Blogs, Grading

Big balls of gas and rocks!

An assessment is a way for students to demonstrate their understanding. While teaching, I have always found it important to provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge in ways other than your typical test. Let’s talk about just one way we can assess students knowledge without using a typical test.

We will look at a 3rd grade science unit focused on the solar system. This mini book is just one way that we can assess students in an alternative way.

Below, you will see the mini book I created as an example.

As you flip through the pages, you can see that I was able to include some bits and pieces of information that I have included to showcase my knowledge.

Notice that here, I am demonstrating knowledge about the sun with both my words and drawings. You can see that I have drawn the sun very large and colored it with red, orange and yellow to demonstrate the heat.


On these pages, you can see that I understand the order of planets, the relative size of these planets to each other and the sun, and the presence of the earths moon.


Again, on this page I am demonstrating my knowledge with both my drawings and my words.


Overall, from my work you can see that I understand:

  • the components of the solar system
  • the order of the planets
  • the proper colors of the planets
  • the size difference of the planets relative to each other and the sun
  • some basic information about each planet

Providing students with an opportunity to showcase what they have learned in a creative or unconventional way may encourage them to put more time into the particular topic. For example, if a student doesn’t really have an interest in space but loves drawing, providing them with an assessment in which they can draw and be creative may encourage them to absorb more information about space or create an interest in diving deeper into the material.

I have also developed The Solar System Mini Book Rubric to be used with this assessment, to ensure that students understand the expectations as well as providing a uniform method of scoring.


Using a mini book as an assessment instead of an exam will allow students to showcase the information they have acquired in a more creative, less stressful atmosphere. They will have the time to reflect on what they’ve learned and determine how best to showcase what they know, instead of answering the questions you put together. Even if you don’t use this particular idea, I hope that it will inspire you to try other forms of assessments than exams. If you have any suggestions of other techniques, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you liked this post, be sure to click the like button and share on Social Media.

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