Teachers are always looking for ways to check for understanding. Assessment tools come in many shapes and sizes. They can be quick and light or more in-depth. In the end, assessment can happen anytime in any classroom. Many versatile and effective assessment tools can make their way into a teacher’s repertoire. That’s what the list below is meant to provide.

The student brain is a complex mystery we may never fully understand. So the assessment tools we use give us glimpses into that complexity. They’re meant to provide markers along any students’ learning pathway. It helps us to adjust our approaches and methodologies accordingly. In doing so, we reach all students better.

The following 7 assessment tools are quick and easy tools for anytime/anywhere assessment. Use them to get useful information for instruction planning and lesson building.

1. Quick Summaries

Students can be asked to summarize important lessons or concepts. You can even add a summary challenge using social media. Have them Tweet their summaries, for example. The challenge there is that the limit is 140 characters. Students must be concise and brief with their entries.

2. Open-Ended Questions

These are content questions that really get students thinking about what they’ve learned. They can chat about or write their responses. Try not to use closed questions like “did this make sense to you?” The answer will usually be Yes, even if it isn’t true. Instead, give students a chance to really think about the learning that took place. Use the free Essential Questions Guide to help you form the right questions.

3. Student Interviews

This is similar to Think-Pair-Share. It happens at the end of the class. It’s meant to be a casual discussion of the learning that happened in that period. Groups of 2 or 3 students take a few minutes at the end of class to discuss what they’ve learned. Each student takes a turn interviewing the other.

You can give them guiding questions for this exercise. Get them asking each other things like:

  • What was the most useful thing you learned?
  • What did you struggle most with?
  • What will you ask for help with next class?
  • What can you do to help somebody else learn better?
  • What’s your learning goal for next class?

4. Daily Learning Journals

This is a daily brief reflection exercise. It lets students privatize their experiences in their own words on a personal level. As far as assessment tools go, this is one that some students may resist. Some may not enjoy writing daily reflections. If so, offer up some alternatives.

They could do it using screen casting or simple audio recoding if they wish. Younger students can create vision boards or collages, relating imagery to what they’ve learned. They may also choose to share their excerpts on a class blog or web page. This is a great classroom community-building exercise.

5. Peer Teaching

Assessment tools used by other students are a great way to check for understanding. You know students have truly learned a concept when they can teach it to other students. This can be done in groups of 2 or 3, but that’s a recommended limit. Bigger groups require the kind of attention-wrangling skills students don’t yet possess. Keep it smaller and more effective.

6. Quick-Draw Showdown

This one is a fun competitive exercise. Square two students off against each other. Their goal is to quickly write down a sentence or draw a quick sketch about a learning concept. It works better if they are both using the same thing. When you say “Go!” the fun begins. The first one to finish wins the quick draw.

7. Self-Grading

Students can use this one to grade their own progress. Have them give themselves a grade on the material covered. They must then explain why they feel they’ve earned that grade.


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