Assessment, CEP813

Using a CMS to Create an Assessment

In a previous blog post, I wrote about my critical review of three Course Management Systems (CMSs) and why I chose Canvas to use with elementary school students. Taking it a step further, I have used Canvas to create a digital assessment for my second graders.

In this video, I walk the viewer through my assessment and describe its purpose and my teaching context. I also critique the assessment based on three of the criteria from my Rubric 4.0 and give a rationale for using Canvas as my CMS. You can read more about this in this post.

Purpose of This Assessment

This is a summative assessment of physical science concepts in second grade. The same assessment will be given as a pre-test and as a post-test to assess students’ understanding of course concepts and to measure their growth over the unit.

Although this is a summative assessment, similar questions can be asked throughout the module in formative assessments using digital tools like Kahoot! or using offline polling. The results of those assessments determine whether course concepts need to be revisited individually or retaught as a whole group. In other words, assessment affects classroom instruction.

Teaching Context

In my two elementary schools, I teach STEM curriculum that is developed by a nonprofit company. It is a comprehensive curriculum that includes a variety of activities, projects, and assessments. When necessary, I modify the curriculum to suit my students and to meet time constraints. I co-teach with classroom teachers in their spaces, adapting instruction based on the formative and summative assessments that take place.

The learning objectives that are assessed are based on the following standards.

Next Generation Science Standards

  • PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter – Different kinds of matter exist and many of them can be either solid or liquid, depending on temperature. Matter can be described and classified by its observable properties.
  • K-2-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
  • ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions – Designs can be conveyed through sketches, drawings, or physical models. These representations are useful in communicating ideas for a problem’s solutions to other people.
  • Science and Engineering Practice – Analyzing and Interpreting Data – Analyzing data in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to collecting, recording, and sharing observations.

Common Core English Language Arts

  • W.2.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).
Rubric 4.0

Earlier this semester I created Rubric 4.0, a tool with which to assess other assessments. When I created Rubric 4.0, I considered the project-based learning environment in which I teach and the projects my students create. Although the assessment I am describing here is a test, not a project, I used Rubric 4.0 to assess it. The following three criteria were addressed in this CMS assessment. Other criteria, such as Criterion 10: Provides multiple means of action and expression, are not met by this test alone but are allowed for when you consider that students make a culminating project in addition to taking the test.

Criterion 3: Aligns with Established Goals

This assessment aligns with established goals (standards) and with short-term and unit-specific goals. Therefore, this standard is met.

Criterion 4: Transparent learning targets

Students are presented with learning targets in this module early. They are posted in the classroom in the form of “I can” statements.

Criterion 9: Technology component

Students use iPads to log in to Canvas in order to complete this assessment. This criterion is met.

Rationale for Choosing Canvas

As part of my work in CEP813, I performed a critical review of three CMSs. There are many different features of CMSs but I focused on the assessment aspects when I chose this CMS.

Based on the results of that review, Canvas is the most robust system that can be tailored to provide easy access, even for young students. In the free version of Canvas, teachers have the option of building courses from scratch to gain unlimited access to the system (in terms of time and number of classes). I have scratch-built and customized existing courses in Canvas before and would be able to do this, but it may be a limiting factor for other teachers who prefer an out-of-the-box CMS package.

For the purposes of creating assessments in CEP813, I decided to use Canvas, which scored the most points in my critical review. Although I previously created a hybrid art course in Canvas for CEP820, I wanted to further explore the full-featured assessment and tracking capabilities that Canvas provides.

Assessments in Canvas can be configured to include a variety of question types. Teachers can identify correct answers to some question types so that Canvas automatically scores those questions. For other questions, teachers can use the speed grader feature in Canvas to quickly and easily grade many assessments.


The following images were used in the creation of my CMS assessment:

Big Balloons” by Chris Breeze is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Bubbles” by kirahoffman is licensed under CC0

Crayons” by Max Pixel is licensed under CC0

Fire Truck” by Garciacom is licensed under CC0

It Took 38 Year for the Hose to Spring a Leak” by oddharmonic is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Juice” by Rebecca Siegel is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original

Popsicle – Orange Cherry Grape” by Ken is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Teddy Bear” by Polimerek is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Water” by jarmoluk is licensed under CC0

Header image in blog post:

Frozen Waterfall” by Peter Griffin is licensed under CC0 / Cropped from original

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