12 Great Third Grade Assessment Ideas


If you were leading your class of third graders up the side of a mountain, you wouldn’t hike all the way to the summit without looking back to make sure everyone was still with you on the trail, right? Of course not. The same thinking applies in the classroom as well. That’s why quick, regular formative assessments are essential. Are you covering material too quickly? Or too slowly? Do some students need extra support? Understanding your students’ learning enables you to teach effectively and ensures each of your students succeeds. Get the feedback you need without breaking your stride with these third grade assessment ideas. Teaching remote? Don’t worry, we’ve got ideas for remote learning assessments too!

Move It!

Gauge student learning while also giving your third graders a chance to move and wiggle.

1. Four Corners

Write possible answers on a whiteboard or use the letters A, B, C, and D to designate spaces in each corner of the room. Next, read out a question and ask students to move to the corner that corresponds to their answer. Not only does Four Corners get students up and moving, but the speed at which students move toward the correct answer can tell you a lot about how confident they are in their answers. Likewise, students who seem to be tagging along with other students are likely to need additional support in mastering the concept. If it seems like too many students are following others, have each student write down their answer before moving to the corner corresponding to their answer.

2. Simon Says

Are your students understanding the new math vocabulary you just covered? Have them use their whole body to show what they know through a game of Simon Says. Students in Stephanie’s class (below) play Simon Says to review vocabulary related to lines and angles.

Show It!

Gestures or visuals allow you to get a quick read on student understanding. They make the perfect third grade assessment strategies for your toolbox.

3. Color Cards

A simple deck of colored cards is an assessment tool you’ll come back to again and again throughout the year. Create your own color cards by cutting pieces of construction paper into 3” by 5” cards or use different colored index cards. Laminate the cards. Then hole punch them and bind them together on a binder ring. Create a deck of cards for each student and have them keep their deck handy for quick check-in questions. For example, students can hold up a certain color to show their answer to a multiple choice question or they can use certain colors to indicate how well they understand a topic, or as a signal for help from a teacher.

4. Illustrated Ideas

Inviting students to illustrate a concept makes it easy to do a quick visual check for understanding. As an added bonus, many students increase their understanding of a concept as they work through the stages from initial outline to a detailed finished illustration. This assessment can become a game of Quick Draw by using a timer to limit the amount of time students have to sketch out an idea. For example, students could illustrate a historical event after listening to a passage describing it, or draw out the stages in the life cycle of a frog or represent a fraction as a shaded part of a whole.

5. Strive for Five

Share with students that learning is a process and as a community of learners, the class will work together to make sure everyone boosts their understanding from a zero (closed fist) to a five (open hand). At the beginning of a lesson, during a lesson, and at the end of a lesson, ask students to show their level of understanding with their fingers. Creating an anchor chart like the one below can help students remember the meaning of each number. Based on student responses, adapt your lesson plan or group students together to provide additional support. Invite “level 5” students to help students at other levels. Celebrate student growth as students move from a zero to a five!

  • 0 (closed fist) – I don’t understand at all.
  • 1 – I need help.
  • 2 – I need more examples and practice.
  • 3 – I understand pretty well.
  • 4 – I mostly understand.
  • 5 (open hand) – I completely understand.

Mark It!

These assessment ideas make use of written/drawn responses, making them perfect for quiet times in the classroom.

6. Self-Assessment Sticky Notes

Simple, but effective. Give each student a sticky note and ask them to reflect on their understanding of a task. Use an anchor chart to help students remember the different levels of mastery. This could be levels zero through five, or levels such as Novice though Expert. Keep things consistent by using the same self-assessment system throughout the school year. At the end of a lesson or after completing an assignment, have students add a sticky note self-assessment to their work.

7. What’s the Question?

A fun twist on the usual exit ticket, a “What’s the Question?” wall invites students to create a question that matches the answer posted on the wall.

Voice It!

Channel your students’ love of talking with these oral assessment ideas.

8. Interview the Learner

Divide students into pairs to conduct exit interviews about what they learned from a lesson or assignment. Share with students that effective interviewers want to understand the “why” of a story and hear about the process behind the learning. Provide students with question stems pertaining to the lesson, or invite them to interview each other about how their thought process changed over the course of the lesson (metacognition). Add extra fun to the interviews with toy microphones or microphones made from craft supplies.

Example Interview Questions:

  • What did we do today in class?
  • What did we learn about in class?
  • At the beginning of class, what did you know about the topic? What is something you know now?
  • Did you have any “aha!” moments today? If so, what were they?
  • What were some of the challenging parts of what we learned today?
  • What questions do you still have?
  • How might you apply what you learned?

9. Math Talks

Invite your third graders to share their mathematical thinking with a partner as they explain their solution to a math problem. Posting an anchor chart of math talk starter questions like the one below will help your students have effective conversations. Listen in on individual pairs or ask pairs to share their thoughts with the class.

Third Grade Assessment Ideas for Online Learning

Take advantage of these simple video call assessment ideas and helpful online tools to gauge student learning while teaching remotely.

10. Emoji Answers

Many third graders love emojis, so put them to work in your online classroom! Emoji responses can provide valuable insights into your class at a time when it’s harder to get a read on students’ facial expressions and body language. Ask students to choose an emoji showing how they felt during a recent lesson or assignment. Some teachers use emoji faces like “star eyes” to indicate mastery and “face with monocle” to indicate questions. Other teachers use weather emojis like a sun for “I understand clearly”; clouds for “I’m not quite clear/I’m not sure I completed the assignment correctly”; and lightning for “I have questions/I need help.”

Emojis can also be used for short quizzes. For example, you could ask questions that can be answered with an emoji like, “What kind of animal is Winn Dixie?” (Dog emoji) Or you could display a multiple choice question using a different emoji to represent each answer choice. Be sure to use emojis that are easily distinguishable from each other by shape or color so it’s easy to understand student responses at a glance.

11. Text Me

When students summarize a concept, they have to capture the essential elements of what they’ve learned. This can reveal a lot about what they’ve absorbed and understood. Ask students to imagine they’re texting a classmate who couldn’t make it to class today. How would they describe what was covered in class? What important details should the classmate know about the topic? Have students send you their text messages through the class’ online learning platform. Decide ahead of time whether you will allow slang and emojis as part of the message.

12. EdPuzzle Video Quizzes

EdPuzzle makes it easy to turn any video into an interactive lesson that gives you feedback on student comprehension. Use videos from YouTube, Khan Academy, Crash Course, and more or upload your own video. EdPuzzle enables teachers to add narration and questions for students.

For even more great resources for teaching third grade online, check out: Your Guide to Teaching Third Grade Online and Tips and Tools for Making Online Assessments Work.

What are your favorite third grade assessment ideas? Please share in the comments or on our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE!

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