Everyone knows that it is important to do pre-assessments to see what your kiddos already know about a topic before you start teaching. I do a fair amount of pre-assessing, but I don’t always think that a big formal test pre-assessment is the best approach for every unit, and I get bored of the standard KWL chart.
For my astronomy unit I use a website called Wordle. This is a great (but sometimes glitchy) website. It creates word clouds. So at the beginning and end of my unit, I ask the kids to write on a piece of paper every word they can think of about astronomy and space. The result is a lot of individual papers that look like this:
Then I go through and either digitally or long hand make a tally chart of how many times a word is written, which ends up looking like this: pre-assessment in blue, post-assessment in purple:
Next, Wordle gives you a text box to write the words in. I type the word once and then copy and paste it as many times as I need. Here is where you should learn from my mistakes. Wordle needs the latest Java to run properly, so almost every time I use it I have to update my software. If I forget to update before I start typing, it erases everything I’ve typed! Super frustrating. So now I type it all in a word doc and copy and paste the whole thing into wordle. That way if it gets erased I don’t have to re-type everything. My word doc looks like this when I’m done.
Then you hit Go and it spits you our a word cloud. You can change the colors and the font and the formatting to be whatever you want. Here is my pre-assessment astronomy wordle:
And my post-assessment astronomy wordle:
After we have both created, the kids and I look at and analyze them. I ask them to make observations about the differences between the two. On this pair they noticed that there are a lot more words on the post wordle and there is a greater variety in sizeof the word. (The more times a word is typed, the more kids wrote down that word, the bigger the word is in the word cloud.) In our pre wordle the biggest word was Sun, and in our post the biggest word is star. There are also some really teeny tiny words on the post wordle because only one or two kids wrote those down, but they are still great vocab. (I was dupe excited that three kids put geocentric and heliocentric, which we learned in the first lesson I taught in the unit almost 3 months ago.)
So there you have it. A fun new way to do pre-assessments!
What non-traditional pre-assessments do you use in your classroom?