Authentic Assessments: Breaking the Paper Test Cycle

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When you think of testing, do any of these statements come to mind?

“I want to see what my students have learned at the end of each chapter.”

“I want to make sure I’m teaching effective lessons.”

“My administrator says I have to have a certain number of scores in my grade book.”

“I’d like to see the strengths and weaknesses of each student so I can know how to differentiate my instruction.”

We’re all familiar with national standardized testing, the numerous true/false or multiple choice tests a teacher gives throughout a school year, along with the benefits these assessments can provide.  One school of thought says that assessments are a key component of learning because it helps students see how well they understand subject specific material.  Others say assessments can help motivate students.  Still, testing often feels like a necessary evil that all teachers must do to show evidence that students have learned the content teachers worked so hard to teach.

I’d like you to consider looking at the way you assess your students through a different lens.  What if your student assessments consisted of noting missed cues while a child reads from a real book; recognizing correct or incorrect grammar usage and punctuation in a student’s essay or hypothesis in Science; or the actual act of using measurement to build a raised garden bed as opposed to solely using typical paper, true/false, or multiple choice assessments?  Assessments do come in all forms!

If you’re differentiating your instruction for students in the classroom, then differentiating the way your students are assessed is a strategy for best practice.  To me, it makes sense why, in school, I thrived with hands-on and oral work, but struggled taking paper tests; I’m still a horrible paper test-taker, but ask me to “show” you how something applies to a real life scenario, and I’ll nail it all day long. That’s what a REAL Assessment or Authentic Assessment is all about!  You might have heard the terms, Performance Assessment, Alternative Assessment, or Direct Assessment-all common names for the Authentic Assessment.  These kinds of assessments ask students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they’ve learned when applying them to real-world tasks— then measuring their performance against a set of pre-determined criteria in the form of a rubric.  REAL Assessments value the thought behind the work and the process, as much as the finished product.

So, before you start planning all of your paper tests, consider learning more about and creating a real, authentic assessment. Your students will welcome the opportunity to show their knowledge in a new way! 

 

“Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted, counts." -Albert Einstein

-You have just read part one of a series on Authentic Assessments. Are you ready for part two? Click here.

Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.

 

The Artistry of Appositives

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One of my favorite strategies to teach writers is the effective use of appositives. I like to show kids how appositives, like prepositional phrases, can create a wonderful context for the sentence.

So, what’s wrong with adjectives? 

Usually, with younger writers, we might simply encourage the use of strong adjectives to be placed in front of nouns, and the adjectives work just fine. But in order to help your slightly older kids to elevate their writing, teach them the artistry of appositives. We don’t want students to think that adjectives are the only tool in their Parts of Speech Tool Chest. There are other ways to modify nouns and pronouns. To help build an appreciation for selecting just the right way to say something, appositives are a good go-to.

A positive what?!? 

Appositives are phrases that you set off with commas, and you usually position them just after the word you want described. The appositive is really just a renaming or modified version of the word it follows. Here is an example from one of the Mover and Shaker Sentence activities featured in Shurley English:

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In this case, we have the direct object noun, Jackson’s Market. Notice that I have set the appositive off with a comma just before the phrase and right after it. Then, by strategically placing the appositive just after Jackson’s Market, I have modified the direct object without listing simple adjectives in front of it. It adds a bit of zing to the sentence, don’t you think?

Give it a try.

When your young writing scholar has scraped the bottom of the adjective bucket, it’s time to refill the bucket with some appositives. You can help writers get used to this strategy by brainstorming some basic nouns and appositive phrases that do a good job of modifying them. Keep your list of nouns and appositives handy by posting a Matching Wall of Words, specially designed to help writers find just the right appositive phrases to go with the noun of their choice. Over time, the use of appositives will become second nature. So, get out there and practice the skill of writing with appositives.

 

Comment /Source

David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.

 

He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.

How to Use the Hyphen Correctly

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Knowing how to use punctuation marks correctly is important in any type of writing.  As many of you know, it takes years of practice to apply punctuation rules like an expert.  Recently, the proper use of a hyphen sparked my curiosity, and even though I’ve been using hyphens for years, I decided it was time to revisit the rules for using that “little line.” 

A hyphen is a punctuation mark (-) that is used to form some compound words and adjectives. It is also used to connect the syllables of a word that has been divided at the end of a line. The rules for using a hyphen are straightforward, but a writer can choose to add them for clarity if necessary.  Let’s take a look at the rules!

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Whether you’ve tried to use a hyphen in your writing or completely avoided them like so many do, now that you know the rules, you can try adding them once in a while.  The use of hyphens can add voice and personality to your writing! So, go have some fun experimenting with hyphens! 

 

1 Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.