Assessment Rocks and Sucks!

10/05/2014 06:57:00 pm

I recently facilitated a conversation with new teachers on Assessment. I very much wanted to model what active learning can look like in the classroom and I simply refuse to just talk at people for an hour without involving them in the conversation in some way (as you can tell from slide 2 below).

The format was a riff on an EdCamp classic activity called Things That Suck.

Clear the tables and chairs away. Everyone stands up in the middle of the room, me at the front. My right hand is the "Rocks" side; people stand there if they agree with the statement on the slide. They stand on my left if they disagree; the "Sucks" side. They can also stand anywhere in the middle and change their mind at any time by "voting with their feet."

Each slide is followed by a 5 minute timer. Once the timer starts anyone can call out (I facilitate this part a little bit, making sure people get a chance to speak and be heard) and say why they've chosen to stand where they are. It's always fascinating to watch people walk across the room while listening to someone else because they've changed their mind.

Pro Tip: Get a "collaborator" to play devil's advocate; preferably one of the participants rather than someone seen as a leader. Very Machiavellian, but it works. And it's fun. ;-)

Feel free to use these slides or just replicate the format to foster some interesting conversations with folks where you are. Let me know how it goes.

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  1. I really enjoyed reading this article and think that there is a lot of truth to it. I am just starting my career as a teacher and have been asked to look at other blogs to get ideas for my own. Assessment is always a tricky topic but I really like the presentation that you have created. I think students should share with teachers their fears of taking test and what works well for them or what doesn't. This is something that I would like to incorporate in my own classroom in order to create a positive and fun learning environment.

  2. Dear Sam,

    I think this is a very cool lesson! I know that student's have a lot of experience with assessment and grading and that those experiences form their opinions on the matter. I really want to know what my students think about grading and assessments. I was wondering if you take notes of what they say during this discussion or if you base your future assessments off of what they think.


  3. My first commentary dropped off into the universe somewhere, so I will be brief in this re-posting, necessary only because I want to note my appreciation for the value of this lesson. The theme of assessment moves into program evaluations and action research for educators, and using this type of interactive tool to stimulate helpful conversation about points is phenomenal; thank you. With slight modification, I can certainly take this idea and use it in my own practice.