2017-2018 Lanier High Assessment Literacy Learning Reading Instruction and Workshop Teaching and Learning

Creative Formative Assessments of Independent/Choice Reading

As we were winding down our final week before spring break last week, I wanted to give my juniors a way to compose a creative product as a formative assessment of their independent/choice reading.  Students could create the product over:

  • A book they recently finished
  • A current read of an entire book (great for students nearly finished with a book)
  • A chapter or set of chapters of a current read (especially great for students who had just started a new book or were not terribly far into a book)

For my 3B Honors and 4B CP classes, students got to choose from one of the following options below:

  1.  Think in Threes Graphic Organizer
  2.  Found Poetry
  3.  Blackout Poetry
  4. Mari Andrew Art and Writing Playlists
  5. Two Voice Poems
  6. Sketchnote
  7. One Pager (free form or guided with a template and instructions)

As you can see from the photos below, I created “stations” for students to explore the form and finished examples.  In addition, I created instructions with at least one example for every product and placed those in my hanging files (see last two photos) so that students would have plenty of support, especially since most of the products (with the exception of sketchnoting) were new.


For my other three sections of 11th ELA, they all  were assigned the guided one-pager.  This assignment is essentially like a guided sketchnote and is great for students who may need a little more structure for completing a high quality sketchnote.  Many thanks to Betsy at Spark Creativity for offering her take on one-pagers and the resources she provides at no charge!

Though I usually offer choice to every section, this instructional decision was based on the needs of those learners as well as the reality that two of those classes needed extra class/computer lab time to finish an author research assignment we were working on (blog post on that learning activity soon); as a result, we didn’t have as much class time left to complete our creative products as the other sections did.   However, for these classes, offering only one option worked great for these students as they sometimes are overwhelmed by choice and because of our time frame/schedule.  For these classes, examples were provided in my neon pouches that they could take to their work space; they were also posted online in our online learning management system.

As always, I provided students colored pencils, markers, sharpies, and other supplies for their creative work.

While I have a few students who will finish the Monday we return from spring break, many students finished at the end of the week.  The thinking I heard happening out loud and the dialog between students about decisions they were making about their work were rich and reflected a depth of thinking that other kinds of assessments might not capture.   For example, one of my juniors has blown me away with his two voice poem based on Yeonmi Park’s In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom.  For his two voice poem, he decided to focus on the inner conflict Park felt—one voice is the part of her that wants to defect; the other is the side of her that fears defecting and the unknown.

I was quite impressed with the effort and detail of thought many students were demonstrating in their process and design as well as their finished products.  In addition, my heart overflowed with joy observing many students helping their peers and collaborating when someone was struggling with their product.

Below is a gallery of scenes from our work and the first wave of completed products I received.



I will definitely use this type of assessment with students in the future as we continue our independent/choice reading, especially since their in-class formative assessments/reflections are usually written.   I think there is value in both kinds of formative assessments.  However, as you can see from this gallery of products, these creative options give students an alternative way to show their understandings, insights, and engagement with the book they have selected and gives them different options for showing their thinking.

I continue to be thrilled by the response to our independent/choice reading that has been a major part of our classroom lie this semester.  I hope to finally get a post completed to update you on what that has looked like in terms of structure and time as well as insights from students with their reading goals and self-assessment as well as our weekly formative assessments.


  1. I love the idea of using stations to introduce the students to the different choices they have for their product. I love the choices you gave them, very creative! Thank you for sharing.


    1. Thank you so very much for those kind words! They enjoyed exploring the stations—having the concrete examples and support materials really helped. I think I spent an entire Sunday organizing and pulling everything together, but it was totally worth it!


      1. That’s what true educators do. I taught for 15 years before I moved to curriculum and pd. The time spent after hours is what truly paid off during class time. Be well and keep sharing the joy of learning!


  2. I LOVE these options for independent reading assessment. Is there somewhere you have the option handouts posted? I would love a copy of them!


    1. Hi! I have not posted them, but let me clean up the Google Drive folder with everything, and I will be glad to share it with you. It might be this weekend before I can tidy up the folder, but I will get you a copy! Thank you so much!


      1. I would love a copy of these if you have them handy! My students are finishing independent books and would LOVE this, I think!


  3. I love the options that you gave your students. I would also be VERY interested in having a copy of the options handouts. At the end of the year, we have a “book showcase” where I could see some of these being a fantastic option!


  4. Starting a job in high school for the first time next year and I love the creativity here and the multiple modalities. I want to use these! Thanks so much. Would love you to share the drive with me too, please.


  5. Hi Buffy!

    I really love the idea of these choices for student novel projects. You post so many wonderful resources and ideas! Do you have a TeachersPayTeachers page, or something of the sort, where you are comfortable sharing some of the documents that you create?

    Thank you for your inspiration!


  6. I keep coming back to this post and want to try something similar with an colleague’s class. Would you be willing to share with me as well? Thank you for trying out such great ideas and sharing the journey with us.


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