Reflection: Unit Planning Initial Informal Assessments - Section 3: Analysis of Student Work


I give mini-assessments, either formal or informal, at the start of units of study and also to assess sub-skills so I do not give a comprehensive pre-test at the start of the year.  In my school district we give benchmark tests every quarter that already do this for us, to an extent at least.

The assessments I give during the first week of school are geared towards basic skills and determining if there are any fundamental gaps in 1st and 2nd grade concepts such as counting by odd and even numbers, tens, and fives.  Asking students to write ten equations to equal a certain number is also a good start of the year snapshot because it lets me gauge the ability to which they can manipulate operations, complete multiple-step equations and it also demonstrates either their ability or their willingness to tackle more difficult facts.  (Using numbers with 1-4 or 6-9 in the ones place as opposed to only zeros or fives, for example).

There are always students with gaps, for myriad reasons.  In planning how to teach my units, I need to have a plan in place for how I'm going to differentiate for students who are missing basic skills and also how I'm going to differentiate for students that are ahead of the plan.  (An example of ahead would be, for example, the two children who came into 3rd grade already in possession of some fundamental understandings about fractions).

I am constantly assessing and reassessing to determine how to fill gaps, differentiate, accelerate, and reinforce learning.  This doesn't have to be a complicated process and it doesn't have to take place within fancy computer programs or on worksheets with an official or cute format.  The information is the same!  I hope that these simple examples of assessments will encourage you in making it a more intuitive and less rigid part of your practice.  It took time before I realized that these types of assessments are every bit as good as those that look official and are printed up or, now, online.

  Initial Assessments
  Unit Planning: Initial Assessments
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Initial Informal Assessments

Unit 1: 1st Week: Getting to Know Each Other Through Graphs
Lesson 6 of 6

Objective: SWBAT familiarize themselves with the idea that teachers are always assessing them and readjusting, and that this information helps us be better teachers!

Big Idea: Get to know your students' learning personalities as you observe them on this informal assessment.

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