Bike Rack Assessments: An Underused Assessment Strategy

Wouldn’t it be great if your assessments were efficient, informative, and meshed well with your lessons? While many assessment strategies can be just that, Bike Racks are a unique assessment strategy for any lesson. Bike Racks are not new, I just think they are underutilized and have great potential in Physical Education. Many adult education workshops or trainings use a “Parking Lot”. This is a space (usually a large sticky note on the wall) where attendees write ideas or questions they might have in the middle of the training. They are used so questions can be asked or comments made, but the flow of the training isn’t interrupted. Years ago, I was involved in several different youth physical activity trainings, and we called them “Bike Racks” to go along with the physical activity theme. Get it?…. Bike Rack… Physical Activity…

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Borrowing from this concept, Bike Rack assessments provide an allocated space for students to share their learning during Physical Education lessons. This space can be as simple as a piece of paper for reflection and brainstorming, a whiteboard at a station to address a specific question, or a wall with Post-it notes for students to share their learning/experiences. The beauty is this strategy can be used for a variety of outcomes. Here I will share just a couple.

Compliment Corner

This is my new favorite assessment, particularly given the emphasis on Social Emotional Learning and creating a safe culture for learning in Physical Education. A specific outcome might be “I can compliment others during Physical Education”. This assessment allows teachers to establish complimenting others as a norm in Physical Education. The teacher begins with a brief statement on the importance of compliments and how the compliment corner works. Any time a student gives a compliment, receives a compliment, or hears a compliment from someone else, they report to the compliment corner and write it down. I only allow two people in the compliment corner at a time, and it must been done when the teacher is not talking.

As the lesson progresses, the teacher pauses periodically and reviews the compliments given. In my experience using this approach with students last spring, third graders and older can really understand the importance of specific compliments such as, “Wow, thanks, you gave me great feedback” or “You are a great teammate”. This was a difficult concept for younger students. For this reason, their compliments may be as simple as “good job”. Also, if writing is taking too long for younger students, a simple tic mark or a smiley face may be how they report their compliments (This last idea is from teachers I met this summer in Colorado and Washington). When the lesson is over, either keep the Post-its or take a picture of the whiteboard and “BOOM!” you have data related to student progress toward meeting the outcome.

Again, I love this assessment because it provides data, allows students to share their learning, and establishes a “Compliment Culture” in Physical Education.

Bike Rack – Station

Most teachers use stations when teaching. Another strategy for using a Bike Rack is to make the assessment one of the stations. As before, a white board and a cone make for a great Bike Rack station. For instance, during a fitness circuit the outcome might be, “I can identify at least one way to make exercise or physical activity more enjoyable”. At one station is the whiteboard and markers. Students brainstorm ways they can make movement more enjoyable. Examples we saw when we did this last month with 5th graders included friends, music, and pick your pace. These were all examples the Physical Education teacher has mentioned to students throughout their elementary years. This was the first time they had been asked to share those ideas back via an assessment. It was interesting seeing the strategies they reported without much prompting. This same idea could be used with any type of stations and any outcome.

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These are just two examples, and I think Bike Racks offer an efficient strategy for collecting useful data to impact instruction.

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Be sure to go to to see more Bike Rack assessments for a variety of standards-based outcomes developed to help students meet lesson outcomes. We would love to hear your thoughts. tHRIVE!

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