Reading Part 1 Fall 2015

LE 4: Assessment & Evaluation

A & E Q & A

Sumaira responded to Hannah's question:

What are some ways to provide quality descriptive feedback to your students?

One of the strategies I find very effective when I am providing feedback to my students is the “A Wish and A Star” strategy. When students complete a formative task, I give them detailed feedback on what they are doing really well (star) and what they need to do to improve (wish). For example during journal writing, the students will show me their best journal, I will provide a wish and star for them, and tell them to apply the feedback in their next journal. I then check again to see if they are incorporating the feedback I have provided. Another way to provide quality feedback is to assess students with rubrics that are written in student friendly language. I try to make my expectations clear and put the word “I” in my rubrics, so the student can also assess themselves. Along with each expectation, instead of levels I will put colours (green, yellow, red) or the outcome observed “I am moving along well/not so well/having difficulty), and the descriptive feedback comes from the plan for improvement that I write on my own, or sometimes conference with the student a come up with an action plan together.

Jess responded to Serree's question:

What are the benefits of a rubric? Do you find it more or less beneficial if you co-create the rubric with your students?

There are many benefits of a rubric when co-created with your students. Before I start my units I always have my students complete an I Wonder... statement (e.g. I wonder if rocks are living things?), which I use to guide their learning throughout the unit. As well, I want my students to understand what our end goal is, so we create a guiding question from the curriculum. I photocopy a section of the curriculum document (e.g. rocks and minerals from grade 4) and give it to my students. I ask them to dissect it, highlight words they don’t understand, and put it into kid friendly language. This way, we all have a clear understanding of our end goal, and how we get there is a little different for each student. From here, I develop or adjust the culminating assignment, and co-create the rubric. I find that discussing with my students about what they think is a level three, or a baseline mark is very interesting and by the end of the year students have a deeper perception of what a good quality assignment looks like instead of saying you need at least 3 sentences for a level 3. Overall, I find that co-creating assessment with your students allows them to develop metacognition as well as an idea of quality over quantity.

Jenn responded to Melissa's question:

What is a culminating task? What are some ways we can incorporate student choice into these tasks to ensure student motivation?

A culminating task is a part of a summative assessment. It is an activity completed at the end of a unit but is introduced during the learning so that students can begin thinking about the task as they learn. Similarly, if student choice is going to be incorporated in your culminating task, it should be also utilized during the unit. That way, when it comes time to choose a way to go about the culminating task, they have some background knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses in that field of study. Thus you can tap into their self-efficacy and use it as a motivation tool. Students who have completed similar tasks will feel confident in their ability to complete the final task. Hopefully students consider their strengths, weaknesses and interests when deciding on their culminating task. Oftentimes however, I feel like students just choose the option they feel is the easiest. Incorporating student choice doesn’t have to be daunting like you have to mark completely different assignments using separate assessment tools. It can be as simple as providing 3 different books to assess a student on a retell or identifying the story elements.

Reading Conference Ideas You Want to Try Out:

  • I really like the idea of writing on a sticky note “TP (Teaching Point) today I want you to work on …” and then try it. This holds the teacher and the student accountable and focused. This is also a great way to model for student’s goal setting. (Gillian)
  • Besides running records for DRA, I have never used reading conferences before. I can see how beneficial they would be for the students, especially because it’s not easy incorporating one-on-one time. During Daily 5 I could incorporate a schedule where every few days I schedule a reading conference with a couple of students. This would give me a better picture of how their independent reading is progressing. (Cassandra)
  • The article states that student initiated conferences are an important way to have students take ownership over their reading. I have never incorporated this into my reading program, only teacher initiated conferences, and I can see the major benefits from students identifying that they need help to pick a best fit book, or that they are proud of their reading and want you to hear them read. I want to make sure I incorporate this into my practice immediately to ensure I am providing students ample opportunities for my students to take ownership over their reading. (Jess)
  • Five Finger Test (Erica and Pearl)

  • I want to try the idea where I take down my “Choosing the Just Right Book” anchor chart and ask my students to remind me how to choose the just right book. It would be a great way to ensure that my students are picking their ‘just right books’ during independent reading time. I need to provide students with more time to share (e.g., their connections to books read after independent reading). (Quynh)

  • The idea that stuck out to me a lot is creating a comfortable environment where students feel relaxed and willing to read at ease. It talked about the teachers' desk being intimidating for students. Perhaps, having a 'conferencing corner' in the room set up with carpets and pillows would be a fun and relaxing place for a student to enjoy their time conferencing with the teacher. (Hannah)

  • The important idea I found was to structure reading conferences in a more inviting manner. A couple of ways to accomplish this is to meet the student at their own desk and to have the student choose their own book to read to you. Benchmark running records can provide a wealth of information, but the student often has no connection to the text. By allowing the student to be at their desk and to choose their own material for reading you are creating an environment that lends itself to success. (Darrell)

  • Impromptu reading discussions - introducing students to questioning, critical thinking and retelling, recounts and helps them pull apart each concept - and you can assess at the same time! Definitely want to try this with just an ordinary read-aloud with my kindergarteners, and see how far we get! (Heather)

  • I liked the point made about not just counting errors from one session with a child, but rather analyzing the data. It is important to not only look at your daily records but to go further and look for patterns. This will give you a more accurate sense of how students are progressing in their reading. (Harp)

  • I love the Goldilocks Rule for choosing “just right” books. I would love to introduce this to my students, post it as a reminder and encourage my students to use it. (Serree)

  • I gained a lot of information by exploring these two resources! The website by Jennifer Myers with video examples really allowed me to assess my own reading program and see what changes I can make to mine for improvement. I realized that I do not allow my students enough time to share what they are reading during independent reading. Students love to share and talk about their reading and I need to do it more in my classroom. I would like to start more dialogues and ask the students for more feedback regarding reading strategies and skills they are working on during independent reading. (Sumaira)

  • I want to try student initiated/impromptu conferencing using the idea of a conferencing corner (by creating a fun and comfortable conferencing space, for example, using bean bag chairs etc.). Using this conferencing corner, any time students see that I am sitting in the conferencing corner and conferencing with no other students at the time, they are allowed to come by themselves or with a partner to conference with me. I am hoping that this encourages students to take ownership for their reading/learning, but also helps them know when it is a good time to initiate a conference. (Melissa)

  • Write potential teaching points on sticky notes while conferencing with students., as both student and teacher will know what the expectation is. Example given in “Living the Life of a Reader and Writer.” By Jennifer Meyers: “TP: today I want you to work on…” (Fatih)

  • Conference time is not to be interrupted. A visual STOP reminder should be worn or displayed in the classroom during conferences, running records and guided reading sessions. (Jenn)

  • I would make more time for individual conferencing where each student will have time to track their progress, make goals and talk about next steps. I think it is important in building confidence in their reading and for assisting students in becoming independent readers. (Beth)

  • The environment is huge and it's something I'm not providing a perfect one of. I have a guided reading table at the front of my room, so I often call students up when the rest of the class is reading to conference, but I should be going to them. (Allison)

  • I would like to revamp the structure of my reading conferences so that they fit into my reading program as nicely as they do for Jennifer Myers! The flow of her reading block is quite effective: read aloud with mini lesson, one-on-one reading conferences while the other students read independently (working on today’s focus), guided reading while rest of class reads independently (working on today’s focus), and finally a time for sharing at the end of the reading block. (Jessie)

Resources You Shared

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From Quynh

One way that I like to try ensure that my students are using the feedback that I give them is to create a "Keys to Success" key chain for each student. During a student-teacher conference when I am giving my student descriptive feedback I also like to choose a goal (for reading) with them as well. For example, for reading fluency a goal might be: When I am reading I will make sure that I stop at the punctuation marks and pause before reading the next sentence. The goal is written on a key (see picture). Each time a goal is created a new key is made and added to the ring. Students will then have a collection of goals on a ring to remind them of how to improve their reading skills. A sticker/stamp can be added to the key each time the goal has been met. A new goal can be determined after 3 stickers have been received.

My students have written narratives are are using the TAG process to provide feedback to their peers. We created an anchor chart of examples of descriptive feedback and are practising how to give it. The TAG process stands for:

T - Tell something positive about their work (star)

A - Ask a question about something you didn't understand or what you want to know more about

G - Give descriptive feedback that can be used for improvement (wish)

It requires a lot of practise to give descriptive feedback but my students are slowly getting the idea.

from Serree. . .

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How do you encourage and motivate students' interests in learning and their belief that they can learn?

I LOVE this point but I think about some students that I have taught in the past who have had a "I can't do it" attitude.

How can we change their belief/attitude to something more positive?


also from Serree. . .

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from Beth. . .

Course Resources

Some of your summative tasks

With permission, I shared some of the summative tasks from this LE. It's always helpful to see what other teachers are doing with respect to assessment and evaluation.
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A few other resources