Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rigor and Assessment

Consider this: you’ve developed and taught a challenging, rigorous unit, with support built in to each lesson to enhance instruction and student comprehension. Now it’s time to determine the extent to which your students have learned and can demonstrate their understanding at high levels. Can you count on what and how you’ve taught to be enough? If only it were so simple.
You have to plan and implement appropriate and logical assessments. These assessments should be challenging, varied, and formative. Be creative, but in such a way that the assessments you develop support your students’ understanding that what they have been studying has real world applicability. Seek to move beyond question-and-answer tests. Guide your students to think, process, and make connections. Pose higher-level questions, and attempt to have your students pose some higher-level questions of their own. Have a purpose and think quality!
I will leave you with an excerpt of a story I share in Rigor. Scott Bauserman, a social studies teacher at Decatur High School in Indiana, shares an experience he had when he asked his students to develop a game to demonstrate what they learned from a social studies unit. His goals were for the finished product to teach about the topic, use appropriate vocabulary and processes, and be fun to play. His results were inspiring….
Students had to construct the game, the box, provide pieces and a board, and write the rules. I received a wide variety. One game I will always remember was about how a bill gets passed into law. We spent time [in class] talking about all the points where a bill in Congress or the state General Assembly could be killed, pigeon-holed, or defeated. The student took a box the size of a cereal box, set up a pathway with appropriate steps along the way, constructed question/answer cards, and found an array of tokens for game pieces. If a player answered a question correctly, he or she would roll the dice and move along the path to passage. But the student had cut trap doors at the points where a bill could be killed, and if a player landed on a trap door/bill-stopper, the player to the right could pull a string, making that player’s token disappear from the board. The player would have to start over. Not a bad game from a student who has fetal alcohol syndrome and is still struggling to pass his classes.

What is a creative assessment you have used in addition to a test?

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