Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Assessment: 3 Ways to Informally Assess Students

I am excited to be linking up for week two of the "Back to School" linky hosted by Mrs. D's Corner and Mrs. V's Busy Bees!  Each week they will be choosing a new topic to help teachers get ready to go back to school.  It is a ten week linky and we are only on week two so get ready for many more topics!  

Today, it is all about assessment!   

Assessment is a crucial part of our instruction.  Assessment allows us to best meet individual student needs whether that is challenging him/her because he already understands or giving him extra support because he is not grasping the concept    When properly used in a classroom setting, assessment allows teachers to make better use of their time with each child.  

First and foremost let's answer this question...

In my Guided Math: a Framework for Mathematics Instruction by Laney Sammons, I read about Fountas and Pinnell's (1996) list of reasons to assess students...
        *Continuously inform instruction and teaching decisions
        *Find out what students can do, both independently and with teacher support
        *Document progress for parents and students
        *Summarize achievement and learning over a given period-six weeks, a year or longer

Again, the list above is not mine but all of the reasons given above help me to realize the significance behind assessment.  At some point, I think, assessment got lumped in with "tests" and "scores."  Test and scores are certainly a part of assessment; however, assessment is so much more and can truly help transform your teaching to help children succeed.  

Informal assessment is something that I use on a throughout the school day.  The informal assessments listed below are not only a tool for me but students enjoy them as well since they often get to be up walking around and often times, working with peers!

Four Corners:
How it works: Label each corner "a, b, c, and d."  Ask questions that align with your common core standard.  Allow students time to think about their answer and choose a corner.  When students go to the corner have them pair up with a shoulder partner to explain their reasoning.  Although students will sometimes (often follow) their peers to a certain corner I don't mind.  I am able to gauge from their explanations if their level of understanding of the question.  

How it works: Let's pretend we are working on fact families.  I might give students a problem and have them solve.  While they are solving I will walk around the classroom and jot down my notes.  If kids finish early they know that they can show me another fact family to display their knowledge.  

Find Someone Who:
How it works: Students walk around the room with their paper.   They are looking to find other students who know the answers to the questions.  Children will walk around the room with one hand raised high in the air and  "high-five" another child when they find a partner. To learn more about Find Someone Who...please click here.  

I have used all of the above activities as both pre and post-assessments for students throughout the school year. This isn't the only way I assess students but I do use them throughout the year to check for understanding.  There is much less pressure for kids and students enjoy doing them which allows me to truly see what each child knows.  

In order to make these activities meaningful and useful as a classroom teacher,  it is important that you are tracking students in one way or another.  Whatever you ordinarily use to keep track of student progress works here too!  I used to use notebook-I had a notebook dedicated to math and each child had a page.  I also had a "Random Notes" page.  

If am using one of these activities pretest for  common core standard 1.NBT.A.1 I would get students started then walk around with my notebook listening and checking for student understanding.  In an attempt to be more organized and to track data a little better this year I will be implementing checklists! Whether you use a notebook or a checklist, doesn't matter it is whatever works for you... as long as your are documenting!  If I don't write it down as kids are doing these activities by the end of the day, if you are anything like me, when you go to think about the next lesson or organize your guided math will completely forget because a million and one things happened since!  But if you have your notes jotted down in a notebook or in a binder you are set and ready to go!    

I should mention too that depending on the day, skill, and/or activity I might be watching my whole class or I might be watching a couple of specific kids.  It just depends!  

Here is a freebie to get you started with "Find Someone Who!"  Click here to grab your copy! 

A big thank you again to Mrs. D's Corner and Mrs. V's Busy Bees for hosting this fabulous linky!  I can't wait to go and ready other teacher's tips and tricks on assessment!  

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tune into Technology: iPads

We have been getting such great new ideas from other bloggers linking up, so we are excited to be back again this week chatting all about iPads.  Please link up any ideas at all that you have for using one iPad or a bunch of iPads in your classroom! You can link up here or over at the amazing iTeach1:1-- it all ends up in the same spot.

Thanks to Megan Favre and Ashley Hughes for the fun graphics!

Week 3:

Thanks to Graphics From the Pond and Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs for the graphics!

Well first let's just say that the options with one iPad (or 1 per student) are endless! From classroom management to content-rich lessons, you could easily try one new thing a day and probably love nearly everything you do! Since there are SO many things to do with iPads and since we have already posted about how we use them in Literacy and Math, today we are going to focus more on how iPads can be used as a teacher tool for classroom management.

I recently blogged about two free apps that make picking who is first much easier. Tap Roulette and iLeap Pick a Student are great apps that will help make choosing your students go a lot quicker and hopefully have less whining when they aren't chosen! They can easily be used for small group work or whole class when you are trying to choose a student. Check out more about these apps here.

And I know, I know...I talk about this WAY too often on here, but, seriously, if you have yet to try Evernote out, trust me, you need to use it! :) 

So, really, here it is- Evernote helps me with my classroom management because it keeps me organized. I'm always ready to share information with other teachers, parents and my little friends, themselves, because I have all my notes about each little friend in one spot, on Evernote. I can easily pull up Evernote on my iPad and show other teachers during student meetings the progress they have made through pictures, voice recordings or notes I've taken during our guided reading time. To me, it's the same as taking notes in a notebook, but now it's all digital and you have the added benefit of pictures of student work, recordings of student work AND it's all right there together in one long note.  I simply date each entry and just add a little each week/day/however often I feel it is necessary, based on the abilities/needs of the student. You can read more about how I use it in my classroom here and even check out the step by step tutorial I made for setting it all up here

If you work in a primary classroom, you know that transitions can get a little noisy!  My hope is by the time the kids get a little older they won't need this...but I could be wrong maybe kids of all ages have a hard time with transitions?!

This free app is called Too Noisy! Too Noisy works wonders!  This app helps students to be able to see when it is getting, yes, you guessed it..."too noisy!"  

When the students are quiet the smiley face stays smiling and the red stick is pointing to the green part.  

 When it starts getting louder in the classroom the red stick points at the yellow, the sky goes yellow and the smiley guy now has a frown on his face!

When it gets real loud in your classroom the red stick points to the red, the sky goes black and the little smiley guy plugs his ears and gets tears in his eyes!

I sometimes will put this app on display during work time but mostly during transitions.  The students think it is a game to keep the smiley man happy and so they do tip-toe around much quieter than normal to try to keep this little guy smiling!  

Alright, alright...if you have been following Aylin and I you know some of our favorites we mention these things as often as possible because truly they have made a big difference in our classroom!  With that being said, I can't help but to throw Class Dojo into our list of favorite classroom management apps!  

Class Dojo can be put on as many devices needed which makes it incredibly easy to use throughout the day!  I have it on my phone and a couple of our classroom iPads so it is easy to grab at and give kids points at any time during the day.  Even if we are walking in the hallway to a special I can bring my phone or a classroom iPad to give students points!

If you missed my Class Dojo post you can click here to learn more about getting started with Class Dojo or here to learn the reasons why you must give it a try this year!  

We can't wait to hear more about how others are using iPads in their classrooms!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guided Math: Assessment in Guided Math

This week we continue to celebrate all of YOU!  Aylin and I feel so incredibly happy to have started this journey.  Blogging and connecting with so many wonderful teachers has been an amazing experience that we have both grown tremendously from.   Our fabulous follower giveaway is still going if you have not joined click here or on the button below for your chance to enter and win! We will be announcing our winners this Sunday, July 20th!

It is hard to believe there are only two chapters left in the Guided Math Book Study with The Primary Gal! Today we dive a bit further into assessment.  

Why is assessment essential in a guided math classroom?  What role does it play in teaching and in learning?

Effective assessment is crucial in a guided math classroom because it allows you to best meet the needs of each of your students.  Knowing and understanding each child's mathematical knowledge is so that teachers are utilizing their time with their small guided groups.  Assessing also allows us as teachers continually make informed teaching decisions-spending our time working with children on concepts and skills that need strengthening.  Assessment also allows teachers to see how well children understand the curriculum, if they are ready to move on and how a class did as a whole.  Through assessment teachers get to see what students might need more of before moving on to the next concept. 

Assessment drives my instruction.  Assessment is what allows me to keep my group fluid and ever changing so that I am best meeting each student's needs.  It is important for me to remember that it is important for me to assess what students can do with guided help as well as what they are capable of independently.  

What kinds of assessment do you use in your classroom?  Is there a blend of assessments and evaluations?

There are many forms of assessments and evaluations that I use in my classroom.  Formative assessment is one of the types of assessments I use in my classroom.  Formative assessment allows me to continuously gather information so that my instruction can best meet each child's individual needs.  Formative assessment helps to drive my instructional choices for each guided math group.  also  I use checklists to help me see in one spot if children have mastered or are continuing to work on specific common core standards.  Feedback is also an important part of my mathematics assessment.  It is important for students to understand what they are doing well at and what needs improvements.  It is with this feedback that students can adjust what they are doing.  Feedback should be given during and after the lesson, it should be easily understood by the child and is directly related to their learning.  

I would like to this year get more into using rubrics.  Laney Sammons suggest that teachers use Rubrics to see "precise levels of quality for each criterion." I can certainly see rubrics being beneficial in my classroom for myself as for when I discuss student growth as with parents and administration. 

Happy Thursday!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Behavior Management Tips and Tricks with Class Dojo

I am incredibly excited to be linking up for a "Back to School" Weekly Linky hosted by Mrs. D's Corner and Mrs. V's Busy Bees!  Each week they will be choosing a new topic to help teachers get ready to go back to school!  It is a ten week linky so get ready for some great topics!  

Today, it is all about Behavior Management

My favorite behavior management system that I have used in my classroom thus far is Class Dojo.  If you are NEW to ClassDojo please click HERE first to see how to learn the ins and outs of this management system.  

If you have heard about it and are thinking about taking the plunge, let me tell you why I believe this system has been incredibly successful in my classroom.

Students are highly motivated by both their avatars as well as by the points they receive.  Student get to hear a positive "ding" each time a point is given.  In my classroom, we set goals to help students stay motivated.  Kids love seeing their point bubbles raise!  

Teachers are easily able to track student data.  This is especially helpful at parent teacher conferences.   This past year when talking about behaviors of students (good or bad) I was able to pull up Class Dojo at the conference to show parents exactly when their child was struggling throughout the school day.  We were also able to notice trends and look at the data as a team to come up with a plan.  Class Dojo tracks all the data for you which is extremely helpful!  With Class Dojo, I  never have to spend my time creating a data graph for children instead I simply log-in, click on the child's name and it's all there for me!

The parent involvement with Class Dojo is phenomenal.  Parent involvement is something that, as a school, we struggle with. However, I was able to get to 26 out of my 28 parents connected...pretty impressive if you ask me!  In the past, I used to send home notes with students who ended their day on "yellow" or "red" sometimes I would wonder if the parent saw the note because it didn't come back signed like I had asked for it to be.  With Class Dojo I can see exactly when the parent last logged in and I can even leave them a note or message them directly through Class Dojo!  Getting parents involved is quick and easy plus there no more wondering if parents saw the strengths and struggles of their child's day!

26 out of my 28 Parents Signed up for Class Dojo and received weekly emails directly to their mobile device every Friday! They also logged in throughout the week to check in on student behavior. 

This child had 2 parents connected to Class Dojo.  One of the parents last logged in on July 7th even though our last day was June 4th!  Glad to know they are still checking! :)
Much like many other elementary schools our children go to specials each day of the week.  At our school, students go to gym, music, science, art, library, etc.  That is a lot of classrooms and a lot of different teachers!  I was able to share my Class Dojo information with other teachers so that the they too could use Class Dojo on their mobile devices. This created consistency amongst the teachers and also let me know if a child was misbehaving while not in my classroom.  Trust me...your students will be super surprised when they find out you knew that they were running with scissors in art.... and will be so mortified that you found out BEFORE even talking to the teacher that they won't try that again!  I also leave my information for substitute teachers.  When I am out of the building I can still get updates on how my children are doing throughout the school day by logging into Class Dojo! Warning: this can be a great thing but can also add stress to your day off! :) 

Class Dojo makes it incredibly easy for each teacher to customize their Class Dojo experience.  Every classroom is different and Class Dojo understands. With a few simple clicks you can customize Class Dojo to meet your student and classroom needs.  

You can decide if how you want your Class Dojo screen to appear for kids.
You can choose the "positive" and "needs work" behaviors for your classroom.  
Are you convinced?  It is definitely worth the me!  To help you get started grab the freebie below!  

I have created a bunch of different Class Dojo helpers and tools (as both pdfs and editable products) to make implementing this behavior management system into your classroom a breeze!  Click HERE  to take a closer look!

There is still time to enter our giveaway!  Click here or on the button below to see the fabulous prizes and how you can enter to win.

A big thank you again to Mrs. D's Corner and Mrs. V's Busy Bees for hosting this fabulous linky!  I can't wait to go and ready other teacher's tips and tricks for behavior management!  

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tune Into Technology: Integrating Technology Into Math

We are officially on Week #2 of our "Tune into Technology" Linky Party.  If you missed the first week click here to see lots ideas on how you can incorporate technology into reading.  Please link up here or on Kristin's blog for any tech ideas you have that fits our theme of the week-- we can't wait to read your ideas- we were so happy with all the new ideas from this linky last year!

Thanks to Megan Favre and Ashley Hughes for the fun graphics!
Thanks to Graphics From the Pond and Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs for the graphics!

One of my favorite quick informal assessment to use with my students is Today's Meet.  Today's Meet gives all students the opportunity to share what they learned in a private chat room.  After introducing a new concept, I like to have students share their learning on this website with their peers.  It is incredibly motivating, even to six year olds, when your peers view your work.  Todays Meet allows all children to share and read other's view on new mathematical concepts.  To read more about how I incorporate Today's Meet into my first grade classroom click here!

We use our laptops every day in math centers.  We have access to paid programs including IXL and Success Maker.  Both programs allow teachers to log-in and see the amount of time students have spent on the websites as well as gives many graphs telling me individual and class strengths and struggles.  We also use Xtra Math and Sumdog which are free programs that give teachers access to seeing student progress. 

Another free favorite of mine to use is Shepard's Software.  This program has a lot of skills for students to practice in a fun and engaging way.  Students will practice these skills on the computer as well as on the SmartBoard! 

Student typically get a handful of choices depending on the skill we are working on.  They get to play the games with a partner and they enjoy getting to use the interactive whiteboard and getting to work with partners at this center.  

As you can see I used a lot of websites in my classroom.  There are a lot of ways out there to organize your websites but I have found Draggo works best for me!  To see how I use Draggo to organize my math websites click here!

We are continuing to celebrate our fabulous followers all week with our giveaway!  Click here or on the button below to go to our original post about our giveaway and for your chance to win one of 3 fabulous prizes!

Make sure to enter and visit our blog each day for new ways to earn points.  We are announcing our 3 Winners on Sunday!  

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