How do you assess? Do you go by how much time it takes to grade? Do you make your students write an essay because you need a writing sample for data? Do you give them a project you can glance at, use a rubric, and assign a grade?
Full disclosure- in my 19 years, I have given assessments that fit all of these. Truthfully, I am still looking for ways to assess that go beyond objective questions but don’t take me hours to grade. One of the best assignments I have come across in my career is The One Pager. See how I capitalized that? It should really be THE One Pager because it’s that amazing. One pagers are a snapshot of what a students knows about a book, but also includes critical thinking, analysis, and visual representation. It’s also graded with a rubric. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? IT IS.
In the interest of staying with full disclosure, it took a couple of years to tweak my rubric so that it met my expectations and gave the kids a true picture of what they earned in terms of effort, completion, originality, and overall knowledge. The first year, I was having to give kids better grades than I thought they’d earned because I wasn’t specific enough with my rubric. I’m sure that happens a lot when you start using a new assignment.
Examples of Greatness
For the first piece last year, my 8th graders read A Separate Peace. Their culminating assignment was a one pager. Here are a few examples of the work I got from them:
Pretty cool, huh? Basically, the one pager includes the following elements:
On the front they include
- the title and author
- the setting
- a quote they feel was significant to the story
- an analysis of the quote explaining its significance
- 5 adjectives describing the story
- a list of characters
- one higher-level question (short answer)
- the answer to the question
- 3 symbols that represent the story
The front should also be covered in artwork that conveys meaning. It could be a scene, images from the story, representational borders around the elements…they get to use creativity to cover the page, but it should be COVERED.
On the back, they write a one page summary and put their name, the date, and class period.
All the Amazingness
That’s it. Amazing, right? Now, let me tell you, the pictures above are great examples, but I feel like maybe I ought to have also taken and included pictures of the duds. And there were a few, let me tell you. That’s no fun though. Suffice it to say that you never get great work from all your students. You try, but it doesn’t usually work that way.