We’re getting very close to the end of this blog post series… thanks for hanging in there with me!!
Let me ask you this: When you were in school, did you cover a topic and then study like crazy to take a test over it? You may or may not have done well on the test, but no matter… you started a new topic the next time you went to class.
Common practice when I was a kid was very linear. It started by introducing vocabulary, then reading and notes, then maybe an assignment or two, then a test.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
That’s why I LOVE the 5E Model! It’s definitely not linear or rigid, it is very flexible, and at its’ very core is the fifth “E” of the five “E’s”: EVALUATE.
Evaluating doesn’t have to be a monster test at the end of a unit. To me, the most important part of evaluating is the formative assessment that goes into every single activity. It’s the teacher looking for and addressing any misconceptions immediately. So really, any activity that you incorporate into your lessons is an opportunity to evaluate your students. This doesn’t mean you have to assign a grade to everything. You may notice that students are not understanding during class discussion, or small group activity. When this is the case, stopping to deal with misunderstandings when they first become apparent will save a lot of time later down the line.
I would say that the majority of evaluation is observational and formative. I like to think of evaluating as being part of every activity that we do starting with the “Engage” component of the 5E’s. For example, if during an engage activity, it becomes apparent that students are lacking background knowledge, then they need some sort of activity that helps then build a little bit of schema before moving on.
So, what are some good activities that will help you evaluate your students?
- Student responses, either verbal or written can really help you get a good idea if your students are “getting it” I like to to give my students exit tickets… nothing complicated, just something simple like an index card. I ask students to explain or describe using words and pictures, and this will usually give me a good idea of who gets it and who doesn’t.
- I like to give short quizzes (three to four questions) that can be quickly graded as students finish. I will circulate, grade as I go, and usually I can pick up on any trends in misconceptions that students are having. For example, say the correct answer is A, but the majority of the students are choosing C. This is the perfect opportunity to determine why they are choosing this answer and remediate right then. It doesn’t have to be a huge re-teach. In fact, most of the time it can be addressed fairly quickly.
- One of my favorites is the 3-2-1 activity. Students list three things they learned, two things that surprised them, and one question they still have. This allows the teacher to see not only students don’t understand, but also gives a little insight into what they do. (This could be an exit ticket as well.)
- Students respond to prompts and questions on individual white boards.
- Student Reflection Pages are helpful because they allow the student to focus on what they really learned about a topic. These can be very insightful! (Click for a freebie!!)
- Graphic organizers and concept sorts are wonderful, and students usually like doing them. (Click here for a blog post about concept sorts.)
Now having said the above, I also must say that grades are still important. After all, I am expected to post a certain number of grades each week. Being that I don’t have a lot of time in the day, I tend to stick to number one, especially since my students take the Science STAAR test in 5th grade.
- Traditional pencil / paper tests may not be that interesting, but they have they are pretty straightforward and easy to implement. I use STAAR test format questions as often as possible. Two birds, one stone.
- Project posters are a great way for students to show what they know! I usually give them a set of vocabulary that must be incorporated authentically, but from there on they can be as creative as they want to be. This type of activity makes a great “work on at home” assessment.
- Choice Boards are another alternative for formal assessments. Much like project posters, choice boards allow students to be creative, and they provide a variety of differentiated options.
- PowerPoint presentations and Google Slides… goodness do kids love these! If you are familiar with it, Canva is a great alternative (and teachers can sign up for the professional accounts for free). You can create student accounts and your kiddos can create all sorts of presentations. My students did one this past school year, and they LOVED it!
I hope you have enjoyed reading my very long and drawn out blog post series! I love comments and would love to hear your thoughts about the 5E Instructional Model!