Unpacking the Embedded Assessment

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SWBAT: preview what skills and understandings will be expected of them for their Summative Assessment.

Big Idea

I always show my students where they are going! Unpacking our Embedded Assessments gives them personalized goals for their learning.

Guiding Question

5 minutes

The Guiding Question is actually a modified prompt for my students' Embedded Assessment. The reason I'm giving them the prompt on the same day as we begin thinking about the assessment is because I want it fresh in their minds as we look at the process, and anticipate an end product.

Because their Guiding Question should only take about 5 minutes to write, I understand that this "draft" is just a basic skeleton of what the final product will be, but it's good that their minds are thinking along the line of incident+change=personal narrative.

Mini Lesson

15 minutes

For the Mini Lesson, I demonstrate how to "unpack" an assessment. Though today we are only unpacking the personal narrative assignment, this strategy could be useful for understanding expectations for Open Response Questions, On-Demand prompts, etc.

For unpacking, I use the "Stop Light" strategy.

I get a red, yellow, and green colored pencil. The green is something that the writer is skilled at--in fact, they are so skilled at this strategy or concept that they can teach it to someone else. Yellow stands for something that they've maybe heard before, but they haven't had much practice with. Red is something that they either have never learned, or something that they struggle with. As I'm reading the assignment (ours is several pages long), I'm reading, thinking aloud, and annotating based on my comfort level with skills that are required.

I model it like this, for example:

"The assignment says to 'Include the setting – the time and place where the incident occurred— and the situation. Who was involved? What was my life like before the incident? What was the incident?'," I say. "Well, I'm really good at describing setting, so I'm going to underline this in green."


"The assignment asks that I reflect on the incident. What did I learn or discover or realize from this incident? How did it change me? What are the future implications of this incident? Hmmm...well, I know how to reflect because my teachers ask me to do it, but I'm not so sure how to do it in a Personal Narrative. So, I'm going to mark this yellow."

I do this for the first page or so of the Narrative Embedded Assessment.

Work Time

25 minutes

For the Work Time, the students begin to unpack their own assignment, marking in the same Red/Yellow/Green style what skills and strategies they have already mastered, or what strategies they might need support with.

It takes them a long time to do this, and it should. Our assignment (the directions for the Embedded Assessment/Personal Narrative) is 3 pages long, plus a 2 page rubric. I also ask that they unpack the rubric, telling them that they need to understand how they are going to be scored. I say that there are no secrets in my class!

As students are unpacking, especially for the first assessment, I am circulating to make sure that they aren't just underlining willy-nilly. I stop and have conversations about why they are categorizing things the way they are. And, to dig deeper, I might even ask for an example of a time they used or mastered a specific concept--especially if I have a suspicion that they are marking green when it should be a yellow.

For example, I might say, "Oh, I see you've marked sensory language in green. Can you give me an example of a time you've used sensory language in your own writing?" Doing this really makes the kid accountable. It's easy to underline in pretty colors, but when your teacher asks for evidence...well, it's another story.

For those who might be technologically-advanced, I have my students do this on the Notability app on our class iPads. Here's a video of how that looks.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

It makes sense that since the whole lesson is just a giant reflection on their skills as writers, that I have them synthesize this information. For the Wrap Up for this lesson, I have the students tell me one thing they need support with. They post this on a sticky note and leave it on the board as they walk out of the door.

At first this might seem overwhelming, but it's surprising how many of them write essentially the same thing. For example, I always get a lot of students who ask me for help when it comes to organization. When I see this over and over again, I know I'll have to really slow down on this for the unit, giving lots of support.