Battling the Boss

Students can self-monitor their understanding and determine when they are ready to assess their understanding by Battling the Boss
81 teachers like this strategy
Battling the Boss Explanation

About This Strategy

Battling the Boss focuses on supporting students to self-monitor their understanding of a concept or skill in order to determine when they will assess their understanding of that skill. Due to the importance of student agency, goal-setting, and reflection to this strategy, it should be used with middle school and high school students. To begin the strategy, the student reflects on their understanding of material covered in the flipped or self-paced learning activities he has completed. The student lets the teacher know that he is ready to "battle the boss," which means he is ready to take a paper-and-pencil, digital, or verbal assessment on the material or skill. The teacher shares an assessment with the student or uses probing questions to verbally assess the student's understanding. If the student demonstrates that he has mastered the skill, he moves ahead to new material. If the student does not demonstrate mastery, the teacher provides a differentiated support (i.e. playlist, video resource, additional activity, etc.) before the student battles the boss again. This strategy can be used at any point in a lesson as a formative or summative assessment and can be differentiated based on the needs of the student. Through this strategy, students are empowered to self-monitor and make choices based on their learning needs, and teachers are provided with the assessment data they need in order to differentiate instruction.

Implementation Steps

60 minutes
  1. Design a unit of instruction focused on self-paced learning where students have the opportunity to choose when they will assess their understanding of a concept or skill. This can be done in a self-paced, mastery-based classroom or within a window of time students have to complete a series of activities (i.e. a playlist).

    • One way to prepare students to determine when they are ready to battle the boss or demonstrate their knowledge to their teacher is to support them in setting academic goals and reflecting on those goals. Goal setting and reflection will help students build the skills they need to self-monitor their understanding and use their data to determine if they are ready to be assessed.

  2. Give each student the opportunity to battle the boss when she is ready to show her mastery of the content. This can be done via a paper and pencil test, digital assessment, and/or verbal question probing.

  3. Assess whether the student has demonstrated mastery of the content and is able to move on to the next set of material. If she is ready, allow her to move on to new material. If the student is unable to demonstrate her mastery, provide additional means for the student to build an understanding of the material. Consider providing the student with a playlist of resources or an additional activity to build an understanding of the material.

EL Modification

Traditional paper-based, written methods of assessment may limit ELs' ability to demonstrate their learning. In conjunction with traditional assessments, consider giving ELs the opportunity to demonstrate their learning through:

  1. Conferences

  2. Take-home reflections

  3. Oral presentations or re-tellings

  4. Learning logs

  5. Graphic organizers

  6. Cloze exercises

  7. Visual/image representation

Coach Tips

Jessi Anderson
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

As a teacher who implemented this strategy in my self-paced classroom, I can tell you that establishing a classroom culture where self-monitoring and self-assessing are encouraged and expected is essential to the success of this strategy. When I used this strategy with my students, it was used in a self-paced, blended classroom. Students were moving at their own pace through curriculum and self-assessing when they were ready. Due to the variability of students at different spots in the curriculum, it was much easier to do one-on-one conversations as assessments. When implementing this strategy, you'll need to consider how many students will likely need to do the assessment around the same time. This will help you determine what type of assessment options you should give your students.

Tech Tools: HyperDoc


  • A HyperDoc can be used to provide structure and detail for a self-paced activity where students are assessing at different times. 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 match the structure of your classroom. 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.