It's getting towards the end of the year and of course, that means lots of assessments. I try to use a wide variety over the course of year, so by the end of April it's getting a bit more challenging to add a new one.
Recently, we just completed an assessment that is both a personal favorite and a favorite of students. I call it "If You Wrote the Test." The concept is simple really - students write the exam and answer key for the unit we are studying. If you can teach it; you understand it. In this case, the students have to show what they know. This is one of the best assessments I have used to gauge mastery.
Here's what I find works:
- Give specific guidelines on the events, vocabulary, people etc that you expect to be included. In some ways this is similar to a review sheet.
- Be clear on the types of questions that need to be included (or should not be included): short answer, fill in the blank, multiple choice, map identities, essay to name a few.
- Be specific on length of exam. I found without specifying the link of the exam that students turn in surprisingly short tests or tests that are so long that they would take multiple days to complete
- Don't forget the answer key: Students need to write an answer key. I have students print the exams and write the key long-hand or if it is a digital exam, students make a copy of the slides and fill in the answer key. Either way an answer key is part of their assessment.
- A second round of assessment: sometimes I have students take each other's exams (anonymous of course) in a collaborative activity. I select a few exams and then each group completes one of the exams. I tend to do this for one of three reasons: the exams students wrote on average did not show mastery and extra time with the material is needed; students benefit from seeing how others approached the subject; or for review as we get towards the end of the term.
This is one of the students favorite assessments. I have found it to be effective in 8th grade and up or with highly gifted students.
The big benefits I have found to this kind of assessment:
- Students are engaged with the role reversal of being the "teacher."
- Students examine material in greater depth than when preparing for an exam written by me.
- Students write very challenging exams for others.
- A greater percentage of students demonstrate mastery than with traditional assessments.
If you are running out of ideas, give it a shot. You will be surprised at how challenging an exam your students can write.