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Quick-Win ELA Activities to Assess Learning and Engage Your Students

Are you looking for fun, easy ways to increase student engagement and assess learning without spending a ton of time grading and working through complicated rubrics? Let me introduce 5 Quick-Win activities I’ve used successfully in my ELA classroom. Try out these ideas at the beginning of class for morning work or use them at the end of a lesson like an exit ticket.


Mystery of the Week

Post a clue each day of the week (Monday - Thursday) to a mystery person or character, place or story setting, item, vocabulary word or literary device. Clues could be word hints, images, quotes, coordinates to a location - the sky’s the limit.

You’d be surprised at how engaged and excited students are to solve the mystery! Decide on the rules and method of answering you want your students to use. Be sure to think about how many guesses you want each student to have. I recommend only two.

To submit a guess, students post their answer on Google Classroom, your learning management system, or write out answers on a notecard and turn them in to you.

The student who first solves the mystery is declared the "winner” and is announced at the end of the week.

Offer a simple reward like a small treat, homework pass or skip a quiz pass or something creative that matches your individual teaching situation.

Learning Lift Off!

At the end of a lesson, have students write down:

  • 4 Facts, observations, or insights about what they learned

  • 3 New words or terms they learned or heard

  • 2 Ways the information connects to them or their world

  • 1 Question they still have about the topic

Use notecards, sticky notes, or an electronic message board like Padlet.


Question Quick Think

Step up your vocabulary game using Question Quick Think.

You give students the "answer", which is a vocabulary word or subject-specific term from the lesson or unit of study. Their job is to write three questions for which the answer is the assigned word. Have some fun and include holiday/seasonal words.

Here is an example:

The word is INACCURATE

What should your answer in math never be?

What is a synonym for the word wrong?

What should a news reporter avoid being?


Happening Hashtags

After teaching a lesson or new concept, students write two or three hashtags to demonstrate understanding. This also works well as a response to reading activity, too. Create a shared Google doc where students post their ideas or have them post their hashtags on your display board.

Testing 1-2-3

At the end of class, have your students create one to three good “quiz” questions about the day’s lesson with the correct answer. At the beginning of class the following day or during the week, pass out the questions (make sure no one gets their own) and have the students answer them. Another way to use this idea is collect all the quiz questions and create a practice test in Google Forms.


Seasonal Activities

Don't forget to add seasonal activities to your list of ideas. My students love it when I bring in games and word puzzles that relate to holidays and observances.




What are your favorite go-to activities to increase student engagement and assess learning? I’d love to hear what works in your classroom.


Happy teaching!


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