September 30, 2022

The pre-unit assessment is an important part of a comprehensive assessment. However, these activities often miss the opportunity to develop students’ critical thinking and collect data for future instruction. In situations where students lack the structure to complete a low-risk assessment, they can feel called out, which can leave them feeling defeated before the unit has even started. Because some students often use helping sources and search “do my biology homework”, they don’t have enough preparation. You can modify the tried-and-true pre-assessments to stimulate critical thinking and send positive messages to students.

KWL (a graph organizer that tracks students’ knowledge, wonders, and learning over time) can be a useful strategy to measure new learning and schema throughout a unit. A teacher might ask a student to fill out a graphic organizer containing background knowledge. This can prove difficult for someone who has never heard of quadrilaterals. It’s impossible to know what you don’t know. Instead, teachers can modify this process to make it work for their students as well.

OWL (Observe. Wonder. Learn) is an example of a small variation that encourages higher-order thinking. This can be done by sharing an observation and introducing a topic. The teacher could show a collage of rectangles or rhombuses or parallelograms to students and ask them to use their comparison skills and write down all the things they notice.

While there will be many different levels of schema regarding the topic, the main difference is that all students are participating in this type of activity. Everyone will have something they can say.

What could KWL mean?

* You should already be familiar with this topic.

* You must be already in the back to succeed in this unit.

What OWL says:

* You’re in an equitable position with all others.

* Each person has a different map for learning about this.


Pretests, in simple terms, collect the major takeaways of a unit and gauge students’ prior exposure and readiness for learning. The anticipation guide is a unique twist on pretests. It requires complex higher-order thinking skills, such as evaluation and synthesis, analysis judgment, justification, and justification. However, it can still be possible to extract student schema. They are quite popular in the English language, but not as much in other subjects. Teachers must determine whether students know the right answer.

You might be surprised at how little a change in language can lead to improved thinking. For example, rather than asking.

Instead of asking students which equation they think is wrong, encourage them to give mathematical examples that show their support. The best part is that students learn how to use evidence to support their beliefs.

What might pretests suggest?

* You should already be familiar with this topic.

* There is only one correct or incorrect answer.

What are anticipation guides?

* Your perspective is valued and will strengthen your learning.

* As long you can provide evidence and/or justify your answer, you won’t be wrong.


All teachers can use quick writing, regardless of subject or grade. Teachers are not only collecting data on learning but are also using brain-based strategies to improve student understanding and memory.

Although a quick writing task is fine on its own, teachers can enhance creativity and synthesis and honor differences in expressive skill by adding to it. Students don’t have to write about a specific topic. Instead, they can break down the allotted time into narrative writing and demonstration.

Students can write all they know, or do not know, about a topic on one side. Or find some sources and learn more information. The reverse side is where they display their knowledge in visual form. It could be students drawing clock faces, labeling parts of the digestive tract, or drawing World War II symbols. This works for all students. It also allows those with delays or language barriers to show off their knowledge, without obsessing over filling the page.

This is what quick writing might suggest:

* You should already be familiar with this topic.

* Quality is more important than quantity in response.

What narrative and demonstration suggest:

* It is possible to share or connect this information in a more effective way than words.

* It is important to have a deep response.

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