Five Quick Ways to Assess Student Understanding

In my journey to use the 30 minutes of allotted Physical Education time most efficiently, I have always tinkered with various ways to assess my students. Assessment is a vital part of Physical Education. As teachers we need to know where students are. Once we know student levels we can then create plans (lessons) to get them to where they need to be.

These five ways I use in order to save time but still gather the data I need for student growth.

1) Videotaping

This way is used mostly for skill assessments. I set my computer on the stage that is at the front my teaching space. When outside I bring a chair or box out. If you have a Mac, Quicktime has a recording feature using the laptop camera. PC users can also use Windows Movie Maker. While students are active, the camera is recording their actions. Therefore, if you would like to see which students are stepping with the opposite foot while overhand throwing, the camera provides that information. Later a teacher can review the tape and pinpoint which students need more instruction or individual work.

I have also used this method with the fourth & fifth graders when talking about space in an invasion game. I can see which students are not grasping the concept and create a plan to address it. I have even shared the video with the students so they can see their performance and corrections they may need.

2) Stations

Setting up stations, and then camping at a station with a checklist is also a quick way to assess a small group of students. At the conclusion of second grade gymnastics unit, I wanted a way to effectively assess students’ demonstration of the rolls learned during the unit. I set up four stations for each concept we learned during the unit.

Station 1: Balances

Station 2: Partner Balances

Station 3: Jumping Skills

Station 4: Rolls.

I set up at the station 4 with a checklist of elements students needed to show for all rolls. Once all students performed their rolls, I rotated stations. By the end of class I had a paper full of comments on the rolls students performed. I have also used my iPad to take notes. If your class doesn’t allow you to just be at one station, consider using videotaping to gather data on the kids at a station.

3) Journals

Requiring students to have journals in physical education is a great way to assess students quick. Teachers can either begin class with asking students to write down what they know about a particular concept, or end class with specific questions about the content of class. I then usually have students leave their journals with me or tear the page out so I can learn more about what my students know. I can also write feedback specific to the student and quickly return it to them.

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4) Sidewalk Chalk

This method is the younger students’ version of journals. I require my 8-11 year olds to have journals in physical education. For students 5-7, I frequently use sidewalk chalk if we are outside. The other day, my second graders (7 year olds) were learning about active and resting heart rate. I gave each pair a piece of chalk and asked them to draw situations where they would take their active and resting heart rate. I then went around with my iPad to make a note of who showed understanding. I have also done this with my kindergarteners (5 year olds) when teaching about boundaries and self-space as shown below.


5) Mini Student Meetings

Last week, I gave the first graders a list of tasks to complete during class as a part of our pulse lesson. While the class completed the list, I called students up to me at the front of the class where I stood with my computer. We then had a mini conference. By mini I mean no more than one minute. The purpose was to check for understanding of pulse and its location. I met with 29 students in twenty minutes. In that twenty minutes I had concrete knowledge of who did not understand pulse and was able to clear up misconceptions. At the same time my students reinforced their knowledge of pulse independently from me with the list of tasks they completed.

These can be used as formative or summative assessments. If I am using Mini Student Meetings, I can have my laptop with me as I am meeting with the students. I can add grades to our district grading program and comments to justify the grades. For my videotaping, I use Joey Feith’s “Numbers” app method of grading. In subsequent classes, I may use our warm-up time to work one on when with the students who were deficient in the assessment.

If you would like me to go into further detail about any of the assessments methods I use, shoot me a message on here or twitter and I would love to talk about it.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these or any other quick assessments you may have. Always looking for more!

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