Stage 3: Designing the Culminating Task/Performance Assessment

Let's check in for a moment. By this point in time you have:

  1. Selected your standards
  2. Clarified your standards
  3. Clustered your standards (at least one cluster)
  4. Identified your essential questions, topic, and broad understandings

Now we're going to take a leap ahead for a bit and begin to think in terms of what can your students do to demonstrate that they have mastered the standards and benchmarks in your cluster? This is the question that you'll want to be asking yourself. Along with that you need to be thinking of how you will assess that they have learned what you wanted them to learn?

One way you can do this by creating a Culminating Activity (Performance Task) that the students will do that has the following characteristics:

  • Asks students to "show what they know"
  • Requires students to rethink, apply, and expand on important learning/key concepts
  • Is complex/often with multiple steps and responses
  • Insists that students be able to justify what they do
  • Encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning
  • Is often designed for an audience larger than the teacher

Use the following phrases to help you think of culminating activities that you might choose to use:

  • analyze interpretations of key documents
  • evaluate ideas
  • take a position
  • defend a position on competing ideas
  • construct meaning using reading processes strategies
  • apply strategies of:
    • annotating
    • interpreting
    • connecting
    • analyzing
  • revise interpretations
  • interpret text
    • multiple perspectives
  • evaluate and synthesize information from various sources
  • research inquiry question, theme, or hypothesis
  • use technological resources
  • use traditional resources

Are you beginning to see some differences between this type of an approach and traditional classroom activities? By creating opportunities like those listed above, you just might excite some kids into learning.

The projects or performances that your students complete need to be based on issues, concepts or problems rather than on topics. (This is why identifying essential questions is so important). You also want to make these projects as "real" as possible. Ideally, the students should be given an opportunity to use the knowledge and processes that a professional in the field might utilize to complete the project. This is what is meant by an "Authentic Task."

Along with determining the task, you'll need to consider what will count as evidence that your students have met the benchmarks for the unit. This is where you'll want to be thinking toward the higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy. (to Bloom's Activity list).

Here's some additional resources with more information and suggestions for creating Performance tasks/assessment:

In creating a culminating task, you will want to be sure that it is clearly written with specific parameters. It should include a context which sets the background for the task, a purpose or goal statement, the steps of the task, and the evaluation criteria.

Activity #6-Try this now: Using your cluster of standards, brainstorm possible culminating tasks (performance tasks) that your students could do that would 1) engage them in the learning process and 2) demonstrate that they actually mastered the standard. Keep adding to this list. We'll use it soon.

Brainstorming a Performance Task is only part of the process. Once you have decided on a task, you will need to establish how you will design that task to assess student learning. The following sites have good information on developing and using rubrics as one form of authentic assessment. Please keep in mind that you will need to develop a storehouse of many different types of assessment tools to use. Rubrics are just one type of assessment tool.

Activity #7-Try this now: Read Creating Rubrics (the first link below) and then choose from the remaining links to see rubrics that others have created.

Main | Selecting | Clarifying | Clustering | Essential Questions | Performance Task and Assessment
Backward Mapping | Instructional Strategies | Writing the Unit

Hawaii Standards Alliance Team,
Understanding by Design: Grant Wiggns and Jay McTighe
Learning in Overdrive:Designing Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
Ruth Mitchell, Marilyn Crawfork, and the Chicago Teachers Union Quest Center.

Last updated 1/27/02
This site is maintained by Debi Tisdell