In this episode, Kasey chats with Jen Giffen, a teacher-librarian and new Shake Up Learning trainer.

4 Ways that Go Beyond Tradition AssessmentJen shares ideas that will help teachers go BEYOND traditional assessments like reports, essays, presentations, and cookie-cutter assignments.

Learn how you can use projects like podcasting, Ignite talks, sketchnoting, and student voice to demonstrate learning.

You don’t have to keep doing the same, old-school, static assignments!

AND! Learn all about the Summer Webinar Series with Jen Giffen to go deeper into all of these topics.

This episode is sponsored by Schoolytics.

Schoolytics helps you measure, monitor, and manage student engagement and assignments. It also organizes all the student engagement data from Google Classroom in one easy-to-use dashboard. And my favorite part? Schoolytics is free for teachers!

Visit: to sign up!

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Thank you, Jasmine Pearman, a recent Google Slides Master Class graduate, for leaving this testimonial.

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4 Ways that Go Beyond Tradition Assessment

Sketchnote by Jen Giffen

Jen Giffen, aka Virtual Giff, is a Teacher Librarian and Former Curriculum Consultant in the York Region District School Board in Ontario, Canada. This school year Jen reentered the classroom and shares some of her favorite engaging student assessment and assignment ideas.

Adding color and joy is what Jen does best. You may remember her color-coding system to “beautify” Google Drive in episode 10 of the Google Teacher Podcast from a few years ago. In this episode, Jen discusses how technology has truly stepped up the teacher collaboration opportunity in sharing ideas for student engagement. When educators share what they discover and learn every teacher becomes a cog in this big machine that educates kids. It truly takes a village.

Related: Make Your Google Drive Beautiful

Beyond Traditional Assessment

As a Shake Up Learning trainer, Jen will be offering a 4-part webinar series this summer. Each webinar will explain several teaching strategies to help assess students in more engaging ways. Rather than dreading a stack of essays to read, teachers can look forward to interacting with student learning through these dynamic project ideas.

Dynamic Learning is at the heart of Kasey Bell’s books, Shake Up Learning and Blended Learning with Google. Going beyond traditional, static assignments is what Dynamic Learning is all about!

Teachers can learn new ideas that move away from the “cookie-cutter” assessments and assignments to give students the room to flex their creative muscles and truly showcase their learning. These 4 projects are not just essay alternatives. Jen will share how these strategies can be adapted to many grade levels and subject areas.

Related: How to Push the Boundaries of School with Dynamic Learning

#1 Podcasting

The first part in the webinar series discusses how student-created podcasts not only demonstrate student learning but also require students to practice a number of skills. Producing a podcast requires students to demonstrate multiple standards in many areas. Students might write scripts, record and edit audio, provide show notes on a website designed and built by them, and even read some fiction or nonfiction as background based on their topic. The podcasting possibilities are truly endless for students to share what they know.

The format of a podcast can take the shape of a fictional story, true stories, explanations, reflections, interviews and more. The other side to this project is the collaboration of students and then the sharing of this work. Students as an audience of learners is one more advantage for using this assignment.

In the webinar, Jen will also share how you can use Google Slides or PowerPoint to produce a podcast. No fancy equipment necessary!

Related: The Best Way to Listen to Podcasts

#2 Storytelling with Ignite Talks

Storytelling is an incredibly popular model for sharing information these days. Think TED talks. Now consider a TED talk with a 5-minute limit. That’s a basic Ignite Talk. Ignite talks are presentations accompanied with 20 slides containing only 5 words each that automatically advance every 15 seconds.

The simplicity of this project is appealing to many students, but it adds a layer of complexity when students are forced to choose their words wisely. The requirements ensure students use their creativity and critical thinking skills.

Students will also gain the skills necessary for creating presentations. The use of only 5 words per slide helps students to recognize that presentations are not about reading every slide to the audience. Considering the design of an engaging slide is also an important skill to learn when presenting an Ignite Talk. A dynamic project that certainly goes beyond the subject and includes each of the four C’s.

Related: Blended Learning with Google – Storytelling 

#3 Sketchnotes

Jen is the sketchnote queen! A research-based practice that can help anyone deepen their understanding of a topic. Jen first started sketchnoting in 2016 as a way to keep track of her own learning during professional development. She quickly recognized the power in this process and decided that if it helped her then it could help students as well.

Based on the research of sketchnoting, it can help with retention, memory, and synthesizing material. It can even be very relaxing. The great part about sketchnoting is that it naturally lends itself to differentiation to reach all types of learners. Utilizing images, words, size, and color make this activity personal and accessible for everyone.

Related: My Pencil Made Me Do It! 

#4 Amplify Student Voice with Flipgrid

In these times of a global pandemic, Flipgrid went from being a super cool tool to a must-have tool. For many teachers, using Flipgrid was a way to not only hear from their students but see their students’ faces.

Jen shares how she was immediately impressed with the value of Flipgrid and connected with its creator back in 2017. Rather than teaching Flipgrid through a checklist of items or functions, Jen shows off many of the bells and whistles of Flipgrid through activities. The activities that webinar participants will complete can then be translated into a classroom setting.

Be sure to register for this summer webinar and learn more about these assessment and assignment ideas from Jen. The webinars will be live with an opportunity to ask questions, but the recordings will also be available to those who register.

Related: 10 Awesome Ways to Use Flipgrid in Your Classroom

Jen GiffenAbout Jen Giffen

Jen is a Teacher Librarian and EdTech Consultant. She has an M.Ed. from the University of Toronto and a specialist in Education Technology. Google Innovator, sketchnoter, podcaster, and dad joke aficionado, Jen seeks to ensure learning is authentic and relevant, especially for struggling students.

Current Certifications: Google Certified Educator Level 1, Google Certified Educator Level 2, Google Certified Trainer, Google Certified Innovator, Apple Teacher

Jen’s most popular presentations topics: Sketchnoting, Google tools, keynotes, and Flipgrid

Shake Up Learning Summer Webinar Series

Jen will be hosting four webinars this summer on the topics above. Learn more and register here.

© Shake Up Learning 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kasey Bell and Shake Up Learning with appropriate and specific direction to the original content on See: Copyright Policy.


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