Monday, August 30, 2010

Assessments, Why and What Ones Should I Give?

The beginning of the school year is stressful to say the least. There is a mile long to do list with no end in sight. Teachers spend day and night going to meetings, setting up their classrooms, making name tags, creating a theme for the classroom, putting up bulletin boards, making a back to school packet with information (that may or may not be accurate come January), lesson plans for the first days of school (maybe a week if your lucky), creating a rewards system, etc. What’s crazy is I probably didn’t even mention a tenth of what a teacher has to do before the students even walk into the classroom.
            Another “biggie” on the to do list is deciding which assessments to give! Every year I would change or tweak the beginning of the year assessments to help give me feedback to help drive my instruction. We assess students at the beginning of the year for a couple of different reasons; to benchmark the students so we can see their academic growth, to help establish homogeneous groupings for small group reading instruction and math instruction, and to drive our instruction and focus on areas of need, to name a few.

The following assessments I gave to my first graders. 
**If you teach a different grade you will want to look at what students should of learned in the previous grade and what you will be teaching in the first term. 

Language Arts
Letter Names
Letter Sounds
Write ABC’s
Sight Words (1st term)
Beginning Sounds
Medial Sounds
Ending Sounds
Fluency (Grade appropriate passage)
Guided Reading Level A-Z (Fontas and Pinnell)
Words Their Way spelling inventory

Number ID
Orally Counts
Count by 10’s
Count by 5’s
Days of the Week
Months of the Year
Coin ID and Value
Time to the Hour
Shape ID

This list may sound extensive, but the information gained from these assessments was irreplaceable. After these assessments, I knew my students and I was better able to fulfill their academic needs. These assessments took about 5 weeks on average to complete. Remember to get valuable feedback takes time. I also delegated some of the assessments to trustworthy parents.

TIP: How do I keep track of all the information?
   I would make a simple spreadsheet in Microsoft word for language arts and math for each term. I would list the skills across the top and the names I would run down vertically. Organizing the assessments in this way, helped me be able to quickly glance at areas of concern, with out having to look at each individual paper. 

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