Now that we've all gotten through the crazy back-to-school season and have established our classroom routines, I thought I'd take the opportunity to discuss differentiated vocabulary assessment.
Easy Grading Can Mean Inaccurate Results
As easy as it is to grade a multiple choice vocabulary quiz, I find that I don’t know if students truly know the words or if they looked on someone else’s paper or took wild guesses. My alternative is to create a differentiated weekly vocabulary assessment that allows me to see the depth of each student’s vocabulary knowledge.
Differentiated Vocabulary Assessment with Sentence Writing
Of the ten vocabulary words we learn each week, I select five of the vocabulary words at random (I vary the words from class to class) and write them on the board. I then select (again, at random and it varies from class to class), a “blast from the past” word from a previous unit, so that students are always studying the previous unit’s vocabulary words. Students copy the words from the board onto their vocabulary assessment handout and follow the instructions to complete the quiz.
Thoughtful Assessment Leads to Accurate Results
While this alternative vocabulary assessment is harder to grade, it still can be pretty easy at a glance to see which students understand which words and remediate from there. I also like to have students give me a little insight into their lives and their struggles, so the end question is for me; I find the better relationships I have with students, the more willing they are to learn in my class.
Differentiation Easier with Alternative Assessment
This assessment also makes it easy to differentiate for learners who struggle. With my struggling students, I discuss five words out of the ten-word list that they want to focus on and that are most relevant to their reading and writing. Then, on assessment day, those students can write down the five words they studied and create sentences incorporating each word. I select the “blast from the past’ word, making sure it is one that they have already learned in a previous unit.
Let me know how this differentiated vocabulary assessment handout works out for you, and any other alternative vocabulary assessments that you use with your students.