Authentic Assessments: Free Spirit News

My students love to share what they are exploring in school with their families. Each month, the students create a collaborative newsletter. We do this together in class and it’s an awesome way to wrap up a unit of study and a really authentic assessment that students can get into.

The students helped me come up with the idea to call our newsletter “Free Spirit News” to go along with our center’s name, Free Spirit Learning.

First, we make a giant copy of our newsletter.

The students come up with the main topic of our newsletter and what they would like to share with our audience, their families. The topic connects with the inquiries that we are researching in class. The students design the newsletter and create all of the illustrations. They also decide what information they want to include and how to display it.

Below is a picture of our first draft from November. The students wanted to send home an “All About Us” newsletter.


Next, I take pictures of the student’s work to document it.

I don’t have a student computer for my littles to access. If I did, I would have my students take turns typing up the newsletter and it would be a perfect opportunity to teach them how to use publishing tools.

I bring the photos home and finish the newsletter on my computer. I type the student’s writing in case their words don’t show up well in the photos and to fix any mistakes that would make it difficult for parents to understand the children’s writing. I teach in a multi-age classroom with students who range from 5-10 years old, meaning they are all in different stages of writing development.

Check out these process photographs:

And the finished copy that was sent home with parents:


Newsletters illustrate what my students have learned from our inquiries. It’s so interesting to see what concepts stick with each child, and what they think matters.

I’d love to hear the ways you document learning in your classrooms and any more ideas you have about incorporating newsletters.

With much heart,



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