Assessments are a very important component of our every day teaching. They must be accurate and reflect the students' abilities. I'd like to share with you my 5 tips I use and follow when assessing my students.
I assess my students through the process of completing a specific task. For example, if the student is using scissors to cut a circle, I'm taking notes on fine-motor skills, approaches and initiative to the learning process, persistence, ability to stay on task, and safety while handling scissors. The circle ended up looking like a square....that's not important at this time!
During this activity, the students were to create something
using a variety of shapes.
My assessment notes on this activity were: share of space and
materials, counting and naming shapes,
patterns, and spatial relationships.
The assessment I'm performing on my students MUST be developmentally appropriate for their age. Am I going to assess my students on the multiplication facts and reading fluency?....NO! The learning activities and experiences must promote their optimal learning and the development of the whole child. Read more about another way to collect data HERE.
Best practices are well-though out plans that are effective for the specific age group. When assessing young students best practices are KEY. My personal favorite is backward planning. I identify an area for my students to work on and develop and I backward plan from there, looking for effective, purposeful, and engaging activities for that specific skill.
In this activity we were exploring living things and the life
cycle of a plant.
Using a real plant, the students were drawing and talking among
each other about the plants they have at home and the plants we have in the classroom.
This tip really hits home! "I think he knows how to count to 20", "I think I've seen him creating a pattern", "I saw her the other day writing her name.....I think". These statements are not objective, they're just speculations. We must have data to support our assessments = best practices!
In my many years of teaching I've seen teachers and specialists who assess children in "auto-pilot". When they're sick and not feeling well, when their routine has been changed, right after a long break, etc. Please, don't get me wrong, I DO understand we have deadlines and I DO understand we have other 20+ students in our class, but we must be reasonable with external circumstances that affect the students, which will reflect in the assessment not being accurate.
Practice, practice, practice! For a student to master a skill, practice is truly necessary through various opportunities and different scenarios. We must allow our students to practice, analyze, be exposed to, and apply the new information to their daily lives.
I serve a low income community - last year several of my students had never been to the zoo and two of them had never seen or heard of an elephant or giraffe. During the unit of animals, these students had no clue what we were talking about. I found some virtual field trip videos and realistic zoo animal toys and introduced it to them. After all of that, it became less abstract to them.
After incorporating books, puzzles, puppets, learned about the animals
habitat they put into practice their knowledge creating a habitat for
the giraffe and the elephant.
We finished this unit sharing family photos of their zoo trips
and their pets at home.
These 5 tips have always helped me stay objective during my assessments, have helped me be organized, and stay on task meeting my deadlines. Learning Genie offers an electronic way to collect and organize your assessment data. I can easily pull up my phone or iPad and take photos or write down my observations super easy and convenient. Try it HERE!