Assessment that informs your teaching!
Assessment is paramount when supporting the learning and development of the children in your care and provides the bases of informed teaching. Without it you may as well be teaching blind folded. It also supports the children in becoming involved in their own learning and creates opportunities for them to understand their achievements and know what they need to work on. But what you really need is assessment methods that are quick, relevant and inform your planning. In this post I share with you many valuable everyday assessment methods, with lots of visual examples taken from real classroom situations. I also have a few free downloads for you too!
In the video here, the children are assessing their work as a class, pointing our their favourite work and discussing what they found difficult and sharing their solutions with their peers.
At the end of a project or an Aistear session the children take opportunities to talk about and review their work as a group, one-one or whole class. Here is an example where I video children's review of their work after Aistear. You will see that they choose to discuss difficulties they came across during their project. Notice how they help each other. I give gentle probing to try and get them to think about the reason they are encountering problems. This is a small group/one to one talk. But later I play the video back to the class and as a whole class we can discuss possible problem solving solutions to the child's difficulties.
These little copy activities don't take too long to prepare and personally I find it very satisfying filling the copies with interesting things. As infant teachers we don't have to take home piles of essays to correct so this is how we do copy time! I'd pick these anyway over a worksheets. I think the children value this work more too. I can quickly flip back in the copy and show the child how they have improved, I couldn't do that as early with pile of sheets.
This is a simple way to record what children know, what they want to learn and review what they've learnt. It can be recorded on the IWB or on a flip chart and stored for review later. Sometimes I will use a concept map to plan a future topical project with the children, like a new Aistear topic. It can be worked on over a few weeks adding to it regularly by sticking on pictures and drawings and making anotations. I encourage the children to bring in cut out picture from magazines if they like. I will be making one for my next topic Autumn/Halloween so I will post it when it's finished.
This was an area that I used to find difficult to assess. But now, using the methods mentioned below I have greatly improved the quality of my language assessment.
SESE/SPHE Copy - Topical Vocabulary Assessment
Aistear Copy - Topical Vocabulary Assessment
You know the drill here. I think about closed questions (one answer) and more open questions that might encourage the child to think and elaborate a little. I often record the children answering questions about a project and stick them together with an image. Either in a video or a picture linked to a quote. This type of assessment is a perfect accompaniment to a piece of their work. But with questioning in mind, it is very important to encourage the children to ask questions too, not just answer them. I find this is something infants find very difficult and they need to be encouraged and taught how to ask questions. You can see from the video below that it is a challenge for them and they have a lot to learn in regards to exploring their range of language when responding.
This is my most frequent form of assessment and I'm sure I'm not alone here. Most importantly it has to be quick, accurate and inform my teaching and planning. Running records or tracking records. Often following a checklist style with an option to add in a objective. I have a stack of them ready to grab when needed.
The assessment below works well for maths and literacy as it has more space for your objectives and a little room for comments. You can also put in quick keys to note children's concentration and whether they've meet the objective or not. Click on the image for a download.
If you do free choice during your Aistear - here is a assessment sheet that allows you to track where the children are playing to note children who go continuously to the same area. Perhaps if they spend too many consecutive days on the same station you could encourage them to try something new. Click on the assessment sheets below to download your copy.
This one works well when you have to take a few notes on an objective. Click to download.
Videos and Pictures
Video/Pictures on my class blog - My assessment doesn't get much better than my class blog. And it's stored in cyber space forever to look back on! You can see from my own blog here just how valuable the photos and images are to assess learning.
Teacher Designed Test
It is important that you formally test children at certain points of the year to avoid getting half way through the year and realising that a child does not know their letter sounds etc. I formally test/assess at many points throughout the year. I assess what they Should Know by the end of a given month, I have incorporated this into my plans so I allow the time. It is important that you allow the time that formal assessments/testing takes, especially with infants. It may mean a child being tested individually while the children have their Aistear or are working quietly on class focused task. That is best practice, don't feel guilty if you need to give them busy work so you can test a child properly. With infants that often means one-one testing, that's just the reality of the Irish classroom! We don't always have the extra teaching support so you have to do it yourself.
The Book I transfer them to...
Each child has their own pages. The little tabs sticking out the side has their name on them so I can quickly find their personal page. You could use any book for this type of assessment. This year I'm using a bright green hard back book I picked up in Mr Price (luminous Green so I can spot it a little easier when I lose it...lol).
An example of the type of assessments I take for the book. Mainly social and developmental observations.
Standardised Testing - Well, no need to chat about this one! :(
All of the above assessment methods are adapted from the Assessment in Primary Schools Curriculum: Guidelines for schools (NCCA 2017). They were receive very well by inspectors during our last WSE and copies of the tracking sheets and various methods were taken to be used as guidelines for NQT Induction Program. I'm glad to be able to share them with you now and I hope you can take something useful back to your class.
P.S. Like me on Facebook and Twitter where I like to share lots of fun and playful teaching ideas. Or visit me on Vimeo to watch loads of super Aistear videos!
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