Category Archives: Amanda Lyons

Assessment Alternatives

Although I teach in a project based learning and standards based grading school, the standards are not always a part of the final product, but are assessed along the way as they are foundational knowledge for it.  So it seems I still end up having students writing short essays to explain the standards for most assessments.

I was looking for some ways to shake this up so students did not just have to write for every assessment. Here are two ideas that I came up with. The first was to have students create a short presentation of primary source images. Then students screencasted themselves explaining why they chose the images and how the pictures explained the standard.

The second was for students to sketch pictures to explain the standard. I have been thinking about visuals lately especially after meeting Amanda Lyons at Educon and seeing her great visual notes (check our her blog Visuals for Change). I showed them RSA Animate ‘s site and some of their videos as an example of images supporting someone’s thoughts. (If you want to make real RSA style videos check out this post from Paul Bogush.)

Amanda Lyons Community Mural at Educon

 Since I wanted this to be quick and easy for assessment I just asked the students to draw their pictures and then either write some sentences next to them explaining the drawings or come explain their sketches to me verbally. I wanted the process to be simple since I was more interested in their visual thoughts than I was in creating a video.

How do you encourage visual thinking in your classroom? What are alternative ways of assessment that you use to keep it fresh?