Are you looking for some ways to assess natural learners?
When most people hear the word assessment, they automatically think of testing. Whether that’s the standardized state testing or those lovely multiple choice tests that most of us who are products of the public school system so fondly remember.
But we don’t have to use a test to assess our natural learners…
In fact, the teacher in me HIGHLY recommends avoiding a multiple choice or any test of any kind to assess natural learners.
So what does the word assessment mean?
“Educational assessment, the process of documenting knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs” -Wikipedia
Testing is one of the ways to assess natural learners. It is a way of documenting your child’s knowledge.
However, there are far better ways to assess natural learners.
So what are the “Best Practice” assessment approaches?
*Best Practice is a term that is constantly used in the public education world. Googles definition says:
commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective
Yes, simple projects are a great way for children to show you what the know. Naturally, the children should be able to decide what kind of project to do and how they want to create it. This will take some openness or trust on your part as their parent.
Many teachers use projects in their classrooms, but MOST (notice I said most, not all teachers) tell the children what they must create and what topic they must create it on. They have rubrics designed to grade the project which tend to dictate how the project should be done in the eyes of the teacher. Occasionally, you will come across teachers who truly embrace differentiated instruction and will allow children to take total control of their project, but again the topic is usually dictated. Schools that really embrace individualized learning will encourage students to relate projects after researching topics of their own choice.
Here are some project ideas….
- Write songs
- Create a video
- Write a blog post/article
- Create a podcast on the subject
- Create a skit/play
-The list is truly endless when children use their passions and imaginations. This is just a few ideas to give children if they aren’t sure where to begin.
Basically anything your natural learner completes from an art piece to videos can be used as an assessment. Be sure to hang up examples of your children’s work in your learning environment.
Anecdotal notes are perfect for assessing your natural learners. Anecdotal notes are…
“Anecdotal notes are used to record specific observations of individual student behaviours, skills and attitudes as they relate to the outcomes in the program of studies. Such notes provide cumulative information on student learning and direction for further instruction.” – Learn Alberta
Anecdotal notes are simply notes you take about your natural learner. Things to include are things you noticed about their behaviors toward their chosen subject or exploration invitation*, their attitudes towards learning about the topic, or their skills they are learning or have mastered. These will help you track what to continue in their learning journey, what to stop learning about, and where they are with skill development. It’s also a great way to keep documentation of learning if you need it for homeschooling state requirements or for your own records.
Notes can simply be recorded into a journal if you prefer paper/pencil or you can use technology like tablets, laptops, or even your smart phone.
*Exploration Invitations are simply things I do to expose my children to new topics, play, or interests. For example, planning a trip to a new museum or setting up a play dough, paint, or life skill “center”. I dislike the word center because it reminds me of centers that I used in teaching which often were adult-led/worksheet centers. My explorations now are so much more child-led and designed to expose the kids to new possible interests. If it’s something they enjoy, we will do it again and if it’s not, we simple move on to the next thing.
Pictures are an amazing way to showcase and document their learning. I use this one a lot with my kids. Whenever we are doing something, I snap a picture or two. These can be put into a portfolio* or displayed around your learning environment. It’s an easy way to document the whole learning process of your child. Plus they usually love having their picture taken.
*Portfolios are simply a way to collect your pictures to document growth of skills and learning. They don’t have to be fancy unless you want them to be. A simple hanging folder system , binder or even a scrap book can work wonderfully. It’s all about what works best for you and your child.
Assessing your natural learner doesn’t have to be done by testing them. There are several other options that can give you even more knowledge of their skills and provide documentation.
What ways do you assess your natural learner?
I’m Melissa Dow, M.ED. I am a wife, mama of 2 and a bonus mama of 1. A former public school educator with 7 years of experience in both special education and general education who is on a new journey to help parents guide their children to uncover their true passions in order to find their life purpose. I love spending time out in nature whether hiking, running, camping, canoeing or just playing in our backyard (aka our outdoor classroom). I also enjoy reading, learning new things, organic gardening and creating our a simple life.