Self-Assessing to Select Appropriate Learning Activities

Students self-assess their level of mastery and identify next steps for learning
15 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

Learners can use levels of mastery of a given objective, unit, assessment to self assess. The process of having the multiple levels, and thinking about their place within it, helps them to understand where they are at, and where they need to go.  Engaging in a self-assessment to select appropriate learning activities empowers students to make decisions about the necessary activities to complete to develop mastery of the objectives. 

Like it, Love it, Gotta Have it: Ability Level Skill Development

90 minutes
Aaron Kaswell
BetterLesson Master Teacher

Like it, Love it, Gotta Have it focuses on supporting students to self-assess and determine the level of practice needed to master a skill. With guidance for completing an accurate self-assessment, this strategy can be used with students in upper elementary, middle, and high school, and across content areas. To begin the strategy, the teacher completes a lesson on a skill. Once the lesson is complete (on the same day or the following), the students do a self-assessment of their understanding of the skill and navigate to the designated zone in the classroom (like it, love it, or gotta have it). Each zone contains leveled work appropriate for each students' identified skill level. This strategy can be used at any point in a lesson where differentiated support is needed for students. Through this strategy, students are empowered to self-monitor and make choices based on their learning needs, and teachers are provided an avenue for differentiated support for students.

Implementation Steps:

  1. The teacher designs and implements a lesson focused on a skill they'd like students to master. This lesson can be done with the whole class or via a flipped method (video and/or content).

    • If your students have 1:1 devices, you might consider using Edpuzzle or HyperDocs to design a flipped lesson.

  2. Using a self-assessment protocol, the students self-assess their understanding of the skill taught during the lesson. This self-assessment determines the designated spot or zone of the classroom students will move to.

    • For example, Aaron Kaswell uses three zones: like it, love it, and gotta have it. Each zone focuses on a different level of the skill and will convene in a different part of the room.

      • Like it: beginning skill development

      • Love it: medium skill development

      • Gotta Have It: advanced skill development

  3. Once students get to their zones, they work independently or collaboratively with other students in the zone on their assigned leveled task.

  4. As students work, the teacher circulates and monitors students' understanding. If a student needs further help than what is provided at the station, the teacher may choose to have the student go to a new station based on their needs.

Leveled Self-Assessment

20 minutes
Daniel Guerrero
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

In Leveled Self-Assessment, learners use levels of mastery of a given objective, unit, assessment to self assess. Self assessment around mastery allows learners to identify their skill gaps and strengths, track their progress, and leads, critically in this domain, to their ability to decide on a path change, advocate for support, and set goals. This strategy works for any classroom, with modifications (like emoji self assessment for early elementary).  

Implementation Steps:

  1. Create your student-friendly objective or competency standard that learners will self assess on (i.e. I can add fractions with unlike denominators)

  2. Create 3-4 levels of mastery within the objective; these can be content specific (i.e. Level 1:  I can only add fractions with like denominators) or general based on overall feeling (i.e. Level 1: I can't really get started on this!)

  3. Share the levels with learners, so they understand (for some situations, it can even work to put an example of work or understanding at that level - Coaching students through the why and process of self assessment is the most often skipped step

  4. Give learners the time to self assess at many different times, at the beginning of a lesson to set them up to know what they are striving for, at the end to chart their growth and identify next steps, or before an assessment to compare their thinking to the result.  

  5. Go deeper with self-assessment by leading it to goal setting, formal assessment, and peer consultancies, among much more.

Leveled Self-Assessment for Distance Learning

Kelly Kennefick
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Students can self-assess their understanding or level of comfort with a specific skill during a virtual class meeting or virtual conference.  In addition, students can also self-assess during asynchronous work to provide the teacher with feedback on their levels of understanding and comfort. 

Implementation steps:

  1. Determine what competency standard students will self-assess on.

    • Consider having students self-assess a standard that they have been focusing on independently or that you recently introduced.

  2. Based on the skill, create 4 levels of competency. 

    • Make these specific, such as “Level 1:  I can add fractions with like denominators” to support students to effectively self-assess.

  3. Determine when and how students will submit their self-assessment data, whether they will complete the self-assessment at a certain time (e.g. Friday), during a live session, or asynchronously.

    • For synchronous self-assessments, once students have completed their Self-Assessment, you can have them submit their data via a Zoom Poll, a Socrative Exit Ticket or a Google Form for example. (See more information in the resource section below). For younger students, you might ask them to write their number on a paper they hold in front of the camera.

    • If students are completing the self-assessment asynchronously determine what tool you will use to collect the self-assessment data. Consider using a digital tool, such as Google Forms (see more information in the resource section below) or use your own LMS.

  4. Have students complete the self-assessment.

    • Self-assessing can be challenging for students, so consider sharing work samples for each level prior to students self-assessing. These examples can guide students to effectively self-assess. Consider embedding these within the self-assessment or sharing with students through an LMS or email prior to students completing the self-assessment.

  5. Use the data to tailor your instructional decisions.

    • If many students rate themselves as levels 1-2, consider using your live time for reteaching.

      • If you are unable to meet together, consider creating a video to send to students that reviews the skill. See the “Using Video for Flipped Learning Environments” in the BetterLesson Lab for more information on leveraging videos.

    • Consider using the data to assign differentiated assignments to students based on their level of understanding. 

      • For example, if a student is level 1 consider asking them to join you for office hours and additional practice.

      • For a student who is a level 2 consider using a small group session for additional practice.

      • For a student who is a level 3 consider providing a video and additional practice or an extension activity.

      • For students who are a level 4 assign extension activities or move forward in the curriculum.

    • Overall, use the data to review, reteach, or move forward.

Like it, Love it, Gotta Have it For Flipped or Distance Learning

Students move through a personalized pathway based on their identified ability level in order to grow their content or skill levels.

Implementation Steps:

  1. First, build learning pathways (a series of tasks that span mastery levels over time), based on the "like it, love it, and gotta have it" ability levels.
    • Using a digital tool like Deck Toys, Symbaloo Learning Paths, or Mastery Paths on Canvas would be a great way to build these pathways.
  2. Have students self-assess on a skill after participating in an in-person or virtual lesson. Students can share their self-assessment with teachers during a 1:1 in person or virtual conference or by sharing with their teacher a googledoc that includes their self-assessment. To support students to self-assess, consult BetterLesson's Leveled Self-Assessment strategy (linked below) or BetterLesson's Learning Target Self Assessment strategy in the BetterLesson Lab. 

  3. Students start on their self-identified learning pathway. Students use the learning pathway to move through the material at their own pace.

Special Education Modification

Nedra Massenburg
Special Education Specialist

These self-assessments allow students to identify their skill gaps and strengths, track their progress, and leads to their ability to decide on a path change, advocate for support, and set goals. Self-assessing to select the appropriate activities support students with disabilities by providing a safe, structured opportunity to develop reflection and assessment skills to help them identify growth needed in a lesson.

These strategies help students reflect,  self-assess, and practice skills requires significant executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.) and written expression skills.  In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty with independent, multi-step reflection activities, and/or written expression consider the following modifications:


  1. Any leveled self-assessments given to students should strive to mimic the final assessment environment as much as possible.  Thus teachers should provide any test accommodations (read aloud, extra time, reference sheets, etc.) for students with disabilities as they would for a summative assessment.
  2. Consider using written, verbal and movement-based methods for quick self-reflection (such as the attached resources) to give students and teachers multiple ways to check for understanding.
  3. Model for students how to accurately self-assess at the end of a lesson.  As an example, a teacher may say  “Now you will have one minute to reflect on today’s lesson and rate yourself in a fist to five.  If you got almost all the independent practice problems done correctly on your own, you should rate yourself a four or a five.  If you were only able to complete three or fewer problems, you should rate yourself a two or one.   After the timer for one minute goes off, I will ask everyone to show me their fist to five.”
  4. Use visual timers and verbal reminders for each part of the process to help students with task initiation and task completion. As an example, a teacher may say, “Now you will have one minute to complete the self-assessment on today’s lesson.  After the timer for one minute goes off, I will ask everyone to move to the zone in the room that matches the number they wrote on their assessment.”
  5.  Students with disabilities could be provided a similar assessment as their peers with a smaller set of assignment choices or a smaller number of assignments to complete. See the "How to Adapt Your Teaching Strategies to Student Needs" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  6. If multiple teachers are present in a setting, consider having one teacher work in a small group of students with disabilities to provide them more scaffolded modeling and more frequent feedback at each practice zone.  As an alternative, an additional teacher could also perform an alternative teaching lesson of a specific skill for students who rated their mastery very low on their self assessments.

EL Modification

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

This strategy is great for engaging English learners in practicing self-assessment as well as differentiating learning. Leveled self-assessments give English learners an opportunity to learn in a scaffolded way how to accurately assess their level of mastery of a topic. Teachers are able to guide learners’ evaluation with real-time data and differentiated activities. Learners are met where they are at and teachers have the opportunity to work with small groups and gain insight into learners’ thinking. 

English learners using this strategy are required to listen to, read, and follow directions. Learners are asked to communicate their self-assessment through speaking and writing. Finally, learners are asked to engage with the language domains required to complete skill development tasks. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:


  1. Ensure English learners understand all components of the self-assessment protocol and the process for determining which zone they should begin with, e.g., ask for learners to restate directions at each stage of the process before they get to work. Consider previewing or partnering with learners’ language specialist to preview and orient to protocols and/or processes for learners at lower levels of proficiency. Review the "Teacher Tool: Leveled Question Stems" resource for more information.
  2. Ensure English learners understand the levels. Consider simplified, numeric or color-coded charts or posters on the wall and reference them often. See the "Example Leveled Poster" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  3. Perform 1:1 check-ins with English learners new to self-assessing. Focus on understanding of the protocol using non-verbal cues. For instance: Consider giving explicit, numeric benchmarks for assessment, e.g., meeting expectations = solving 80% of problems correct, 80% of the time. Consider anchoring the self-assessment protocol with pictorials.
  4. Ensure English learners understand all directions for activities in their level before beginning to work e.g., ask for learners to restate directions. If the activities are new to learners, consider previewing or partnering with learners’ language specialist to preview for learners at lower levels of proficiency.
  5. Provide English learners with familiar reference sheets such as graphic organizers, word banks, sentence stems, formula sheets, etc., to use as needed during activities.

  6. Provide comprehensible content in activities that require learners to read-to-learn. Consider providing home language content as available during independent or technology-based activities. When available, home language content can be a powerful tool in developing and progressing skills. See the "Research and Bilingual Content Resources for English Learners" resource in the resource section below for more information.

Coach Tips

Daniel Guerrero
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

If students are selecting their own level, spend some time with students before they actually pick having their levels. Work with students to self-assess and identify what the levels might be first.  This builds understanding and investment in the levels themselves over time.

Tech Tools


  • Plickers is a tech tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices. Students are handed cards with a different symbol on each side. Each side represents one out of 4 possible answers. The teachers scans the group with a smartphone or a tablet and instantly get data on a specific question.

  • Plickers supports self-assessments by creating the possibility of making them private and less threatening for students than hand signals. Only the teacher can by this method have access to the different groups created and it can encourage students to self-assess more accurately. It also creates automatically a record that teachers can compare to their own formative assessment data to ensure that students are accurately using this practice. It opens the door to 1:1 and group discussions when gaps are identified between self and formative assessments.


  • A HyperDoc can be used to provide structure and detail for a leveled activity. A HyperDoc can be designed from templates or created from scratch using a word processing program. Students can type directly into these documents or use them as a guide for learning a concept or skill.

  • HyperDocs can be easily designed or modified to meet the needs of different learners. If using a Google Doc or Slides for the HyperDoc, students can easily make a copy, write inside the document, and submit their responses for review. Additionally, if only portions of the document need to be modified for a learner, the teacher can make a copy and modify the sections that need to be changed.


  • Edpuzzle can be used as a flipped video with assessments for leveled student work. The Edpuzzle can also be used for additional instruction or practice depending on students' understanding of the concept or skill.

  • Edpuzzle is a simple way to give students access to flipped material and to assess their understanding of that material.


  • Deck Toys is one way to build a digital pathway for different levels of learning. It can be set up to differentiate instruction and engage learners in mastering concepts and skills.

  • Deck Toys can increase teachers' efficiency with monitoring students' progress, embedding formative assessments, and using those assessments to map students' course through content.

Symbaloo Learning Paths

  • Symbaloo is one way to build a digital pathway for different levels of learning. It can be set-up to differentiate instruction and engage learners in mastering concepts and skills.

  • Symbaloo Learning Paths can increase teachers' efficiency with monitoring students' progress, embedding formative assessments, and using those assessments to map students' course through content.