5 Outside of the Box Assessment Ideas

As another school year comes to a close, many of us are designing our end of the year assessments or knee deep grading them. For those still in the planning stages of their end of the year assessments, I want to encourage you to think outside of the box. The final assessment does not have to be a pen and paper or scantron exam. We have one last opportunity to engage students and ask them to demonstrate higher-order thinking and creativity in their final assessment. However, this requires that we demonstrate the same level of creativity in the design of that assessment.

Not all students do their best work with a pen and paper (or a pencil and scantron), so it’s unfortunate that those are the primary modes of assessing what students know. Each time I’ve assigned an alternative form of assessment, like the ones below, I’ve been absolutely floored by what my students create. There are always a collection of students who don’t do well on traditional exams and writing assignments who shine when asked to think outside the box and create!

Here are 5 of my favorite “outside the box” assessments! Just click the title to read more about each!

1. Digital Portfolios

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 12.38.33 PM

2. Infographics


3. Digital Stories and Movies

Note: When having students share their work online, it’s important to teach them how to manage their YouTube comments. Click here to read a blog on that!

4. TED-style Talk

5. Make Stuff 

Anna Makerspace



Do you have alternative assessment ideas that have worked for you? If so, please post a comment and share your “outside of the box” assessment ideas! I’m always looking for additional ideas.

Creatively Teach the Common Core Literacy Standards with Technology  Available NOW! Just in time for summer reading!

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16 Responses to 5 Outside of the Box Assessment Ideas

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  7. Jon Tulloch says:

    I have had fun with using online comics, using them particularly for context-driven assignments like this example for linguistic pragmatics: http://www.joomag.com/magazine/module-guides-enc1502-the-study-of-language/0889482001423137341/p36?short#.VXG3lxF8ArQ.mailto

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  13. Charlotte Schilten says:

    I love suggesting Google sites and Site Maestro for an alternative assessment. Site Maestro addon allows a teacher to have admin rights to all sites of students and populates then all nicely in one spreadsheet.

  14. Herb Coleman says:

    I guess my number one question is what are you assessing? While I’m all for alternative representation of of data and information, I want to be clear that the “assessment” is truly assessing the identified learning outcomes. It seems sometimes that we’re often in these cases assessing creativity or expression rather than analysis or application of concepts.
    That could just be my own assessment.

    • Great question, Herb.

      I identify three standards/skills to assess for a project like this. Two of the standards are typically the same regardless of the project they select (if they get to choose their project) and the third may vary if the project the student selects has a heavy technical skill involved or a speaking and listening skill if there is an oral component to the project. Students receive a rubric with the three skills identified and broken down at the start of the project, so they know how they will be assessed and complete work with an eye on those particular skills. The rubrics are on a 1-4 scale and describe what each skill looks like 1-beginning, 2-developing, 3-proficient, and 4-mastery. The skills come straight from the CA CCSS so they are grounded in our grade-level content standards. After I assess those individual skills, I enter them separately into the gradebook.


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