Just like a chef tastes the soup to adjust the seasonings, teachers can make use of quick, regular formative assessments to inform their teaching. Are you presenting material in a way students understand? Or do you need to try a new approach? Do some students need extra support? Understanding your students’ learning enables you to teach effectively and ensures each of your students succeeds. Get the feedback you need without breaking your stride with these fourth grade assessment ideas. Teaching remote? Don’t worry, we’ve got ideas for remote learning assessments too!
Gauge student learning while also giving your fourth graders a chance to move around.
1. Number Line Lineup
When covering topics like mixed fractions and rounding, asking students to position themselves along a jumbo number line is an engaging way to gauge students’ level of understanding. In the classroom, use masking tape to create a line across the floor. Add appropriate markings and labels to suit the concept being assessed. Invite students to help you create the number line as a way to further reinforce concepts. Outside, create a number line using chalk on a sidewalk or playground surface for an even bigger number line! Next, create a set of number cards on index cards or a set of equation cards for students to solve first before locating their answer on the line. After students have had the chance to examine their card, call “One, two, three, line up!” At this point, students find their spot on the line and display their number cards.
Let’s be honest, some of the best formative assessments are games your students don’t even realize are quizzes! To play Splat, create a game board with two identical sides. The game board could include vocabulary words, math facts, historical dates, science terms, or any “answers” related to topics the class is studying. Next, divide the class into two teams and give each team a flyswatter. The first two players from each team stand a few feet from their side of the game board. The teacher reads out a question, and the first student to swat the correct answer earns a point for their team. Different students face off in the next round and the game continues until all students have had a turn and/or all questions have been asked. What other favorite morning meeting games can you transform into assessments your students love?
Gestures or visuals allow you to get a quick read on student understanding. They make the perfect fourth grade assessment strategies for your toolbox.
3. Illustrated Ideas
Inviting students to illustrate a concept makes it easy to do a quick visual check for understanding. As an added bonus, many students increase their understanding of a concept as they work through the stages from initial outline to a detailed finished illustration. This assessment can become a game of Quick Draw by using a timer to limit the amount of time students have to sketch out an idea. For example, students could illustrate a historical event after listening to a passage describing it, or draw out the stages in the life cycle of a frog, or represent a fraction as a shaded part of a whole.
4. Strive for Five
Share with students that learning is a process and as a community of learners, the class will work together to make sure everyone boosts their understanding from a zero (closed fist) to a five (open hand). At the beginning of a lesson, during a lesson, and at the end of a lesson, ask students to show their level of understanding with their fingers. Creating an anchor chart like the one below can help students remember the meaning of each number. Based on student responses, adapt your lesson plan or group students together to provide additional support. Invite “level 5” students to help students at other levels. Celebrate student growth as students move from a zero to a five!
- 0 (closed fist) – I don’t understand at all.
- 1 – I need help.
- 2 – I need more examples and practice.
- 3 – I understand pretty well.
- 4 – I mostly understand.
- 5 (open hand) – I completely understand.
These assessment ideas make use of written/drawn responses, making them perfect for quiet times in the classroom.
5. Three, Two , One
At the end of a lesson, ask students to pull out a sheet of paper and write:
- 3 things they learned
- 2 things they found interesting
- 1 question they still have
6. Always, Sometimes, Never
Asking students to classify a statement can reveal a lot about their understanding of a topic while also getting them to think deeply! Post a statement (or multiple statements on different sections of the board or stations in the classroom). For math, this could be a statement such as “multiplication makes numbers bigger.” For ELA, this could be a statement such as “Topic sentences are the first sentence in a paragraph.” Next, give students different colored sticky notes to representing the words “always,” “sometimes,” and “never.” Some teachers use red notes for “never,” yellow notes for “sometimes,” and green notes for “always.” Have students place the sticky note they believe is true for each statement and then write out the reasons for their choice in their journal or on a sheet of paper.
Channel your students’ love of talking with these oral assessment ideas.
7. Turn and Talk
Simple, but effective. Sharing in front of the entire class can be a daunting task for many students, but talking with a friend during a “Turn and Talk” will give you the chance to hear from even the shiest students. Divide students into pairs. Display several comprehension questions and ask students to take turns asking and listening. Challenge students to ask follow up questions to better understand their partner’s thinking. An anchor chart of discussion question stems can be helpful to support effective conversations.
8. Math Talks
Invite your fourth graders to share their mathematical thinking with a partner as they explain their solution to a math problem. Posting an anchor chart of math talk starter questions like the one below will help your students have effective conversations. Listen in on individual pairs or ask pairs to share their thoughts with the class.
Fourth Grade Assessment Ideas for Online Learning
Take advantage of these simple video call assessment ideas and helpful online tools to gauge student learning while teaching remotely.
9. Color Cards
A simple deck of colored cards is an assessment tool you’ll come back to again and again throughout the year. Students can use sheets of colored paper or use markers to color sheets of plain paper. A basic deck could include white, black, and red sheets, or students could create a rainbow deck of all seven colors. Have students keep their deck handy for quick check-in questions. For example, students can hold up a certain color to show their answer to a multiple choice question, or they can use certain colors to indicate how well they understand a topic, or as a signal for help from a teacher.
10. Something From My House
Online learning can mean a lot of screen time, so mix things up while also challenging your students to make connections and explain their thinking. For math, students can grab a cereal box and use the numbers from the nutrition facts panel in a math problem or use UPC numbers as a prompt for demonstrating their understanding of rounding. For ELA, ask students to find an item they think a given character in the class read-aloud would like/need/want and then explain their thinking. Alternatively, have students find an object to creatively complete a simile, or that relates to vocabulary the class is studying.
11. Text Me
When students summarize a concept, they have to capture the essential elements of what they’ve learned. This can reveal a lot about what they’ve absorbed and understood. Ask students to imagine they’re texting a classmate who couldn’t make it to class today. How would they describe what was covered in class? What important details should the classmate know about the topic? Have students send you their text messages through the class’ online learning platform. Decide ahead of time whether you will allow slang and emojis as part of the message.
12. Boom Cards
Online task cards that grade themselves! An abundance of Boom Card decks are available online or teachers can create their own.
For even more great resources for teaching fourth grade online, check out: Your Guide to Teaching Fourth Grade Online and Tips and Tools for Making Online Assessments Work.
What are your favorite fourth grade assessment ideas? Please share in the comments or on our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE!