Show What You Know! How Students Can Demonstrate Understanding in a Virtual Classroom

Video Podcast May 27, 2020 15 min

After your students have had a chance to learn and practice something new, you want them to demonstrate their learning. While a final test may be a common face-to-face assessment practice, it is usually not your best choice in an online learning environment. Our hosts this week, Ty Stevenson and Doug Ferguson, will share strategies and tips for providing students with voice and choice to demonstrate their learning virtually. This week’s guest, Sara Nachtigal from Educurious, will share what virtual assessments can look like in project-based learning.

Sara Nachtigal is the Director of Teaching and Learning for Educurious, a nonprofit organization that aims to energize students with ideas that matter. Her current focus is the design of project-based learning curriculum and professional development; her previous work has focused on supporting adolescent literacy in an interdisciplinary world.

Sara Nachtigal
Director of Teaching and Learning, Educurious

What we are doing at Educurious is leaning into what we know about engagement and deeper learning to think about how the remote learning students are doing can really anchor their cognitive, behavioral, and emotional engagement.

Sara Nachtigal, Director of Teaching and Learning, Educurious


These resources and strategies were discussed during the Livecast and may be useful to you when teaching virtually.

Design Opportunities for Students to Demonstrate Their Learning

When designing student assessments, create meaningful experiences for your students that also provide you with an accurate way to measure their learning at the same time. If designed well and with the learner in mind, these activities can be one of the reasons your students want to keep coming back to your virtual class. Here are a couple of examples to consider:

Ignite Talk

  • A specific type of oral presentation where the presenter only has 5 minutes to speak on one topic, using 20 slides that change every 15 seconds.
  • Ignite Talks are fast and very engaging.
  • Ignite Talks are focused on one specific topic or subject matter.

Podcasts, Radio Shows, and Songs

  • Students can tell you what they know and what they think in their own words.
  • Teachers hear the nuances in student voices as they speak.
  • Students can create podcasts, radio shows, songs, audiobooks, or simple recordings of themselves explaining their thinking. Visit the article for digital tools to support this work.

Introduction to Project-Based Learning With Educurious

Mysteries of Space: Launch Lesson

  • “Where would you search for life in space?” Students will learn about extremophiles, a diverse set of organisms on Earth that can thrive in extreme environments—ones that would be inhospitable for most life as we know it. Students analyze data to classify the planets and moons in our solar system by their defining characteristics in a sorting activity.

Mysteries of Space: What Is the Scale of Our Solar System?

  • “What is the scale of our solar system?” Students will be introduced to the units of measurement that scientists use to measure objects within and outside of our solar system, and they will then calculate the dimensions of a solar system built to scale. This lesson provides options for constructing a model in a smaller space or by using a map of the school grounds and surrounding area.