Posted by: darcymullin | February 24, 2012

Authentic Assessment – Part 2

I started this post while I was working with a student at lunch.  I have spoken a bit about Jonah in another post, but he continue to amaze me and continually forces me to re-think my assessment practices.  

We have been working on a unit on Body Systems in class – you can check out some of our work on our class blog here.  Jonah chose to work alone on this project and then he missed a bunch of school due to a bad flu.  When he got back to school he was behind and to be frank, was not using his class time well.  In class I was pushing him a bit. 

I said, “Jonah, you are going to be presenting this material to the class tomorrow.  How do you think you are going to be ready?”

He looked up and quite honestly said, “I don’t know.  Can you help me?”

Well, how could I say no to that.  So Jonah and I agreed that we would meet

Jonah's Poster

at lunch until he was done.  This is where my real learning began.  I knew Jonah was artistic and creative and struggled with written output, so I asked him if he thought he could draw the connections I was looking for and then he could explain it.  He thought is was a great idea. 

As I worked with him and we talked about his work, I was dumfounded by the depth of his  understanding.  His grasp of the content far exceeded expectations. 

In isolation, his poster seems to lack detail and in many ways seems hastily done.  He would have had a hard time articulating his knowledge to the class in a presentation because he is shy.  Had I assessed him the same way I assessed the rest of the class, it would have been a huge disservice and grossly inaccurate.

Again, I must thank Jonah for emphasizing the importance of meeting learners where they are and assessing them through different lenses. 

Lesson learned (again), hopefully this time it sticks.



  1. Thanks for sharing. I think it is a great reminder of how amazing it can be to have students “unpack” their thinking to begin to see their level of understanding. However, it also shows the challenge of managing the time this can take in classrooms of various sizes.

    • Scott, thanks for the comment. No doubt, this type of assessment takes more time, but the payoff is huge. We often invest more time in our struggling learners, so I would argue this type of assement in many ways is more efficient (and accurate).

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