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Assessment and Evaluation


 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

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.


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

Documentation samples


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  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

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.

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. 


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.

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. 



There is some great information from the assessment section in the Thinking it Through resource. 

Written Observation or Anecdotal records details some critical information about how to collect that information and when it is applicable.  Recording the time, date onto the back of work samples provides a context.  It also discusses some great points about factors that affect observation records. 

On p. 6 of the pdf there is a great chart that gives some ideas on “what you need to find out” and the “tools/strategies” you can use to assess.  If you do collect work samples; a binder, a folder or scrapbook is a great way to house the information. 

When assessing students it is always important to collect information over time so that you get their best work and really see their full potential. Keep in mind that accommodations may be beneficial for many of your students and as you meet with each child, you can see their unique qualities and change as needed.  On p.5 (p.30-31) of the pdf, there are ideas for instructional, environmental, and assessment accommodations.

I encourage you to read the section on Assessment in the Thinking it Through document as it give some great tools and strategies, some “ahas”, and there may be something new that can add a creative twist to assessments!!


Late last year I read an article about learning stories in a PD session and decided to give it a go.   It is a great way to showcase student learning and development as it is happening within the centres.  It is a narrative of the conversation that is occurring at the centre with students and possible the educator.  I took photos of what the students were doing and recorded the oral conversation.  If you have an Ipod or a video recorder this is helpful as sometimes the conversations are so quick, it was hard writing it all down (you can review later)!  Learning stories tell about where a child is at and where I need to plan for further learning.  You truly learn so much about a child’s learning when we just sit down to hear the conversation.  I love to play the videos over just to ensure I got everything. 

You can place these learning stories into books to keep in the classroom or in individual portfolios.  They are a great conversation piece to share with parents.

As outlined in ETFOs resource Primarily Play , documentation is important in the play-based learning program. Qualitative assessment through observation will begin to tell a story from beginning to end showing how the child has changed in his/her learning over time.  Portfolios are also a great way to capture the learning .  This year I have purchased binders for each student so I can place pictures and documentation of their learning through the inquiry process and in centres.


Documenting the learning of our students can often be a daunting and overwhelming task.  Keeping focused on what we need to find out about our children and deciding on open-ended question prior to the activities can narrow the focus.  Some focused questions to get you thinking about your students are;  What do I need to find out about them as learners?  What do I need to learn in order to plan a program for them?  What do I need to see children demonstrating? 

Keeping the oral conversation open at a centre allows us to collect a great wealth of information.  What we planned may not go as we expected, but it may teach us a whole lot about how our students learn.   At times, I have planned in my mind what I think they will do and I have my open-ended questions handy to start the conversation, but by placing out materials that are interesting, the students will lead the conversation in new directions and I will carefully as questions as needed.  This is good!  We will learn from them! 

When do we observe?  Observation should happen daily and early on in the school year.  It is part of what we do in the classroom to plan for student learning.  Gathering a base-line early on in the year, and then seeing a progression as they are learning new things.  Placing yourself in discrete positions around the room may be something to consider so that you do not interfere with the natural play and they will not rely on you for answers or help.  Daily observations are either planned or incidental.  For the incidental observations,  I may over hear something, or see someone doing something new–for these moments I always have a clipboard with blank paper on hand and my Ipod charged!  For the planned observations there are many ways to keep things organized. 

Some ideas of how to record learning that have worked for me are;

-notebook or blank paper on clipboard to record anecdotal notes

-pre-made observations sheets with children’s names in each square

-An Ipod to record conversations and take photos  ( I type these up later)

-index cards that can be moved into a child’s individual folder or sticky notes

For photos, I have seen teachers display a digital photo frame in their classrooms!

Once I have this information collected and depending on the learning goal—I use the pictures and conversations in my newsletters to display learning to parents, I display dialogue and pictures in the classroom on poster board, and I create learning stories/classroom books to add to our reading centre. 

Assessment That Informs Instruction in the Thinking it Through resources shares other ideas around observation and documentation.  Primarily Play is also a great resource for grades 1-3 that has a section on documenting learning.