3 Creative Ways to Assess Students in PE

When was the last time you felt motivated while assessing students? Better question, when was the last time your students felt engaged when being assessed?

Assessing students is a common practice in Physical Education. Yet, we often limit ourselves in the ways we have our students demonstrate their learning. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can add more variety to the ways we assess our students. We just have to be creative.

Here’s some simple logic… if a person’s task is not engaging, that person not likely to be motivated to perform their best during the given task. Thus it’s important we remind ourselves to measure that “engagement factor” with students during assessments.

Here’s a reflective task I need you to do. Take a moment and examine all the different ways you assess students. Don’t leave anything out. Each assessment method you list equals a colored crayon. After finishing this reflection, count how many crayons you have. Can they fit in the classic 8-count box? 24-count box? Or do you need the giant 64-count big box.

Yes, this exercise seems silly, but think about this, ”If you ask your students to color a picture of their learning experience in your classroom, which sized box of crayons are they going to reach for?”

Giving students a variety of assessments in the classroom naturally gives them the ability to create a colorful and vibrant learning experience.

Assessing students is a necessary practice in Physical Education, but it doesn’t have to be so cut-and-dried.

Here are 3 easy assessment strategies for the Physical Education classroom.

Create-A-Game

This can be done individually or in small groups, and at any grade level. Assign students random Physical Education equipment and have them create the game of their choice. Keyword = RANDOM. When I do this in the classroom, I scatter equipment across the gymnasium and have students select X number of items before I give them any directions of what they will need to do with it. Students name their game, create the rules, and eventually teach what they’ve created to their peers.

What I love about this assessment method?

This is a way for students to express their creativity and interests in the classroom. Letting one’s imagination flourish in the classroom is an easy way to increase that “engagement factor” with your assessments. An activity like Create-A-Game allows the instructor to easily assess National Standard 5 (recognizing the value of physical activity for health enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and social interaction), often the most difficult standard (based on teacher feedback) to assess.

Learning Contracts

Give students options at the end of a unit of how they will demonstrate their knowledge with a learning contract. Instead of one assessment method, a learning contract allows the student to choose multiple ways to demonstrate their learning. Students can choose to write a report, make a movie, or put on a demonstration. Options within a learning contract are only as limited as the creativity of the teacher.

Prior to this assessment, students complete an application for their learning contract that includes 1) creating an action plan for how they plan to demonstrate their knowledge, 2) choosing criteria that will be used to assess their final product, and 3) indicating a deadline date when their project will be complete.

What I love about this assessment method?

This is a great summative assessment to give students at the end of a unit. Student engagement will hit new peaks in your classroom when you empower your class to create their own learning contract.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Put students behind a camera and let them film their performance, a game description, or procedures for the classroom. Students love seeing themselves on film. When they have the ability to see their performance on film, they’re more like to be receptive to the feedback you give and in-turn be more engaged in the learning process.

If you’re limited on technology in your classroom, talk to teachers in your building and share this idea with your administrator. Many school districts have a focus on tech literacy. Sharing this assessment with colleagues in your building may not only get you a little recognition, it just may get you a little more tech funding for future projects with your students.

What I love about this assessment method?

Incorporating cameras in the class allows students to archive their learning. This proves to be valuable when building student portfolios for families and staff at the end of the school year. That’s powerful!

My Challenge for You

Students are willing to take control of their learning. So, give them the opportunity through some easy assessment strategies. I encourage you to test out any of these assessments in your classroom.

I am always looking for ways I can add variety to assessments in the classroom. If you have a unique assessment you feel would benefit other educators, share that knowledge with your colleagues in our Physical Education community.

Derek is a Washington State-based NBCT Physical Educator looking to leave a lasting impression in the Physical Education community through meaningful collaboration, advocacy, and teamwork. He taught elementary PE for more than a decade and now currently serves all 32 schools in the Highline School District as the PreK-12 Health and Physical Education Coordinator. A Seattle native, Derek’s credentials include a bachelors and masters in Physical Education from Western Washington University and Central Washington University, respectively. He serves alongside other physical educators on his state’s Health and PE cadre. Derek shows his growing passion for teaching leadership and advocacy in Physical Education as a workshop presenter for SHAPE Washington and SHAPE America. He also shares his PE philosophy with educators across the globe as a monthly blogger through the Puget Sound Educational Service District and Ready Washington. Outside of PE, Derek enjoys spending time with his family of 3, running outdoors, and swinging the golf clubs searching for that illusive hole-in-one. See what Derek is doing on Twitter: @PhysEdDerek

Derek is a Washington State-based NBCT Physical Educator looking to leave a lasting impression in the Physical Education community through meaningful collaboration, advocacy, and teamwork. He taught elementary PE for more than a decade and now currently serves all 32 schools in the Highline School District as the PreK-12 Health and Physical Education Coordinator. A Seattle native, Derek’s credentials include a bachelors and masters in Physical Education from Western Washington University and Central Washington University, respectively. He serves alongside other physical educators on his state’s Health and PE cadre. Derek shows his growing passion for teaching leadership and advocacy in Physical Education as a workshop presenter for SHAPE Washington and SHAPE America. He also shares his PE philosophy with educators across the globe as a monthly blogger through the Puget Sound Educational Service District and Ready Washington. Outside of PE, Derek enjoys spending time with his family of 3, running outdoors, and swinging the golf clubs searching for that illusive hole-in-one. See what Derek is doing on Twitter: @PhysEdDerek

1 COMMENT

  1. Do you have a form or handout with directions or criteria you use for the create a game or the others?
    I would love to see some if you have them

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