Dust from the Book Fairy

Ideas for assessment

Posted on: 8 April 2008

I don’t assign grades for library.  I don’t do much work with the kids where they produce a written, tangible product.  So how do I assess them? How do I figure out if they’re learning? This is something I’ve struggled with a bit, especially coming from a classroom teacher position, where I DID assign grades, give exams, assign papers and projects.  How do I know if we’re actually accomplishing anything?  I want them to enjoy coming to the library and to enjoy reading and hearing stories for their intrinsic value, but is there a way to measure that quantitatively? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this (if there’s anybody out there!)

So here’s one thing I sometimes do to see if they’re getting it:

After reading a story, I pass out my tiny whiteboards and some markers, and ask questions about the story we’ve just read.

Some lower level ones, like:

  1. Who’s the main character?
  2. What’s the setting of this story?

Some higher ones, like:

  1. What genre is this story?
  2. How can you tell it’s a mystery (or historical fiction, or whatever)?
  3. Tell me one way it’s similar to story X we read last week.

I can glance around at the answers, discuss them a bit with the kids, and see if they’re getting something out of it.  I do this with other things too, sometimes.  Like which reference book would be best for a topic.  I like the whiteboards because they don’t generate paper for me to toss, and because they force everyone to participate.  Does anybody else do something cool in their libraries to see if their kids are getting what they’re trying to teach?

P.S. I so understand the value of just letting the kids enjoy a story, with no questions afterwards or huge analysis of the plot, so I by no means to all this every week!

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