When I began my teaching career nearly 12 years ago, assessments meant the tests at the end of the chapter or unit. It meant the standardized testing done at the end of the year. While in college, I learned about summative and formative. At the time, I thought “Why so many? Why different names? What in the world do you do with the results? You can’t change the results because those kids have moved on.”
As I continued my teaching career, I quickly found the need for assessments and how best to utilize them. Today, I use different forms of assessments on a daily basis. I use the information to guide my teaching for the next week. Here are 3 assessment strategies I have found most helpful for next day planning:
- Thumbs! Yes, thumbs. This strategy has been used in educations for awhile but we often forget it as we get into the teaching. I use this best during the teaching and learning phase in the classroom. Once I have cleared a misconception or have taught a new concept, I ask students to assess their learning with a thumb: a thumbs up means “let’s keep going”, a thumb to the side means “I kind of get it, but need further assistance”, and a thumbs down means “help me! I’m so lost!” If there are only a few thumbs to the side or down, they are now in small group with me while the rest of the class is moving forward. If there is a great number of students with the thumbs to the side, we will do several more problems and re-assess again. If there are a great number of students with the thumbs down, I will ask for clarification on where the students got lost. I can then try again and clear up the new misconceptions. I will then re-assess after the teaching again.
- Flash me! Yes, flash. Student flash the answers to problems on their whiteboard to me. During the guided instruction phase of learning, students will use whiteboards to write their answers down. Once the student answers the problem on the whiteboard, they turn it over. Once see everyone has turned them over, I say “Flash me!”. Students turn their boards over and hold them up for me to see the answer. If there are only a few students with the incorrect answer, I will walk up to them and give them immediate feedback so they can correctly answer the next question. If many of them have gotten the incorrect answer, I will review it as a whole group. We will do this until most (nearly all) the students have written the correct answer. The few that are still struggling are now in a small group with me.
- Exit pass! It is a steady tried and true assessment. The exit pass can be various items. If I noticed the class did well on the assignment, I use it to pose a higher thinking question to see if they truly have it or are still in the beginning stages of the learning. If I noticed they struggled with the concept, it will be a couple of problems similar to the day’s work. I also like to use this time to work on vocabulary that was introduced in the lesson. Student may define, write in a sentence, write a short description of the word, draw a picture to represent the word, etc. Exit passes can be designed to last a minute or five. It is flexible and you are able to use the data to drive your instruction for the next day.
But what about time? “I only have 45 minutes! How can I honestly do instruction, assess and small group all in one period?!” That is ok! Sometimes, I do my small group the next day while the rest of the class is working on bell work. Sometimes I do it during my student’s intervention period at the beginning of the day. Assessing regular helps you determine if you need to d a whole class intervention of the concept or assist a few students. Assessing regular saves time farther down the road as you move through curriculum.
I enjoy hiking in the summer and traveling around the state with my 3 children and husband.
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