Jodi PosadasIt’s March. Many schools are in the final countdown before state-mandated standardized testing across the United States.  However, that doesn’t mean we must start ‘test prep’ or stop doing projects. It should simply mean we continue to engage students in inquiry around various content areas and assess their learning to better support the needs they have.Assessment season is an opportunity to try out a few new ways to gather data, then challenge ourselves to use these formative checkpoints to guide more targeted instruction and support based on individual growth and development. It is also the perfect time for students to show us how they understand something.Need help with some ideas for how to do this? Over the next few weeks, I will share four ways to assess learning and prepare students for more than standardized testing.Week OnePRE-ASSESSMENT(through Knows and Need to Knows)During my second year of practicing PBL, I began to see the value of my students’ knows and need-to-knows as pre-assessment data points. I noticed the authenticity of these to the students and watched as they took ownership over their learning through the consistent revision.  Pre assessing students in this way allows us to gather data which neither grades nor ranks kiddos, but rather helps to purposefully plan scaffolding for their learning based on real needs.Clive Learning Academy’s second grade team shared their knows and need-to-knows during a recent showcase, and I couldn’t help but marvel at the interaction evidenced on their poster. What learning do you see displayed in this chart? What data points could you gather about students if this was in your classroom?What would happen if we took the need-to-know list and noticed when each student showed mastery of each question?  I’d like to think that we would start to value the dynamic use of creating knows and need-to-knows as pre-project and ongoing assessments of learning.Jodi Posadas is the Elementary Coach for New Tech Network.Read parts two, three and four of this series.

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