Summer is a great time to check out those educational resources you just didn’t have time for during the school year. While not exactly light beach reading, these comprehensive websites will get you up to speed on popular and important topics.

Authentic Assessment

Jon Mueller, professor of psychology at North Central College, defines authentic assessment as a process that uses “real world tasks to demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills” and can be a companion piece to traditional assessment. Mueller describes the difference as a continuum:

 Authentic Assessment

Mueller’s “Authentic Assessment Toolbox” is a rich resource, which includes standards, tasks, rubrics, portfolios and content area examples.

Authentic Assessment Overview” from Teacher Vision describes five types of performance samples that can be used in authentic assessment:

  1. Performance Assessment – collaborative, skill-based problem solving that could include writing, analyzing or other teamwork.
  2. Short Investigations – these involve prompts requiring interpretation, description, calculation, explanation or prediction, or different techniques for conceptualizing (e.g., concept maps).
  3. Open-Response Questions – stimulus and response.
  4. Portfolios – include journal entries, reflective writing, peer reviews, artwork and finished work.
  5. Self-Assessment – students evaluate their own work.

Online Assessment Resources” and “Quick Links to Rubrics” from Stout University have resources for designing, creating and scoring rubrics. Peruse the collection to find rubrics you can use for cooperative learning, PowerPoint presentations, podcasts, webpages, ePortfolios, mind maps, video or other multimedia, writing, games and simulations, research projects, oral presentations, math and science, social media and even a CyberFair rubric. There are also a Wiki rubric, a blog rubric, and Twitter rubric, as well as online discussion board, teamwork and collaboration rubrics.

Creating A Rubric for a Given Task,” from edWeb, illustrates how to compile your own rubrics by:

  1. Generating a number of potential dimensions to use.
  2. Selecting a reasonable number of the most important dimensions.
  3. Identifying benchmarks for each level of each dimension.

The “Portfolio Trouble-Shooter” from RMC Research Corporation lists potential problems with strategies for improvement.

Some examples are:

 Portfolio Troubleshooter

Stout provides suggestions using several online tools for creating your own authentic assessment instruments:

  • SurveyMonkey
  • ProfilerPro
  • Zoomerang
  • Questionmark
  • Quia!
  • Quizstar
  • Hot Potatoes

Project-Based Learning

Project Based Learning (PBL) goes hand in hand with authentic assessment. “Seven Essentials for Project-Based Learning” from Educational Leadership lists the components of a good project as:

  1. A need to know – by engaging student interest, for example, showing video of a local news event such as an unexpected tornado, can prompt students’ interest, shared experience and learning.
  2. Driving questions – student-created questions can help them focus on the problem at hand through the challenge of problem solving. Help students design questions that are open-ended and complex.
  3. Student voice and choice – allow learners to select design, create and present their own projects.
  4. 21st-century skills – using rubrics, students can examine their own team building and collaboration skills.
  5. Inquiry and innovation – new questions should arise from investigation and analysis throughout the PBL process.
  6. Feedback and revision – including self and peer review.
  7. Public presentation.

Create printable PBL checklists at 4teachers.org. Lists are customizable and sorted by grade level and available in English and Spanish. Topics include writing, science, oral presentation and multimedia.

Crafting Questions That Drive Projects” from learninginhand.org poses interesting ways to approach question design for PBL:

  • Solve a problem: real-word predicaments with multiple solutions.
  • Educational: the purpose is to teach others.
  • Broad theme: the project tackles big idea.
  • Opinion: students consider all sides of an issue to form opinions.
  • Divergent: students make predictions about alternative timelines and scenarios.
  • Scenario-based: students take on fictional roles with a mission.
  • Scaffolded around framing words: uses an unique tool called a Tubric. Tubric, a downloadable tool from bie.org, helps you frame initial words, person or entity, action or challenge and audience/purpose to create a driving question.

Learninginhand.org recommends these online tools for building students questioning skills:

  • Questions a Critical Thinker Asks (infographic)
  • 25 Critical Thinking Strategies For The Modern Learner (infographic)
  • Critical Thinking (Pinterest board)
  • Critical Thinking Skills (Pinterest board)
  • Critical Thinking (YouTube Playlist)

Teachthought.com designed a handy graphic that describes 23 iPad apps and their use in PBL. Start with an app named Mental for brainstorming activities, move on to “The Silent History” to practice narrative analysis, then archive your research via Pocket. The list includes ideas for using Google Earth, Instagram and Twitter and many other creative selections.

Formative Assessment

Tie everything together using formative assessment techniques. Unlike summative assessment, completed at the end of a time period or project, formative assessment is conducted throughout a lesson or unit.

Tools described in “Five Fantastic, Fast Formative Assessment Tools” from Edutopia provide some interesting alternatives for ongoing feedback and student assessment:

  • Socrative – visualize student understanding by creating quick real-time quizzes for tablets, laptops and smartphones; provides instant feedback and class and student level reports.
  • Kahoot – this game-based responsive system, also in real time, lets you ask thought provoking questions, quizzes, discussions and surveys that can be used on any device or platform.
  • Zaption – allows you to caption online videos for interactive learning. You can customize videos by adding images, tests and lessons, and then share the lessons via a simple link or on your blog or website. Zaption allows you to track responses and provides analytics.
  • QuickKey, ZipGrade and GradeCam are mobile phone test scanning apps. Each of these tools allows you to easily create quizzes, obtain instant results and run and export analyses and reports.

Patricia Bruder, president of Linchpin Solutions LLC, consults for the Educational Information and Resource Center (EIRC) located at the South Jersey Tech Park at Rowan University,Mullica