Great Performances: Creating Classroom-Based Assessment Tasks

Great Performances: Creating Classroom-Based Assessment Tasks

Great Performances: Creating Classroom-Based Assessment Tasks

Great Performances: Creating Classroom-Based Assessment Tasks


"What grade did you give me?" students often ask teachers, as if teachers randomly assign grades. Too many students do not understand how their academic performance in the classroom corresponds with various grades. Improving students' understanding of what their teachers expect them to do, how well they should be able to do it, and how they should go about accomplishing it is what this book is all about. Lewin and Shoemaker show you how to teach rich, integrated, thematic units of instruction where students grapple with meaty conceptual ideas and use the processes of reading, writing, problem solving, and investigation.

The authors share what they've learned about developing and assessing powerful performance tasks--ranging from short and specific to lengthy and substantive. Their focus is on the practical, the doable. You can learn from their successes as well as their mistakes.

The authors discuss a four-step approach for teaching students how to acquire content knowledge--labeled "Info In"--and examine four "Info Out" modes through which students can make their content understanding explicit for evaluation purposes. Great Performances is filled with highly motivating examples of student projects as well as effective assessment tools that teachers can adapt for their own classrooms.

In this new edition, you will find:

• updated examples and scoring mechanisms throughout the chapters;

• expanded options for converting performance task scores into required letter grades for reporting to parents; and

• a new chapter on reading assessment to help teachers navigate their way through Response to Intervention. This chapter also provides as a helpful review of popular commercially published in-class reading assessments.

Teaching to and assessing with performance tasks result in true understanding--the type of understanding students will need in the world, where they will be expected to produce "Great Performances."


Betty’s Story

When I was in the 3rd grade, my aunt and uncle sent me several packets of flower seeds. I was thrilled about the potential of creating something that could be both beautiful and utilitarian. I don’t remember how I came up with the idea of creating a flower bed in front of my school. I immediately set to work on putting my plan in place. I would revitalize the front of my drab, red brick elementary school with rows of black-eyed Susans, red poppies, Shasta Daisies, and zinnia Lilliputs.

First, I asked my teacher, Mrs. Hedberg, what she thought of the idea. She loved it and paved the way for me to get started on the project during recess soon after the spring thaw. I rounded up a few of my friends to help me, and we began to prepare the ground for planting. Throughout the process, Mrs. H. kept providing us with reading material about planting and maintaining flower gardens and about the types of gardens that attract birds to one’s neighborhood.

About six weeks into the work, when the seeds had sprouted and we began to see the fruit of our labors, we arrived at school one day to see the local florist bringing in planter boxes to place in front of the school. My feelings were surprise, concern, and then shock! What was going on?

I rushed into my classroom. Mrs. Hedberg explained to me that the Parent Teacher Association had noticed my small plot and decided that it was time for them to start a “beautification initiative” for the entire school as a result of my efforts. When recess came, my crew and I headed out to see the new “stuff.” To our horror, a couple of the 6th grade girls (one whose mother was the president of the PTA) were actively pulling out our tender starts. They laughed at us and stated that our “puny” plants would not amount to much and that they were charged by the PTA to remove them in order to prepare for the much nicer boxes loaded with hardy nursery plants. I was enraged—livid! I don’t remember deciding to hit her, but I swung my fist around . . .

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