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Top Ten Tips for Assessing Project -Based Learning, Edutopia

Top Ten Tips for Assessing Project -Based Learning, Edutopia

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Published by Thomas Grant
"Recently, I watched a team of ninth graders present their vision for a city of the future. They had clearly done their research, investigating everything from the politics of ancient Athens to the principles of sustainable design in the 21st century. Then they applied what they learned to design a 3-D model of their ideal city. As their classmates and teachers gathered around the scale model, the young urban designers pointed out the innovative features of their metropolis. I couldn’t help but notice their passion, eloquence, and creativity—none of which would have been adequately assessed by a multiple-choice test."
"Recently, I watched a team of ninth graders present their vision for a city of the future. They had clearly done their research, investigating everything from the politics of ancient Athens to the principles of sustainable design in the 21st century. Then they applied what they learned to design a 3-D model of their ideal city. As their classmates and teachers gathered around the scale model, the young urban designers pointed out the innovative features of their metropolis. I couldn’t help but notice their passion, eloquence, and creativity—none of which would have been adequately assessed by a multiple-choice test."

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Published by: Thomas Grant on May 31, 2011
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05/31/2011

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1
 
 
 presents
TEN TIPS
+++++
PLUS, A BONUS TIP
 
on
HOW TO ASSEMBLE A PBL TOOL KIT
FOR ASSESSING
PROJECT-BASED LEARNING
 
 T O P
 
RECENTLY, I WATCHED A TEAM OF NINTH GRADERS
present their vision or acity o the uture. They had clearly done their research, investigating everything romthe politics o ancient Athens to the principles o sustainable design in the 21st century.Then they applied what they learned to design a 3-D model o their ideal city. As theirclassmates and teachers gathered around the scale model, the young urban designerspointed out the innovative eatures o their metropolis. I couldn’t help but notice theirpassion, eloquence, and creativity—none o which would have been adequately assessed by a multiple-choice test.I we hope to oer students real-world learning experiences like this one, we need to be ready with a tool kit o authentic assessment strategies to guide the teaching andlearning process. This classroom guide is intended to inspire and expand your thinkingabout eective assessment in project-based learning.The tips listed below are organized to ollow the arc o a project. First comes planning,then the launch into active learning, and then a culminating presentation. Reectionis the fnal stage, and it’s equally important or students and teachers. At each stage,paying attention to assessment will pay dividends. We start with
These suggestions help you imagine inal products that will oer students better ways to demonstrate whatthey have learned. Follow the links to videos, online discussions, digital tools, and otherresources rom educators who have wisdom to share. Assessment doesn’t just happen at the end o a project, o course. That’s why we oertips, tools, and strategies to help with ormative assessment. For example,
oers ideas or quick check-ins at the start and end o the day to helpkeep learning on track during an extended project. At the national level, conversations about school reorm are increasingly ocused onassessment. Secretary o Education Arne Duncan has called or educators to rethinkstandardized assessment so that it goes beyond narrowly ocused bubble tests, and new projects are in the pipeline to build a better system or gauging what students know andcan do.
oers insights rom education experts to help you stay up-to-date about the latest thinking on school reorm.Many suggestions in this guide come rom creative educators in the Edutopia community  who are devising their own good strategies or comprehensive assessment. We invite you to join the conversation by taking part in online discussions. (Get started at
http://www.edutopia.org/groups.)
What are your avorite tools and strategies or eectiveassessment? What do you do to help students keep projects on track so that they can takelearning to new heights? Please share your ideas so we can continue learning together.
Suzie Boss
Edutopiablogger and coauthor o 
 Reinventing Project-Based Learning 
Top Ten Tips
 
 for Assessing Project-Based Learning 
TIP LIST
PLAN AHEAD
1.
 Keep It Real with Authentic Products 
2.
 Don
t OverlookSot Skills
3.
 Learn romBig Thinkers
LAUNCH INTO LEARNING
4.
 Use FormativeStrategies to KeepProjects on Track
5. 
Gather Feedback—Fast
6. 
Focus on Teamwork
7. 
Track Progress with Digital Tools
SHARE WHAT STUDENTS KNOW
8. 
Grow Your Audience
REFLECT, REVISE, REVISIT
9. 
Do-It-Yoursel ProessionalDevelopment Assess BetterTogether
+
 
BONUS TIP:
How to Assemble Your PBL Tool Kit
10. 
 
TOP TEN TIPS FOR ASSESSING PROJECT-BASED LEARNING
3
Related Resources:
Get practical ideas rom School o the Future in “Ten Takeaway Tipsor Using Authentic Assessmentin Your School”:
http://www.edutopia.org/10-assessment-tips-or-class.
Join Edutopia’s Assessment groupand share ideas with colleaguesacross the country—and beyond:
http://www.edutopia.org/groups/ assessment.
Review an overview o assessmentrom NYLearns.org:
http://www.nylearns.org/module/ mvc/Assessment/Basics.
Learn NC, a program o the Universityo North Carolina at Chapel Hill,oers online resources to inormassessment practices:
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/645.
PLAN AHEAD
Keep It Real with AuthenticProducts
IN PROJECT-BASED LEARNING,
students don’t justmemorize acts and recall inormation; they learn moredeeply by doing—or that’s the goal at least. To set the stage orsuccess, invest in planning beore you bring students into theproject. The planning stage is when you establish learninggoals about the content and skills you want students tomaster. It’s also the time to ocus on assessment strategiesthat will guide teaching and learning throughout the project.I you’ve relied on traditional tests or assessment in the past,now’s your chance to think outside the (check) box to indmore-authentic ways or students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do.Over the course o a project, students might take on the roleso scientists, historians, screenwriters, or experts rom otherdisciplines. Look to these disciplines or appropriate end-o-project assessment ideas. What sorts o products would youexpect rom a biologist, poet, or social scientist? What doproessionals rom these felds make, do, or perorm? Expectsimilar products or perormances rom your students at the culmination o a project toshow what they have learned. Authentic products naturally reect the learning goalsand content standards you have identiied during project planning. They don’t eelake or orced. The Coalition o Essential Schools, a proponent o perormance-basedassessment, suggests a wide range o inal products to jump-start your thinking:
 http://www.essentialschools.org/resources/115.
In his article “The Power o Audience,” Steven Levy describes the genuine productscreated by Expeditionary Learning students in schools across the country. For example,students in Maine created an activity book about oceans to interest and entertain youngdiners at a waterront restaurant. Compelling research presentations by students inRochester, New York, convinced the city council to invest in a easibility study aboutrestoring a historic waterway. Download the article, originally published in
EducationalLeadership
:
http://elschools.org/best-practices/power-audience-steven-levy.
 Sharing their fnal products with an audience brings students valuable eedback and anopportunity to reect on what they have learned. Watch the video
 Anatomy of a Project:Kinetic Conundrum
rom Edutopia’s Schools That Work series to see a culminating eventor an engaging interdisciplinary project:
http://www.edutopia.org/project-learning-kinetic-art.
(You can fnd more suggestions to attract audiences or your culminatingevents in
Learn how authentic assessment improves results and keeps students engaged at New  York City’s School o the Future, which we profled in Edutopia’s Schools That Workseries:
http://www.edutopia.org/stw-assessment.
 
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