Through out my research about assessment I noticed that their is more to assessment than formal documentation, and anecdotal based off observations. Assessment can be done through many different facets and each lends its self to new insights about the students and their needs as a learner.
Initial Assessment for Learning
In Early Reading Assessment:A Guiding tool for Instruction it is stressed that every student who comes into a class, comes in with different strengths and weaknesses. So formal reading assessments are done to determine what each student already knows and where they have gaps in their knowledge. Assessments like these allow teacher to be informed instructors. At Vancouver Island University we were taught how to use bench marks to assess students reading fluency, accuracy and comprehension; but their are more formal assessment tools that teachers can use when assessing their students. Some teachers find some tools more effective then others. Bellow are a few different prelearning assessment tool that can also be used.
NOTE: Its important to fully understand tools and be trained in them, before using them with students and it is important to not solely rely on these tools to assess students abilities and what they have learned.
Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP):
Assesses phonological awareness, phonological memory, and rapid naming. Use in K-12 for student performance. Administered individually only.
Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS):
A set of standardized measures of early literacy development designed to monitor the development of prereading and early reading skills. Use in K-3. Administered individually only..
Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS):
Assesses the reading areas of vocabulary, word analysis, and reading comprehension. Use in K-8. Administered individually or group.
Multiple Intelligences (MI):
A theory that eight intelligences should be used to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses.
In Alison’s Blog post How to assess Primary Students’ Work in Literacy Centers she shares some helpful tips on how to assess what learning is taking place in literacy centers. Her tips are both simple and provide informative feedback on how your student are doing. One idea is to pick two students each literacy block to check in on, since the teachers will be doing small group work this could be as simple as standing up and looking over at both students twice for about a minute each time, to see if they are on task and if possible what they are working on. Quickly jot down what they observe and return to small group work.
At the end of the week she would go through the students written work that have been placed in their literacy folders. She makes some simple comments, maybe a tip to work on for next time, to show the students that the teacher is checking their work. While she is doing this she also records what she is noticing about their work on this grid. She puts check marks where students are meeting expectations, giving her an overview of what is going well and what needs attention with individuals and the class as a whole. If you would like to see what exactly she focuses on you can check out her blog and get a FREE recourse package on literacy center assessment.
That being said some centers do not have written components so it may be hard for a teacher to see what students are doing in these centers, this is where the teacher can encourage the student to show case the learning they are proud of through the use of technological. Students can capture themselves; reading out loud, making new words with magnet letters, or showcase a puppet show they have created. The teacher can review these over time and use them when assessing the students learning.
All of these observation can help build up a learners portfolio; they show how the student is interacting with materials and provide insight in how the student is doing and what areas the student can use more support in. This being said Alison cautions teachers to not to formally assess work done in literacy centers, for example in report cards, since the purpose of literacy centers is for student to practice literacy skills, not showcase their learning.
Keeping student personally accountable for their work can be done in many ways. This can help students look at what they are doing critically. Both of the previously stated articles give suggestions on how to have the students assess how they are doing in their literacy centers. A simple way to check in with students and have them assess how they did in centers, is to have them fill out a simple happy face table. (shown bellow) And allow them to write on the lines below what they did well and a goal for next time.
In conclusion it is important to continually assess students learning to provides informed instruction to the class as a whole and to individual students. Weekly assessment of the whole class can allow teachers to find where students are excelling and where they need more guided practice and support. Observing a few student in literacy centers each day allows for purposeful observation of all student (over time) and help teachers know if centers are accessible to all students. By providing simple feedback and instruction, students are held accountable for the work they are doing and give purpose to the work they are doing. Self assessment also allows students to create goals and think critically about how they are doing in their literacy centers. A balance of formal assessments, observation, self evaluations and evidences of learning create a functional and informative learning environment for literacy centers to take place.