assessments

Preschool Teacher's Data Collector

One day I was getting ready to do a whole group alphabet activity.  It was a simple 'swat the letter' game where you call out a letter name or sound and students take turns whacking the letter card with a fly-swatter. I was trying to decide which letters I wanted to focus on for this activity. I knew that I couldn't focus on all the letters of the alphabet because that would become too tiresome and I would let loose the ants in my kiddos pants.  

But--- which letters do I choose?

I needed to know, as a whole, which letters my students were struggling with the most.

That sounded like a data nightmare. -data is not my favorite thing, fyi-

But, now my curiosity was peaked.  Which letters on average were giving students trouble?  While were at it... which numbers, shapes and colors were learning curveball culprits as well?

So, even though -data is not my favorite thing- I made it work.  I created a template that can be used in Adobe Reader (free btw) where I enter the letters/numbers/shapes/colors that students could not identify on our most recent assessment

The form tallies up the number of students needing help with that particular skill.  So, the higher the number in the total column = the letters I needed to focus on in circle time.

My little data experiment totally worked and I can sleep better at night knowing I didn't just thrown caution (in this case alphabet letters) at the wall and hope I wasn't wasting time focusing on letters they already knew. 

And.....since I went to so much work - I need someone else to love on this little data collector too.  It just feels nice when someone besides myself can use something I worked hard on.

So, click below to get this Preschool Teacher's Data Collector - but promise me - you will open it in Adobe Reader (free - google it) - because if you don't, it will not work as planned!

Now, go forth and collect that data teacher friend!

Do This, Not That = Assessment Edition

Remember that time I told you about how I set out to make my own assessment program?  If not, you can read it here.  

It wasn't the most fun I have ever had... it was time intensive and not easy.  And you can bet your bottom I learned a lot.

Teachers work hard and teachers need more love!

So, I wanted to share with you what I have learned in this Assessment Edition of....'Do this, Not That' (read that with a gameshow host voice!).

When getting your assessments in order....

DO plan ahead: planning ahead can make sure that you are ready for year in regards to assessments.  You don't want to be spending your weekends during the school year figuring it out!

DON'T wait until the second week of school (like I did one year).  Not wise, I don't recommend it.  It leaves you feeling 'off' and unprepared.


DO be intentional: Don't just create assessments and/or goals because they seem like what a preschool teacher should be doing.  Be intentional. Ask yourself why you are assessing each and every skill.

DON'T wing it: it only leads to time-wasting


DO map out how parts of your assessment plan relate to one another:  this was a big way that I got my assessments in order.  I had to see a birds-eye view of how it all fit together. 

DON'T let your assessments separate into pieces that lead to a non-cohesive plan: that will for sure equal more work and/or insufficient data. 


DO consider how you plan on assessing students: is a whole group, small group, 1-1 setting best for your students? Instead of drill and practice, would playing games to observe skills be the best choice for your students?

DON'T assume all assessment processes are the same:  Some use drill and practice and worksheets which can be unappealing to young children and in turn alter your results.


DO take into consideration how you want to report the assessment results: Does a report card work for your situation, or would a portfolio be best?  Do you plan on having conferences with parents? If so, how often?

DON'T leave parents in the dark: reporting to parents is huge.  Many parents are quite concerned with Kindergarten readiness.  Therefore, it is important for you to show them how ready their kiddo is!


There you have it!  I hope you can learn from some of the mis-planning that I did when I tired to get my assessments in order.  

If you'd like to learn more about assessments, I would love for you to sign up for my FREE COURSE: Create a Preschool Assessment Plan that Works!  You can sign up by clicking below:


 

 

Streamline Your Assessment Process

Sooo... you know that feeling when things aren't fitting together right? It is like a feeling of disorder and it brings an uneasy feeling... like you can't wrap your brain around how it all is supposed to connect.  Please tell me it isn't just me!

I remember the time at the beginning of the school year, last year, when I felt this feeling.  I struggled to map out how my assessment pieces would fit together.  Like, I knew I needed some sort of sheet to record data and I also knew I wanted to have student portfolios.  But, how they connected and the pieces that were missing were bring me that 'disorderly feeling'.  

Unfortunately for me, I drive myself completely crazy until I find a 'map' to the problem that makes sense for me.  So, last school year, at the beginning of the year, I was driving myself crazy!

But folks...I got it done and I feel so.much.better.

Want to go through the same process I did to get my assessments streamlined?

Let's go!

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SECTION 1: Your Goals and Standards: Learning Goals or your State's Standards are at the center of the assessment process.  These goals are what you are working towards helping your students learn by the end of the year.  These standards are the EXACT skills you should be assessing and reporting on.  

Think it Out: What Goals/Standards do you use? Do you use your State's Early Learning Standard?  Or do you use a set of goals given to you by your administration?

SECTION 2: Collecting and Recording Data: This is where you will take the Goals/Standards you are using and decide which skills you are going to collect data on.  In my state, the number of standards was a bit overwhelming, so I had to narrow them down to make my data collection realistic (here are the goals I use).  You will need to decide how you plan on collecting data for the goals that you have established. This is where you find out from students what they know in relation to the standards. Recording the data you have gained is the step that I was struggling with the most.  I knew I needed an all-inclusive list of the skills I was assessing for each student.  Finding the right one for me was what was giving me a problem.  Eventually, I had to create my own.

Think it Out:  Will you complete some whole class assessments? Will you do individual assessments?  Will you try to make your assessments as play-based as possible?  How will you record the data that you gained during your testing? Will you have individual student recording sheets?  Or, a class recording sheet?

SECTION 3: Using and Communicating Results: This last section (I feel) is the most important. Now that you have data on your students, it is time to use it!  Finding discrepancies of a certain skill in all or most of your students may mean that the skill needs to be brought to light again (and probably several more times) in whole group.  If you are finding just a couple of students struggling with a particular skill, it may mean that a small group time with those students, focusing on that skill, may be in order.  You may also find that one student is struggling with multiple skills.  Choosing one skill to focus on and working with that child one-on-one may be the best route.

The last step is to decide how you plan on communicating the results with parents and caregivers.  Our preschool uses portfolio-based reporting, so the decision was easy for me.  Perhaps you have a certain way to report to parents as well.  But if not, go through the 'think it out' questions below.

Think it Out: How do you plan on using the results from your assessments?  Will you use results to guide whole group instruction?  Will you create small groups or work with students one on one?  When do you plan on working with the groups?  How do you want to communicate results with parents?  Will you use a report card style info sheet?  Will you use portfolios to show progression?  Or will you just report to parents during a conference?

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Streamlining your assessment process is a lot to think about.  But, I hope this post has helped you get your thoughts in order for a successful year of using assessments to guide instruction!  

Observation Form for Preschool

You know how people say they have the memory of an elephant? Yea, that's not me. I think it is me, I wish it to be me- but when I face the hard facts my memory seems to be as bad as Dory's in Finding Nemo! So, I find myself making notes (shout-out to my best friend- the sticky note) all over the place. Can you feel me?

Well, that same "Oh, I'll remember that" attitude crosses over to the classroom. Guess what? I just saw my little preschooler Gabby take the sorting bears from the math center and sort them by color and size at the same time! Um, this noteworthy! This should go in her portfolio ASAP! Wait, who is upset? Oh, I'm sorry my friend Ben, but we don't knock down other friends' towers.

Yep, I got distracted (like I do 5,982 times a day) and I forgot all about that wonderful thing Gabby did earlier. I'm telling you what, a teacher's brain is pulled in so many different directions during the day, I truly wonder how I find my car at the end of the day!

So, this brings me to note-taking, just like I do all over my house. But, this time I am using it in the my classroom to take note of those note-worthy events. All I have to do is jot down the student's name, date, materials and what I saw. Then, I can later look back at how Gabby just showed me that she can sort by 2 attributes. Plus, I can put that little note in her portfolio. Done.

Need this form? It is all yours friend, click below:

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Need some help with your Preschool Assessments?  Check out my new course!

Developmental Milestones Checklist

Early Childhood Developmental Checklists for parents, preschool teachers and caregivers.
Early Childhood Developmental Checklists for parents, preschool teachers and caregivers.

Do you have a child in your care that you want to make sure is on track developmentally? Eight years ago, as a new parent I was always concerned if my first born was meeting all her milestones. 'Concerned' may be an understatement - I was borderline obsessed with making sure I was giving her the best start to life. I mean, I know how important those first years are and I was bound not to jack it up!

Lucky for me, I had just started a new position as a Parent Educator and was trained in helping parents provide experiences to help their children meet their developmental milestones. I had some really good tools in my toolbox, but even I felt the need to have a checklist --- there is something so gratifying about making a checkmark!!! Which experiences did I need to provide her with? How could I help her meet a milestone that she was struggling with? Well, first I had to see what she could do, then I would checkmark it with a highlighter.

Serious Sidenote: I do not feel that drilling children with a million questions, asking them to name objects on flashcards or demanding they sit and 'practice' skills is AT ALL appropriate. I could see what she knew just by observing, playing and talking with her.

After I knew what she knew, I could start providing her with the experiences/tools she needs. For example, if I want my child to feed herself with a spoon, then I have to provide the spoon and model how it is used. Without the spoon on the tray, she would never explore it and eventually learn to use it. If I want my child to be able to say 'more', I have to use the word over and over when the child wants more.

You may be thinking, this all seems common-sense like. It is, but being a caregiver is hard and tiring. Why not take some of the guess work out of it?! You can get this freebie by clicking the link below. There are checklist for ages 0-36 months.  Enjoy!

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