What does scrunched up formative assessment look like?

Attacking a question in this way makes the learning more active and enables children to view assessment as an exciting experience that can help them progress.

Thanks to John Dabell for the following article.

Have you ever tried scrunched up or crumpled assessment before?

This is a tried and tested strategy for self, peer and whole-class assessment and gives children the chance to make their ideas visible in an active and exciting context. It facilitates knowledge and understanding upgrades and helps the class to work as a team of learners.

Crumpled assessment is a very engaging way to get a snapshot of the ideas and explanations children hold and you can use the information to design and provide targeted learning opportunities for conceptual change.

What to do?

  • You write a question on the whiteboard.
  • Each child thinks about the question, commits a response and describes their thinking by writing it on a piece of A4 paper (or smaller) and then scrunch the paper into a ‘snowball’.
  • On your command, all children throw their scrunched up paper balls around the room until you say stop.
  • They then go and find a paper ball, open it up and read what is written.
  • Children then add further ideas or information to this response, re-scrunch and on your say so, throw them around the room.
  • Do this one more time so that children open up another paper ball and they make any further addition or changes before throwing one last time.
  • Children can open up a paper ball and share the responses given with a small group or the rest of the class. The papers they have in their hand is the one they talk about, not their own.
  • Hold a class discussion and talk about the responses given.

Thinking carefully about the content is important but this strategy works particularly well for any misconceptions that children may have. It is also effective for areas where children show partial or incomplete understanding.

Using the new edition Progress Tests from RS Assessment from Hodder Education gives you plenty of content with tests across Maths, Reading and GPS (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling).

Selecting questions from these tests is easy because the tests are able to flag-up areas of concern, weak spots and glaring gaps enabling us to focus on what matters, deal with confusions and reinforce long-term memory.

Regularly assessing pupil progress and detecting holes in children's learning is essential which is why the half-termly Progress Tests are so useful.  They can reveal what needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency and help children grow in confidence so they don’t get ‘stuck’ and lose heart.


How does scrunched up assessment work?

Scrunched up assessment works well across any tests – it’s a matter of looking at the questions that prove to be the most challenging or cause the most difficulty. For example, if your class haven’t answered a particular concept with any degree of confidence, focus on this as an area for development using the test question and/or similar examples. This could be anything from identifying subordinating conjunctions, knowing what a determiner is, explaining perimeter, telling the time or using evidence from a text to support a prediction. Basically, any areas with a high cognitive demand that haven’t been answered well are perfect for scrunched up activities.

Attacking a question in this way makes the learning more active and enables children to view assessment as an exciting and transformative experience that can help them progress. It allows children to process a question, decide on a response and then describe their thinking. When they read and hear other answers then they get the opportunity to refine their ideas, change them and build on their understanding further.

Another way of organising this activity is to combine it with North, East, South and West. Children are randomly assigned a compass point and when they pick up a scrunched up response they go to a different part of the classroom to discuss responses and share with others what someone else has written. Groups can then feedback to each other and co-create a ‘best’ response.  You can modify the process to meet your own classroom needs.


Why use it?

Scrunched up assessment is a high energy and low tech activity that:

  • provides a fun and engaging way for all children to get their ideas in the open
  • allows children to compare and contrast their own ideas with others' in the class
  • provides a safe and non-threatening opportunity to make everyone's ideas public.
  • is anonymous – children don't write their names on the paper (remind them to honour anonymity even if they recognise someone's handwriting)
  • provokes self-reflection and helps children justify their thinking

Crumpled assessment is novel, it's not for everyone but it is fun and allows you and every child to get into each other's thinking, check for understanding and make decisions about how to reshape a lesson or activity. It is a quick and easy activity and fits seamlessly into the teaching process.

Using the new edition Progress Tests as your content inspiration, scrunched up assessment reinforces writing, responding to text, critical thinking, justifying, problem-solving and collaboration. It provides an opportunity for 100% active engagement and it can work for sharing ideas and helping children modify their thinking.

Remember that using scrunched up assessment is just one of many ways of making learning active, and should be combined with other formative strategies so that it doesn’t lose its effectiveness.


english, formative assessment, key stage 1, key stage 2, maths

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