. And it also seems to be just less pressure for students when they’re the ones that are coming up with the question.
So this is a fun one to do. Like I said, if you’re wanting to give your students multiple choice practice, but you want it to be a little bit more engaging, and fun, let them come up with the questions. And the answer choices.
This can be great if you have just read a novel together, or if you you know, have read a shared passage, or if you’ve been studying a specific topic or theme, you can have your students at the end of the unit come up with, you know, multiple choice questions for that.
And again, it helps you see the types of questions and answer choices they’re coming up with. But then it also gives you an opportunity to create a more formal assessment based off of the choices that they came up with.
Another one that you could do is we always just call it extra extra. And I think this is another one of those like thinking routines, but what we would have students do is come up with a headline that would appear in a school newspaper, or on a news website for this lesson.
So it’s not a summary. And it’s not necessarily the main idea, it’s a little bit more sort of creative approach to having them share what they understood. So they have to come up with the headline. So it has to have you know, some sort of appeal, it has to have some sort of excitement, something that would engage the reader or the learner, but also communicate what the lesson is about.
This one’s a little bit more fun, you don’t get necessarily a ton of information from this. But again, it helps really you understand do my students understand the main point or the topic of the lesson? This could also work if you want to have them come up with a headline and then write a two to three sentence either subtopic or right in the first paragraph of an article that would appear you can definitely create this as an extension once students write the headline.
But this was just a little bit more fun and creative for students, again, gives you some information as a teacher because you can see what do they think is the most important part of the lesson and doesn’t match with what you think is the most important part of the lesson.
This next one was probably my students favorite, I always called it in my teachers shoes. And you ask your students to respond to this prompt: If I were teaching this lesson, I would make sure to dot dot dot.
And this is a great prompt to give students because it really gives me insight into each of my students learning styles. And I was really always surprised at what they would share. But it’s also helpful then because they’re having to think about how would I teach this?
And so if it’s communicating a specific step, or making sure students understand the importance of this term, or you know making sure that students have this background knowledge before they start the lesson. So I think it’s helpful for students to think about how would they teach something? And then it’s helpful for me to see what do my students need as learners.
And of course, my students always love this because they love to point out, it’s like, Hey, you’re the teacher. Maybe you forgot to do this, or I need more of this. So in some ways, it almost for them felt like they were assessing me as a teacher, but it was also really informative. And again, they didn’t know that this was like an assessment but it gave me a ton of information as a teacher.
And then the final one or just last idea that I’ll share is I just called it a brain dump. And this one is super simple. Simply set the timer for one to two minutes, and just tell students to write down everything they can remember from a lesson.
And it can be anything, it can be a specific vocabulary word, they can draw a diagram or an image, they could sketch something, they could summarize it, they could make a list whatever works for them, but you’re just giving them a chance to share anything that they remember from the lesson.
And this is good for you because you can see the specific words or phrases that students write down, you can also see how much volume of writing students are able to produce in one to two minutes. You know, if you have a student that at the end of a lesson, if you give them one to two minutes, then you know minutes, not that long.
But if you know, during a minute, they can’t even write down a word or a phrase from that lesson, then that means probably most of the lesson has gone over their head. So even just seeing the amount of writing is a visual for you, as a teacher did my students take away something from this lesson. So that can be super helpful.
So there are my 10 ideas, let me just go ahead and quickly recap them.
You can have your students write 10 words or less, you can have them draw label caption, you can do the hashtag lessons learned. You can do a sentence phrase and word, you can have them share wise words, you could do a three two one, you could have them create the multiple choice, extra extra is where they create the headline, you can have them think about what it would be like to be in my teacher’s shoes, and then finally have them do a brain dump.
And so hopefully, some of these ideas really resonate with you and you’re excited to try them out in your classroom. Like I said, especially as we’re sort of in this middle part of the year, I know that there’s going to be a lot of formal assessments happening either right now before winter break, or when you get back.
And so if you still want to gather information about your students learning at the end of your lessons, these would be really great. And like I said, kind of fun and creative ways to sort of monitor your students understanding without giving them an actual assessment.
Also, I want to make sure that you know that if some of these ideas seem appealing to you, I do have an exit ticket sticky note template, y’all know, I love printing on sticky notes. And so all of these ideas, I’ve already turned into a template, and you can grab them in my TPT store. I will link to them in the show notes.
But every single idea that I shared, takes absolutely no prep on your part. If you don’t want the templates already printed for you, you could just give your students a sticky note or a note card. I know sometimes teachers like to have the extra cute things with the font and you know how things streamline.
But all of these ideas, you could easily at the end of the lesson, pass out notecards sticky notes, whatever, a half sheet of paper to your students and have them answer it, which is great. Because if you’re maybe not as prepped or at the last minute, you need a new idea. All of these ideas could work with pretty much any lesson.
Of course, you guys know I love hearing from you. And so if you start using any of these ideas in your classroom, I would love to hear from you reach out to me on Instagram at @thestellarteachercompany or even, you know, snap a picture of your student work and tag me in your Instagram stories or your Instagram feed if you decide to try some of these ideas with your students. I not only love hearing from you, but I love seeing these ideas implemented in your classrooms as well.
So hopefully this week is an absolutely stellar week for you. I am cheering for you until you get to your winter break just a couple of weeks away. So hang in there and make sure you tune in next week for another episode of the podcast. And I’ll talk to you guys again soon.