Rethinking Schoology “Assessments”

The new “Assessments” feature in Schoology is the perfect marriage between Schoology’s familiar “Test/Quiz” material type and their Assessment Management Platform, or AMP, for short.  Interactive question-types, student test-taking tools, and a slew of other features adorn this welcome addition to the world of Schoology.  But, this new feature is called “Assessments,” so it’s just for interactive tests and quizzes, right? Is that all teachers can use it for?  Of course not!  In fact, many educators are using this new material type to enhance teaching and learning in a variety of ways.

If Schoology “Assessments” are enabled at your school, try using this feature for:

1. Student Essays

Use new question types like highlight image, short answer/essay, and highlight hotspot to combine brainstorming, pre-writing, and publishing essays into one Schoology “Assessment.”  First, upload an image of a graphic organizer and have students share their thoughts with a “highlight image” question type.  They can fill in the graphic organizer and brainstorm their thoughts (and you can watch a live replay of their work in action).  Next, have them create a brief outline using “short answer/essay” questions for each part of their paper: the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.  When they’re finished pre-writing, have students type their final draft in another essay question that’s graded with a standards-based rubric.  Finally, create a “highlight hotspot” question, upload a picture of the rubric you used, and allow students to grade themselves by selecting marks on the rubric.

2. Anticipation Guides

At the beginning of a new lesson, text, or concept we want our students engaged.  Set up a Schoology “Assessment” with pre-learning questions to build anticipation for the activity that’s about to take place.  Have them drag and drop, highlight, match, label, and order items until their hearts are content.  Then, you can look at the results from the anticipation guide, gauge each student’s level of understanding, and inform instruction from that point forward.  More importantly, students will have fun doing it!

3. Annotating/Analyzing Texts

The new combination of “highlight image” and “highlight text” questions are perfect for this use.  Upload the text you’re reading into an assessment and have students annotate, highlight, and analyze the text together as a class.  It’s the perfect way to integrate digital tools and teach your students good reading comprehension and test-taking skills.

4. Labeling Images

Admittedly, this is my favorite use for the new “Assessments” material type.  Regardless of the subject you teach, encouraging students to label images as a form of note-taking, practice, or homework is an excellent way to engage students and help them learn new concepts.  Upload a picture of the cell, the skeletal system, a map, a timeline, a plot chart, or anything else you conjure up, and have students label it correctly.  Trust me, they’ll love it!

5. Bell-Ringers

Using “Assessments” for bell-work or bell-ringers is another great way to get students engaged right at the start of class.  Use of variety of question types, get immediate formative results, and inform your instruction for the rest of class.  Plus using the “Assessments” feature for this quick-check work eliminates the negative stigma students associate with this material type.  The more quick and easy activities you complete that are “Assessments,” the less students will dread actual assessments later on.

6. Performance-Based Tasks

Another under-utilized feature of the new “Assessments” material type is using rubrics for tasks other than writing essays.  Think about this: use “Assessments” for a performance-based task, a presentation, or a project and use a “short answer/essay” question as the placeholder for your rubric.  Then, grade each student’s performance using the rubric you posted!  Students will get instant feedback and you’ll have an easy, interactive way to grade student work.

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Well, these are just a few of the ways Schoology “Assessments” transform classroom instruction.  Despite it current limitations, “Assessments” can become an integral part of your class if you rethink its use!  “Assessments” doesn’t have to mean assessment if you don’t reinforce the label.  Make it quick, make it fun, make it engaging, and most of all, make it useful to you and your students as you continue to utilize Schoology in the classroom.

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