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in-learning-centres-assessment

 This is a great little read about how to keep track of assessment that is very quick and easy.  Below are some ideas from the Guide to Combined Grades http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/Learning-Together-commercial-print-craft-final-copy-195.pdf

Keep a clipboard handy for assessment possibly by subject or learning area–mark it as such–create a class list and produce a 3 column chart with these headings-  

• Three-column chart (Got It! Getting There! Needs Help) to quickly capture student understanding and next steps for instruction.

I keep something similar to this on hand at all times in a folder.  I use the headings Not Evident, Some Evidence, Evident.  Or Needs Improvement, Satisfactory, and Good.  I also keep a column for comments/next steps and a place on the bottom to write notes.

• Laminated folder with post-it notes to monitor ongoing student progress and development of a skill, strategy and/or technique (i.e., I, L, ?).

• Anecdotal notes, one-on-one conferencing and written observations of student understanding in a variety of settings (whole, small-group, partner activities).  I created a table with large blocks and placed each child’s name in one.  This way I can keep track of who I have written notes for and have the subject indicated on the top.  I also keep extra paper on hand if I see/hear a special oral conversation that needs to be noted.

dinosaur-table

The children have shown an interest in learning about dinosaurs so my ECE partner and I decided to enhance the idea by making an attractive centre.  We used table cloths for water and land, we added wood pieces for children to do as they wish, and dinosaurs.  Children brought over the books that illustrated where they lived, some wrote the dinosaur names referenced in the books and I displayed their writing next to the table, and words that describe some new knowledge about dinosaurs are also posted.  The display is on our sandbox table which we decided to switch over for the week.  Simple, easy, and has sparked some new learning on the topic! 

Next we will change the sandbox into a Paleontologist work site.  We have bones from a left over turkey, some brushes, name tags and some fun dinosaur hats they can wear to begin their research in the sand!

beautiful-stuff-inquiry-project

I have found a great book called:  Beautiful Stuff Learning with found materials.  It is a great resource to get a collection of found materials started in your classroom and a great springboard to spark an inquiry or 2.

My finding came at a great time! We have been working on the reading strategy, making connections and many of my students could not remember a birthday or have never experienced one so my ECE partner and I decided to create one.  The students have been listening to Junie B. Jone stories all year so we wanted to have a birthday for our character.  We planned and touched on all aspect of a birthday.  The resource, Beautiful Stuff, became the ”gift” the children would bring to the party.

The book begins discussing what recycled materials would be useful to collect from children’s homes. Things like; paper, old jewellery, buttons, ribbons etc.  They bring them to school in a bag for exploring in small or large group.  The book explores the materials and shares the dialogue between teacher and students, tells about the sorting processing, and gives some great prompts to move the thinking and investigating along.  Other chapters discuss building with wood pieces, collaging, and various other ideas that could extend what you can do with all the found materials.

Our Beautiful Stuff has lead us into a Building Inquiry, an Art Inquiry, we have used the items to extend into our Math Focus and Fine Motor for sorting.  As well, building on oral language.

The found materials have now become my art centre.  The children initially sorted all the materials into baskets, trays etc.  Each day they can access the materials to create.  I may add new items, give a lesson about something new they can do with the materials, I added more popsicle sticks and large cardboard on day, another day I added the paint.  They tied it into our building inquiry.

Below are a few pictures of the children first exploring, then creating with the materials.

  These children are showing what they have collected for the first time in small groups.

 This child created a house using the real wood pieces.  He is also drawing out the structure like an Architect. With adult assistance children are trying out real tools.

Below the children have creating pictures with the materials.

 

making-learning-visible

Here is a great website from the research project in Reggio schools in Italy.  There is some great information and pictures about documentation.

Main Page that will tell you about the project http://www.mlvpz.org/index.html

Documentation samples http://www.mlvpz.org/documentation/index.html

assessment-as-learning-in-primary

Planning with the end task in mind, deciding how you will assess your students, and what they need to know are many questions teachers ask themselves when planning lessons and units of study.  Backwards planning is what it is.  We work from our overall and specific expectations, think about the ’big idea” or our learning goal(s) for the activities that we have planned out.  This thinking will give you a clear idea of where you need to start and it keeps us focused.  Now, plan for the final product or the summative task.  This could be giving an authentic questions if it is math related, a response to a reading strategy you are working on…etc.

When we begin working on a new unit of study we need to collect information to see where students are at so we can plan what we need to teach.

Diagnostic Assessment is a ”pre” task that will give you an idea of what students know or not, before you get started. Example: 

Teachers can choose the assessment tools they need to collect, organize, and record information about the student learning during the unit.  It is also the informal times that we may see learning.  So choosing how that will be captured-camera, recorder etc. may be an alternate form of assessment to keep on hand.

Assessment as Learning is the ongoing monitoring of student progress, allowing for feedback, changes/tweaking, and adjustments or whatever is needed to give the students a clear understand of how they can improve.  Example:  This can be done in small group, with descriptive feedback, conferences, written exchange of dialogue, oral conversations, etc.  This may be a time when the teacher needs to provide mini-lessons to fill the gaps in learning to make the students successful. 

Here is a link to an article on formative assessment http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/Research-for-Teachers-Number-2-Formative-Assessment-article-nov-2010.pdf.  Formative assessment assists students making them successful by giving suggestions for improving learning rather then just judging.

Summative Assessment is the final task at the end of the unit where students show their final learning.  This can take a variety of forms and should allow for students to show their learning from a variety of tasks.  Some students may want to choose to illustrate their learning through a visual-drawing, artwork.  Some may need to display in an oral conversation, a play etc.  Giving students different assessment strategies based on their learning styles and needs, will engage students and give them other options to display their learning.

Here is a full link on ELC around assessment http://earlylearningcentral.ca/?page_id=2234

play-and-assessment-in-primary
Authentic assessment provides a more accurate and reflective picture of a child’s true abilities.
The attached article points out some important guidelines about play, observation, and assessment in an authentic environment.  Opportunities for children to show their learning in other ways besides paper and pencil tasks can engage students, allow educators to ask more questions, stimulates oral language, and enables children with special needs and learning difficulties to be more successful.  http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/assessment-that-informs-8-15-21-241.pdf

When creating centres in the primary grades they need to be inviting, allow for multiple students to be engaged, and connect to the curriculum or big idea (purposeful!).

Primarily Play Document provides some great examples of how to start and extend inquiry ideas that can connect to the curriculum expectations as well as some examples of what it could look like in the classroom.  http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/PP-57-59.pdf 

http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/newlookplay.pdf 

collecting-assessment-information-in-the-primary-grades

Assessment in grade 1-3 can take the form of anecdotal notes, rubrics, checklists, and others, but one I see being relevant and rewarding is a personal portfolio.  Teachers can collect work samples and place them into the portfolio and students to can contribute their own works as well.  http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/assessment-that-informs37-and-48.pdf

Over the last few years I changed how I collected information to tell a story.  The process of collecting information for me had to be organzied, the information I was assessing needed to be on hand, and I needed to be able to track all of my students.

Some examples; For guided reading groups in primary I used a simple table chart with students names inside the boxes and recorded next steps.  I also used a file folder with index cards that could be easily moved as they progressed in guided reading.  I would record book titles, next steps and left and move as necessary. One idea I did really like was something my students would use along side with me as a record of goal setting for reading.  I cut a regular notebook in half, recorded their name on the front and each time they were called to read with me I would note their running record in the book, we would discuss a goal to work on for independent reading, and they would keep it in their desk to refer to as they worked.  I kept photocopying to a minimum and it was a great conferencing tool.

The article above outlines some ideas on how to begin a portfolio about students, but in the primary grades they can have a say as to what work can be inserted.  The information in the book should tell a story and show growth and development in their learning over time. In Kindergarten, I have organized binders for each of my children with worksamples, learning stories, documentation from different aspects of the cirriculum.  I work to ensure that a variety of pictures are in the portfolio that tell a story as well.  Due to printing costs, it is entirely up to the teacher to decide what is relevant, but pictures do tell a thousand words and it is a nice keep sake to show some exciting learning opportunities that they can talk about when they see a photo.

In the primary grades reading and writing portfolios are often used to story work samples and work in progress.  I created covers, a word list, rubric or success criteria and stop and start labels for inside a double pocket folder that can be purchased at staples and I laminate them to keep for the whole year. 

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opportunities-for-self-regulation-in-fdk

The emphasis on play-based and inquiry-based learning in the FDK program has profound implications on learning outcomes throughout a child’s academic career. Here are several links to supporting play in the early years. http://earlylearningcentral.ca/?page_id=1192 

The program has evolved with the introduction of FDK.  Educators are more facilitators, listening to the children’s ideas for exploration (the emerging curriculum), placing materials out that are more exploratory–that provoke questioning and research to find out answers.  When children are engaged during play time many skills are developing including reading and writing. Oral language is a huge premise in the entire program.  Talking is most critical! Getting children to talk and model appropriate language is the foundation.  http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/literacy-30-used-mar-4.pdf .  Here are some great prompts and questions to get you thinking about how to assess oral language and some self-reflective questions about the program in your classroom.

Initially in the school year rules and routines are established that need to be followed both in and out of the classroom.  Some children have not been expose to a structured routine/environment at this point in their life and it may take sometime to get them to know the expectations.  As they enter opportunities at various point in the classroom the ability to problem-solve, get along with others, share toys, ask for support is all part of self-regulation that will be needed for grade 1 and up and for the rest of their lives. 

The two year play-based program provides children time to hone those skills necessary for life. When they enter the block centre or dramatic play they set their own rules and self-monitor how roles should play out.  It is at this point they will have to regulate what appropriate behaviours (within the paramaters) are acceptable–they need to talk out disagreements using problem-solving skills, they need to share and/or take turns, ask for help when needed, and adapt to various situations in the day.  Within the program the Educators model appropriate behaviours (some boards may follow programs like Second Steps to support), and provide ample opportunities for children to work on self-regulation at different points throughout the day. 

In my experience it does take some time for many of the children to acquire these skills.  They need to have a firm base of appropriate behaviours before they move up the grades.  In my opinion when children don’t know how to self-regulate they take on less desirable behaviours and find themselves in trouble.  In the K program it is important to build in the leadership skills by giving them roles and responsibilities, make them feel valued, and allow them to make good/positive choices.  The structure of the program then changes are they move to grade 1 where they are expected to sit long for lessons, often more large group teaching occurs, and pencil/paper tasks are required for learning.  I am a believer that the inquiry model is appropriate for all grades due to the fact that many skill sets can be acquired with a more emergent curriculum model.  Having taught in all primary grades there are some great opportunities to apply the inquiry model into social studies, science where we can apply math and literacy skills and meet the curriculum expectations.  

The New Learner: 

When children leave the K program they are learning to be independent thinkers, ask questions, apply learning and ideas into different contexts–link the concepts into new situations, have a firm base on printing, basic math concepts,  reading readiness skills, have the ability to appropriately problem solve, and understand rules and routines in a structure environment.