Awesome Examples of Alternative Assessments

Alternative assessments is a shift from traditional paper-and-pencil-based assessments to creative ways of checking for learning. They are also known as authentic assessments which speaks to the real world, authentic experiences that they bring to the classroom. In the spirit of these assessments, we’re skipping the in depth theory and jumping right into examples of lessons you can use in your classroom.

Slope of the stairs


Ben Mook, a teacher from the School of the Future in New York, has his students apply slope formula to a set of stairs to see if they were in compliance with New York City building codes. Through this activity, the formula is no longer just a formula, but a tool to solve a real life problem. These “relevant assessments” at the School of the Future are being challenged to approach problems in the way a scientist, historian, or writer would approach a problem.

If characters had Instagram



One teacher in Michigan put a spin on traditional book reports by asking students to use their imagination in creating an Instagram account for the characters in their stories. After deciding what picture a character would post on Instagram, students were asked to select a location of the photo, who would “like” the photo, who would comment, and what the people would comment. Students thought about the relationships of characters when crafting their responses, and used examples from the story to support their thought process. One girl even drew a picture from a “bird’s eye view” of a landscape because her character was a bird.

Student-run help desk



At Burlington High School in Massachusetts, students run a help desk where they educate and assist others with technology. “It’s about as real world as it gets,” says Mrs. Scheffer who teaches the class. “Student posts literally viewed by hundreds, if not thousands of readers from all over the world.” Part of the help desk curriculum is researching apps and reviewing them via blog posts for their peers. And if that’s not real world enough, student have to interview for a spot in the help desk class.

LEGO chemical reactions



In this lab, students are asked to use LEGO to model what happens in a chemical reaction. Students build molecules using LEGO pieces, disassemble, then reassemble them based on what happens in a chemical reaction. The concept of conservation of matter is reinforced when students see that all the atoms from the reactants are used to create the final products. For full lab, see the teacher’s guide.

Prepositions with Batman

batman prepositions


One teacher employed Batman and a couple cups to teach and assess prepositions. The idea is to put Batman in different positions relative to the cups and ask the students, “Where is Batman?”

What types of alternative assessments do you use in your classroom? Share in the comments, or, if you’re in the Boston-area, join us at the Gradeable Social on Thursday and let’s talk assessments! 

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