5 Fun Literacy Games That Double As Informal Assessments
Educators are always on the lookout for quick ways to check student comprehension. After all, no teacher wants to get to the end of a unit only to find out that students have been struggling all along. Periodic, low-stakes, informal assessments allow educators to see whether students need more review before moving on to the next lesson. For literacy educators, these informal assessments are especially important when teaching new vocabulary or assessing story comprehension.
Informal assessments may be rooted in necessity, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. Ultimately, anything that allows teachers to observe and evaluate student comprehension can be an informal assessment, and group activities and playful pretending are easy ways to have fun and check student understanding at the same time. Here are five literacy games that can double as informal assessments:
Charades is an activity that’s ready to shake off its dusty, Victorian-parlor-game status and take on new life in the classroom. For students who like to get up and move, acting can be the ideal way to demonstrate how well they understand the lesson. Ask student volunteers to act out a vocabulary word for the other students to guess. Both the acting and the answers will reveal how well students understand the vocabulary.
2. Line It Up
Retelling the sequence of events in a story is an essential way to measure story comprehension, and a little creativity can transform a boring recall activity into an interactive game. To play, write key scenes and plot points from the story onto note cards and tape a card onto each student’s back. Students will have to work together and ask each other questions to find out which scene is taped to their shirts. Once they’ve determined what point in the plot they represent, students can line themselves up in an order that represents the sequence of events in the story. If this sounds complicated, the game can be modified for all age groups and ability levels. Kindergartners can break into groups of three students to sequence the beginning, middle, and end of a story, while high-schoolers can get the whole class involved in ordering the numerous events of a Shakespearean play.
For students who are artistically inclined, drawing is a excellent way to demonstrate how well they understand a concept. Ask students to draw a picture that illustrates a concept from the lesson. Then, divide the students into small groups and ask them to take turns showing their pictures to each other. The other students in the group can guess what vocabulary word or scene from a story is represented in the drawing. Educators can quickly see how well students understood the lesson by walking around the classroom and listening to the groups' conversations.
4. Reverse Game Show
Here’s a fun way to reverse roles between educators and students. At the end of the lesson, ask students to write a game-show style question that can be answered only by a vocabulary word or concept learned in the day’s lesson. A quick look through the questions and answers will show how well the students are able to define the terms. Bonus round: In addition to reviewing the notecards for a quick informal assessment, educators can start off the next day’s lesson with a review-focused game show.
5. Missing Persons
This is another game that does double-time to assess story comprehension. After reading a story aloud, ask a student volunteer to leave the room and return impersonating one of the characters from the story. The rest of the class can guess which character the student is pretending to be. From the volunteer’s acting and the responses of the rest of the class, it will be easy to see how well the students grasped the actions and attributes of the story’s characters. What's more, future thespians will love being able to demonstrate their knowledge in an engaging, theatrical manner.
While informal assessments are an essential part of measuring student progress, there’s no need for educators to limit themselves to dry recall activities or comprehension questions. A little creativity can turn an informal assessment into a fun game for the whole class. The next time you need to do a quick comprehension check after a literacy lesson, keep these games in mind, or develop a few of your own.
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