I am not a huge fan of standardized and formal testing (shocking, I know)! I do love to use quick, informal assessment to see how the class is doing. I always ask a quick question on the way out or in the class to check for understanding. I am also working with my students to self-assess their understanding. I have these Student Self Assessment Posters posted in my room. (Click here to download your set free.) During and after a lesson I will ask students to show me a 1-2-3-4 based on their understanding. We also use the 1-2-3-4 as our grade marks on the report cards instead of A,B,C,D,F.
When I first introduced the 1-2-3-4 self assessment in my class everyone was always assessing themselves as a "4". You know how kids are, they always want to be just like everyone else. They are constantly looking around to see what their friends are holding up. To help avoid this a little, I have students get "ready" to show me their response. We rub our hands together while I say "ready, ready, ready". Then when I say "show me!" everyone has to quickly put up their answer.
I explain "Novice" and "Developing" to students as "I still need help." I use the learning to ride a two-wheel bike analogy with them. This works great since many firsties can relate very well to this. I say a 1/Novice is like "I can ride a bike, but I still need my training wheels." So then the 2/Developing student is someone who just got their training wheels taking off. "You are starting to get it, but you still want Mom or Dad to hold on to your seat and not let go." 3/Proficient is "I can do it but might need help getting started, but it it OK if Mom or Dad lets go. I may still be a little shaky, but I am good most of time." 4/Exceeds are those expert riders who really understand. They can start, go, turn and stop all by themselves. I then tell them every skill and student is different but has the same learning process. Some of us learned to ride a two-wheel bike in a day, others may have taken weeks. Some of us learned at 4 others are still working on it.
I also tell them we all start at "1" with any new skill. I tell them about me trying to learn to surf. I am very good at riding a bike and swimming. I exceed at it and was able to teach my daughters how to do both and now they exceed at it. Well my daughters and I tried to learn to surf together. We all started together as a novice. My girls quickly progressed to developing and proficient, meanwhile I am still a novice. (Just getting on the board is much harder than it looks.) As my girls now exceed at surfing, I am still developing and they help me. This story really helps them understand that we all exceed at different things and learn different skills at different rates and it is OK. It is OK to admit you are not a 3 or 4 at a skill. This doesn't mean you are not a 3 or 4 at anything!
OK now to my 1~2 table….So what exactly is my 1-2 table?? That is where the students in my class who assess themselves as a novice or developing an understanding of a particular skill will joint me for additional help sometimes. Basically my small group table. One of my students came up with the name and we all loved it! So if you are a 1-2, come on over and let's see what we can do!