It can be tricky to assess young children. You don’t want to put them through written tests, but you do want to understand what they’re learning. To get a good grasp of what stage of their learning they are at, it’s necessary to do some formative, continuous assessment.
There are many things that can be done throughout lessons to give you an idea of how your class is doing. Here are some ideas…
Brainstorming and creating mind maps
This activity is perfect both to assess prior knowledge and to see how much your students have learned at the end of studying a topic. It can be done in smaller groups or with the whole class, and gives you as a teacher a chance to see how much your students already know about a topic. You can also find out what misconceptions students might have.
Once you’ve finished studying a topic, you can create a new mind map and compare it to the original. This way, both you and your students get an overview of what they have learned!
Group or one-to-one discussions
Again, this activity can be used both to assess prior knowledge and to check what students have learned at the end. Simply put students in pairs or in small groups and ask them to discuss what they think they know about a topic, while you walk around listening to them.
Repeat this exercise at the end of a topic, and ask your students to explain to each other what they have learned. A good way to ask them to phrase it is “I used to think X, now I think X, and it’s because…” This allows them to reflect on their own learning and how they’ve progressed.
If you give tasks, drawings, questionnaires or similar to your students to complete, have them compare answers with a peer once they’re done. Ask them to think about whether their answers are different, and if so why, and what they could do to change this. This allows children to take responsibility for their own learning and to reflect on their progress.
The traffic card system
This system is a perfect way for you as a teacher to get a visual overview of how your students are doing. At the end of a lesson or a series of lessons, ask your students to rate their knowledge of various issues or topics either red, yellow, or green. Red means they still struggle, yellow means they understand a bit, but not completely, and green means they are 100% comfortable with the topic. This means you’ll be able to see which students are struggling and might need more help, and also what topics are proving challenging and need to be revisited!
Games and activities
To add some fun into assessment, why not use games and activities? Tigtag lessons contain review films with activities like “Odd One Out”, “True or False?” and “Spot the Difference.” These are perfect to play for your class, letting them guess the right answers. Tigtag Jr also includes digital games and quizzes that provide engaging ways for children to assess their learning.
Assessing primary children is really about making sure they understand what they’re learning, and for teachers to be able to encourage them to progress. Regular formative assessment is absolutely key, and if you’re using these ideas it really doesn’t have to be strenuous – it can simply be a natural part of each lesson.