40 Creative Ways to Assess without Being An Ass

Teachers. I beg of you. Don’t let them redefine education.

Here is the definition of the word “assessment”


See that. An evaluation of the nature, quality, or ability of someone. Example given is perfectly clear:  “a teacher’s assessment”.

But, look at today’s colleges … look at the new definition of assessment:

assessment 2

Assessment is the process of gathering data?

Says who?


Since when is an evaluation of someone’s nature or ability reduced to the gathering of data? Since when is that OK?

And, since when do we need to hire a company to score our children, especially a company making revenues off our children to the tune of 8.2 billion dollars?

Billions. Seriously?

Do we not trust our teachers? I know I do.

Granted, I am a teacher, so some might say that makes me biased, but fact is, like a cook in his own restaurant, I am actually more critical. I’ve been in the kitchen, you know?

But, I trust the teachers who commit their lives to teaching my children. And, if I don’t, I trust my administration to help me find a suitable match. And, if they don’t, I trust my school board to handle the situation and to offer me choices. And, if they don’t, I trust the public to vote in folks who will. You get the picture?

I trust the humans in my community to help me raise my children. I don’t trust Pearson. If I did, my children wouldn’t be in public schools, they would be in Pearson schools.

Get it?

I trust the system. I don’t trust Pearson.

Do you? I mean, seriously teachers … you’ve seen the tests.

So, why give data mongers and big billionaires like Pearson all the control?

We have other choices. Trust yourself. Speak Up.

Speak up in meetings. Speak up in PLC. Speak up at your school boards. Speak up in your media. Speak up.

PS – Here are the 40 Ways to Assess without Being An Ass. Can you add to the list? Comment below:

Via TeachHub: 

When people think of assessment, pencils and bubble sheets may be the first things that come to mind. Assessment does not always have to involve paper and pencil, but can instead be a project, an observation, or a task that shows a student has learned the material.

In the end, all we really want to know is that the skill was mastered, right?  Why not make it fun and engaging for students as well?

Many teachers shy away from alternative assessments because they take extra time and effort to create and to grade. On the other hand, once the assessment guidelines and grading rubric are created, it can be filed away and used year after year.

The project card and rubric can be run on card stock (one on each side of the page), laminated, and hole punched with other alternative assessment ideas.  Keep them all together in a binder or with an o-ring.  Assessment just became a snap!

Here are 40 alternative assessment ideas to get you started!

Alternative Assessments


1. Bookmark

Create a bookmark to match the theme of the last book read.


2. Time Capsule

Put together a group of 5 things from the story of the week.


3. Stuffed Animal

Students can make a stuffed animal that matches the theme of the story read.


4. Business Card

Summarize the story by designing a business card (this will be harder than it sounds).


5. Radio Show

Create a radio program that is set in the same time as the book.


6. Recipe

Make a recipe (or just the instructions) for something that a character in the story might make.


7. Paper Doll

More geared towards the younger set, this activity involves creating paper dolls and costume changes for the characters in the story.


8. Wanted Poster

Make a wanted poster for the antagonist in the book.


Alternative Writing Assessments


9. Eulogy

Write a eulogy for a word that is overused in the student’s own writing samples.


10. Infomercial

Students will tape a segment that uses persuasion.


11. Bumper Sticker

Design a bumper sticker with a catchy slogan for each of the writing genres.


12. PowerPoint

Pairs can create a slideshow about their writing process from start to finish.


13. Newscast

Students can form teams to create a news program about writing conventions (run-on sentences, spacing, punctuation, etc.)


14. Comic Strip

Draw a comic strip that shows examples of figurative language.


15. Brochure

Create a brochure that explains the steps involved when writing for different audiences.


16. Survey

Create a survey of students’ favorite writing styles or writing pet peeves.  Make a graph that explains the results.


Alternative Math Assessments


17. Acrostic Poem

Using one math term, such as geometry or algebra, make an acrostic poem.


18. Internet Resource List

Students will find a list of websites that explain the current math concepts correctly.


19. Readers’ Theater

Perform a readers’ theater that is all about the current topic.


20. Crossword Puzzle

Use the vocabulary from the assessed chapter to create a crossword puzzle, including the design and matching clues.


21. Scrapbook Page

Each student makes a page that describes a certain vocabulary word. Combine them to provide a future review tool for students.


22. Paint By Number

More artistically-inclined students may want to create a paint by number portrait that includes math terms and examples. They can also write and solve problems that match the paint-by-number answers.


23. Pattern

Find a pattern in the current math unit that can be explained.


24. Collage

Using magazines, students can cut up and paste math strand examples.


Alternative Science Assessments


25. Help Wanted Ad

Write an ad to find a “professor” who can help to explain the subject at hand.


26. Singing Telegram

More musically-inclined students may love to create a song about the latest chapter.


27. Calendar

Mark on a calendar (paper or electronic copy) the time frame for how long it takes to see changes in a scientific event (such as erosion or plants growing).


28. Diary

Pen a diary entry from a famous scientist.


29. Advice Column

Students write advice to an “anonymous friend” who has a scientific problem that needs solved.


30. Trivia Game

Students create the questions (and answers) that will be used in a review game.


31. T-shirt

Design a t-shirt that matches the current science concepts.


32. Experiment

No explanation needed for this one.


Alternative Social Studies Assessments


33. Cheer

Compose a cheer for someone in history who has struggled through something in your latest unit.


34. Fashion Sketch

Draw an example of what a person would wear from the era being studied.


35. Toy

Create a drawing (or a prototype) of a toy that might have been used from the children of that specific time period.


36. Documentary

Recreate an important historical event.


37. Family Tree

Research the family tree of a famous historical person.


38. Time Line

Students create a class timeline as they study different eras.  Post the master time line up in the classroom and add as new eras are learned.


39. Speech

Memorize and recite an important historical speech.


40. Museum Exhibit

Students each create a museum “artifact” and set them up in the classroom as a museum, where they will stand next to their artifact to explain and answer questions from visitors.  Invite other classes or parents to come do a walkthrough of your museum.


Woops. Did I say ass?


I meant to say boycott.



For more GatorBonBC Snark – Check out GrassRoots Mom Podcast





The Real Reason You Don’t Want President Obama to Pick the Next Supreme Court Justice

OK. Let me just put this out there. I’m guessing since I’ve been a card carrying, blue dog democrat, for decades, I have earned the right to say it. So here goes.

I hope the Republicans do block President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination.

Yup. I don’t trust him. I did once.

I definitely don’t anymore.

Go ahead. Attack away at me for saying it. But, tell me this.

Do you trust a man who gave you Rahm Emmanuel, Arne Duncan, The Race to the Top, and John King?

Nope. Neither do I.



For more snark by GatorbonBC, check out my podcast: GrassRoots Mom

One Parent’s Polite Response – #Rheediculous – Money Over Children ? #TryAgainRhee

A few days ago, many parents here in Florida received an email from a representative of Michelle Rhee’s organization, Students First. The person who wrote the email is Catherine Robinson. Apparently, she works for the organization ran by Michelle Rhee.  

(I refuse to link to Rhee’s Student First website – but you may google ‘Students First’ to find the web address. It is easy to find. Her link sits right below this link: Rhee Under Investigation | nytimes.com )

So, about this email. Apparently, Ms. Robinson offered Florida parents a chance to win a $5 gift card. The parents were encouraged to go online and jump from article to article. They were encouraged to write ‘polite’ comments in favor of  Rhee’s idea of ‘transformative’ (corporate) education reform.

I will not go into the details of Michelle Rhee’s vision for education. If you want to learn more, you can google the name “Michelle Rhee” or attend one of her conferences. They must be incredible as I hear she charges $35,000 a pop to speak.  I am not sure if you get refreshments for that price, but I have also heard that her conferences are “BYOMT”(bring your own masking tape).

Anyhow, back to the email sent to Florida parents…

Not long after the email went out, a FL activist for public education, Bob Sikes, wrote this article: Michelle Rhee’s Florida Rep Calls for Astroturf Campaign on Parent Trigger – The link for that article is found here: http://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/michelle-rhees-florida-rep-calls-for-astroturf-campaign-on-parent-trigger/#comments

Remarkably, Ms. Robinson then defended her email in the comments below the article and even managed to insult parents in her comments, despite her repeated advice to ‘be polite’. She also defended Rhee’s Students First organization. Feel free to check out her comments. I did and I decided to respond.

Here is my response: 

Ms. Robinson,

You write: “And so now I’m organizing over 119,000 Florida parents, teachers and concerned citizens.” … I politely ask you to verify those numbers.

Why do I not believe that 119,000 people in Florida agree with you? Let me politely explain.

I am also an advocate. I also interact/organize tens of thousands of parents. I have yet to ever meet one that agrees with Students First’s ‘transformative’ reform. So, I am politely interested as to where you get the number “119,000″.

I might also add, politely, that many on the Rhee website did not join out of support for your policies. Many joined to keep an eye on the destructive policies of your organization. Many others joined by mistake after signing a poll regarding Trayvon — the Students First pop up upon signature tricked quite a few of us.

I politely remind you, Ms. Robinson, that very few people in FL or elsewhere agree with excessive standardized testing, selling out public schools to corporate charters, or destroying communities by closing schools. We politely ask you and Students First to stop.

As far as politeness, I might politely remind you to practice what you preach. It is funny that you use the word ‘vitriol’ to describe Florida’s parents. I have heard that word ‘vitriol’ thrown at us parents before. (see link:http://wp.me/pWHfU-cy ).

I stand, politely, in disbelief. Why be so insulting? I politely suggest that you be more polite.

To say parents are full of “vitriol” is unbelievably rude not polite, I might politely add. You do remember that we parents are, in fact, the parents, don’t you? How can you, Rhee’s Students First organization, Jeb’s ‘Foundation for FL’s Failure’, or any other organization claim to represent parents while also insulting those parents and hurting their children with harmful policies?

So, I politely ask: What exactly do you have against caring parents?

Perhaps this is why you are offering gift cards for polite comments? If so, I politely applaud you for finally reminding those involved in your organizations to be polite.

That, I might politely add, is long overdue.

Polite enough? 

Oh, and not to be impolite, but you can keep your money. My kids are worth more than 5 bucks.


Picture Link

Why is NAACP promoting vouchers in FL ? We say NO – Separate is STILL not Equal. -Response to Rev Manuel Sykes, NAACP letter in Tampa Bay Times 6/14/12

It is difficult to counter an article written by a Reverand and the NAACP. For a moment, I was speechless.


I found my voice.


Here is my response / comment to the writer of the 6/14/12 article in the Tampa Bay Times entitled, Florida program gives disadvantaged a chance to succeed in school by The Rev. Manuel Sykes, special to the Times, Pastor of Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg and President of the St. Petersburg chapter of the NAACP.


Rev Sykes, with respect, I am confused? 

I understand this document: “The NAACP resolution on charter schools – In a process established by the NAACP Constitution, this resolution was adopted by the delegates to the 101st Annual Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, during the legislative session in July, 2010. It was subsequently ratified by the NAACP National Board of Directors at its meeting on October 15, 2010. This resolution is now the policy of the Association, and is “binding on the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, the Officers, and all units.” 

Link to NAACP resolution:

But, I do not understand your opinion. I wonder how you support vouchers as a representative of the NAACP? As a public ed activist, teacher, parent, and Hispanic, I have many objections to vouchers and the privatization of public schools. I believe separate is still not equal, never was, never will be. 

It is apparent that the NAACP agrees, as evident in their above resolution.

Are you speaking for the NAACP with this opinion ?
Much respect and concern from FL

This is the news I usually see from the NAACP regarding vouchers. 

” RALEIGH – The North Carolina NAACP and representatives from several organizations gathered at the state legislature yesterday. They delivered an open letter to House Speaker Tom Tillis’ office that protests what they called the state’s regressive school voucher program. The letter states the ‘Stam plan,’ a reference to Republican lawmaker Paul Stam, would cause the state to lose much-needed revenue from the private sector. The plan gives corporations the option of diverting money they owe to the state to private nonprofits to finance private schools.” Video on link



I tweeted NAACP CEO Ben Jealous:

@BenJealous Public ed activist/teacher/mom here with a question: -> http://goo.gl/lcZ1N Is the NAACP in FL standing up for vouchers?


 NAACP Resolution on Charter Schoolshttp://bit.ly/KwuLbF QUES: @BenJealous so why this now in FL?http://goo.gl/lcZ1N #Help


Excellent responses from Dr. Diane Ravitch

@gatorbonBC  Pulling the wool over the eyes of the gullible. No black or poor child helped when public sector destroyed.

@gatorbonBC @BenJealous Big money is pushing vouchers. Big money is not pushing civil rights issue. That’s the mask.


I am hoping to hear from the NAACP regarding this Tampa Bay Times article. We shall see.


Further reading: The voucher double standard on accountability, with a twist

By Sherman Dorn on June 13, 2012 


“While I am no cheerleader for Florida’s accountability system, if we are asking students with disabilities in local public schools to take FCAT and for schools and school districts to be responsible for their outcomes,  it is a double standard to let schools receiving public funding through the McKay program to be let off the hook.” 

Shame on NPR – Never Underestimate The Power of Parents – National Resolution on High Stakes Testing

Response to article entitled, “Five Reasons the Anti-FCAT Resolutions Won’t Work” printed in NPR publication :

In my opinion, the premise of the writer’s opinion is flawed. The National Resolution on High Stakes Testing, written by parent organizations and endorsed by hundreds of counties across the nation, is not an anti FCAT resolution. It is a proactive resolution on the entire high stakes testing culture. It is proactive as it encourages parents to make their opinions known. Parents standing resolved with teachers, counties, and legislators will make a difference. I encourage parents and others to speak up on testing and seek more valid, well rounded forms of assessments. 

There is an assumption that parents are helpless… that they can not win.
That is not true. We vote our leaders in, we will vote them out. It is silly to underestimate the fierceness of a mother lion when protecting her cub. We will stand resolved against high stakes testing for our children/cubs. We will make a difference… with NCLB, RTTT, Common Core, or whatever unfunded testing mandate they name next.
I am confident in parents.
Try reading Dr. Diane Ravitch, instead.  Link to article here: When Parents Awaken, Game Over.