Monday, July 27, 2015

Word Nerds: Chapter 8 & Epilogue

Chapter 8 is all about assessing. Let me start off with the quote that started the chapter!
As teachers, I think we sometimes get caught up in the hustle of teaching, assessing, and giving grades that we often times forget the true meaning of assessing. I know I am guilty of this. It's a super busy time of the year, you grade the weekly assessment (I'll talk more about this in a minute), get your data/students together you want to meet with, then something comes up the following Monday and your reteaching groups gets pushed each day until you totally forget about it. It's not Friday again, you finally remember, but it's a little too late to get that group together. Before you know it, you are two weeks behind. Does this sound familiar?!? Please tell me I'm not the only one!

As teachers we have great and powerful intentions, but sometimes the to-dos get the best of us! This quote is something I'm going to place very near to my desk. It's something that I DON'T want to forget!

This chapter has also made me really think about the assessments I give in my own classroom, not just with vocabulary instruction. Every week I give an in-depth reading comprehension/skill assessment based on a skill we worked on as well as some from the past. The passages are usually 1-1.5 pages and the questions have at least 3 constructed response answers. It takes my students any where from 45 minutes to over an hour to complete. Is this what is best for my students?

This year, I'm going to try and do things a lot differently. My ELA time will be cut into almost half the time I had last year! I'm really going to try and make as many things work together as possible. Most of my reading assessments will come from my class novel we are reading. I'll talk more about this later! I just wanted you to know that chapter 8 had me reflecting on ALL forms of assessment, not just vocabulary!

The remainder of the chapter was really about different types of formative assessments (during learning, to inform) that I already use in my classroom. Here are some that were mentioned and explained:

  • Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
  • Observations (very useful & important)
  • Analyzing Student Work
  • Teacher Questioning (focusing on student response)
  • Student-Generated Questions
I'm going to end the post with two more quotes I found useful!
 This again goes along with what I was saying before. We need to slow down and really focus on what our students NEED from us!
One of my professional goals a few years ago was giving my students effective feedback. To improve/meet this goal, I read a PL book, How to Give Your Students Effective Feedback. It's a great read to anyone who is interested in this area. It goes right along with this quote. Our feedback needs to be two things! #1: it needs to be timely (ASAP) and #2: it needs to be effective. Your feedback should provide and describe a way they can be a better student or specifically stating what they did well on. Here's what the cover looks like if you are interested.
When we give our students feedback throughout the learning process, we are assessing what they know AND teaching at the same time... how awesome is that?

I would personally like to thank Leslie Ann from Life in Fifth Grade for motivating me to finally read *and finish* this wonderful PL book! I can't wait to take everything I learned back to my classroom. I desperately needed some direction in vocabulary instruction... I finally have it! :)

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