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Sharing assessment & grading strategies that help students learn

It's pretty common for a teacher to finish a lesson and still have a few minutes left until the class period ends  Here is an extremely easy and practical way to turn those remaining minutes into a meaningful AFL opportunity.  

Instead of allowing students to sit and talk quietly until the bell rings, these few minutes can be used as a chance for the teacher to assess his or her students so that the teacher and the students know how well content was mastered that day - and so that they can identify areas that need improvement.  The use of AFL flashcards is a simple way to do this.

You will need to create a set of flashcards for each desk in your room.  There will be 2 cards per desk.  Card 1 will have an A on the front and a B on the back.  Card 2 will have a C on the front and a D on the back.  You might want to make a pouch out of paper and tape it to the edge of the desk.  The 2 flashcards can go in this pouch so that the students always have them handy.

Have you ever finished a lesson by asking questions about the lesson only to have very limited response from students?  Perhaps a small handful of students are answering your questions or even asking additional questions, but many in the room have mentally "checked out" and are just waiting for the bell to ring.  It seems as though the following question, "Do you have any questions about what we learned?" in student-language means "Go ahead and pack up and start forgetting everything we did".  Your new flashcards should change this situation.  

Ask all students to pull out their flashcards.  Begin asking the entire class questions about the day's content.  You could even ask about content learned on previous days.  Ask easy question, hard questions, simple questions, and complex questions.  Ask the type of questions you expect them to know for a test.  They will answer by holding up the appropriate flashcard.  You will be able to see how the class as a whole is doing and also how each individual student is doing.  The students will gain a more useful review than they would have from the normal question/answer period at the end of class, and, therefore, will be better able to assess their own level of understanding.

You could use the cards to represent various types of answers.  For example:

  • A,B,C,D could be multiple choice answers.  
  • A could equal true, and B could equal false.  
  • A could equal "I can answer that", and B could equal "I am unable to answer that".  
  • A could mean "I completely understand that topic". B could mean "I sort of understand but am not ready to take a test on it", and C could mean "I do not understand the topic".    



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Comment by Scott Habeeb on January 28, 2011 at 5:46am
PK - I really like the sign language idea
Comment by Paula Kay Gerrol on January 21, 2011 at 12:00pm
I agree this is a productive review. However I use it without the cards. Cards are something else to keep up with. So I teach my students how to use sign language for A,B,C,& D and they just sign their answer to
Comment by Patrice Sanders on January 19, 2011 at 9:36am

Simple and productive use of time!

Comment by George Minor Hill Jr. on January 18, 2011 at 2:44pm

Good post Scott.  The benefits would be easy to see in this scenerio. Thanks


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