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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Assessment, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 64
1. Aim Higher: Some Tools For Mid Year Assessments

At the end of this week, the  second marking period will officially come to an end for many of us, and so will the first half of our school year.  This is the… Continue reading

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2. Using Assessment Tools to Teach Transference

Valuable lessons can be learned when an assessment tool designed for one genre is used to assess another.

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3. Conversations About Standards-Based Report Cards: Do Your Students Know How They’re Doing?

And with November, comes report cards.

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4. Slice of Life in the classroom: How to rubric and grade our project

Launching our yearlong Slice of Life writing challenge is an exhilarating experience for my sixth graders. None of them have done any type of digital writing, and the very idea of posting a… Read More

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5. An End of the Year Writing Check

At the end of the school year, we are often faced with pages and pages of student writing. Most of it may have gone home already, but now is a great time to… Continue reading

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6. Ending a Year of Teaching Writing with a Group Reflection

One thing I love so much about being an educator is the cyclical nature of the school year. The beginning of the year brings promise, renewed energy, and a certain mania. The middle… Continue reading

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7. Ending a Year of Teaching Writing with a Group Reflection

One thing I love so much about being an educator is the cyclical nature of the school year. The beginning of the year brings promise, renewed energy, and a certain mania. The middle… Continue reading

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8. What’s An On-Demand?

On-demand assessments allow us to check and see, rather than speculate, on what kids already know and can do. Then we can make well-informed choices about what to teach.

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9. October Means Fall Leaves, Halloween, and Summer Reading?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

We often think of autumn as a time with cooler weather, changing leaves, and upcoming holidays on the horizon.  This October our thoughts are not only on all the fun fall has to offer, but the opportunities the upcoming summer season can provide.  Our library staff is currently assessing our summer reading services and evaluating the reasons behind why we do what we do.  During this autumn, we will examine many of the logistical aspects of our summer reading plans to ensure we offer the very best program for children and their families.  What plans does your library have to alter your reading program once summer rolls around?

What’s In a Name?

For many years, our Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center in North Carolina has referred to our months of summer reading programming as our summer reading club, or more informally as SRC. During the summer, we offer many special programs and also have the opportunity for children to be read to or to read independently to receive prizes during the summer.   This year we are evaluating the name of our Summer Reading Club to see if it best suits our library’s mission and goals.  Should we consider these special events to be part of a larger summer reading program, or do we consider our summer reading extravaganza to be a club that our young members can join?  In some library systems, SRC refers to a summer reading challenge where library staff asks participants to take a more active role in setting their own reading goals. What name do you give to summer reading in your library system?

The Art of Measuring

Perhaps you measure the success of your program by the number of library visits a child makes over the summer or the overall circulation figures within your children’s department.  Maybe you encourage your young participants to read so many minutes or a certain number of books, or your library encourages children to set their own individual reading goal. In the past, we tracked how many hours children read as a marker of success as children received different prizes for reaching each predetermined goal set by library staff. We are now considering providing an option where participants can set their own reading goal after they finish our traditional reading program.  Additionally, we are examining the incorporation of an Every Child Ready to Read component where young children may participate in family activities with their parents or caregivers to enhance their summer reading experience. How do you plan to measure the success of your program this summer?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

A Plethora of Programming

Programming is essential to the value of our summer reading club.  In addition to our regularly scheduled story times, we offer various special programs and events to draw in large crowds during the summertime.  Some of these programs feature interactive art or science components while other events may feature special speakers, guest programmers, or costumed characters. This year we are discussing the idea of offering special mini-festivals at our various locations.  These festivals would incorporate some individual differences to distinguish the festivals from one another and to encourage customers to attend festivals at more than one location; this special programming would be tailored to meet the needs, interests, and resources available at our individual library branches. These festivals would also increase the opportunities staffers have to work with one another from our various branches.  Providing mini-festivals in addition to our regular programming could very well create a new opportunity for us to enhance our summer reading schedule.

We are still in the beginning steps of our summer reading plans for 2015.  There is so much value in assessing how we can maximize our summer reading experience for children and their families when June arrives. As we consider how we will name our summer reading events, measure our success, and examine some options for innovative programming, it is exciting to think of all the options ahead for an amazing summer reading experience. What new summer reading plans are you considering?  Sharing your thoughts may spark new practices or programs in other libraries.  Please add your ideas to the comments below!

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10. Tips for Evaluating Education Software

I'm currently writing the teacher’s manual for an upcoming textbook and one of the activities requires around 150 different equations. Yikes. That’s a lot of equations to write. Another activity needs about 100 short-computation problems on exponents. I thought to myself, “Sounds like a job for Mighty Computer.” So, I proceeded to write a short computer program to do all the hard work for me.

Now what does this have to do with evaluating education software (such as test generators)? Well, it turns out that in my first try I was using the computer as a crutch. I mistakenly assumed that the computer would somehow auto-magically churn out “good” problems.

For instance, take the simple task of creating problems that ask students to convert a percent to a decimal. Sounds easy, right? Churn out a bunch of random numbers, tack on a “%”, and voilà you are done. Unfortunately, if you want a good practice set, you need to make sure different types of percents are covered: percents greater than 100%, percents less than 1%, percents with a decimal point (ex: 24.5%), etc. Moreover, depending on the grade level, you may wish to skip some of these percent types. Hence, the first tip:
Tip #1. Think very hard about the types of problems you want (appropriate discriminating examples). Make sure the software can give you those problems.
The second tip is related to style. Consider these computer-generated equations testing one-step addition/subtraction over the integers:
  1. x + 2 = 10
  2. x – 3 = 12
  3. x – 7 = –5
  4. x + 16 = –12
  5. x + 10 = 2
  6. x – 5 = –7
  7. x + 12 = –16
Notice anything out of place? No? That’s the problem. While the questions themselves show a decent range of problem types, the equations themselves are all arranged the same. In all the equations, the variable side is on the left, the variable is in the same spot, and all use the same variable. But students need practice with different problem formats.
Tip #2. Make sure the software tests students on a sufficient range of problem formats.
To conclude, don’t make the false assumption that computer software automatically produces good material. As you do when you evaluate&nbs

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11. Direct Instruction, Part 4

What I hate about soccer are the low scoring games that often result in no "action" (as satirized by this classic Simpson's clip). The one thing I do like about soccer is that a World Cup really does involve the "world," unlike certain (ahem) other sports.

Imagine, however, a soccer team that drills all day long but never actually competes. Such a team would be like the North Korean soccer team who allowed 12 goals in a mere three games in the World Cup. (To put things in perspective, the winning team, Spain, scored a total of 8 points for all 7 games of the World Cup. Ouch.) At the other extreme, imagine a team that plays against other teams all the time but never actually practices as a team. That sounds a lot like England at the World Cup.

But what does all this have to do with Direct Instruction? Math is all about problem solving, and by "problem solving," I mean solving problems that require critical thinking. Of course, to solve problems, you need practice, practice, practice, and mastery of underlying content. A student who always drills (practices on straightforward problems) but never actually uses her critical thinking skills is like the team that always practices but never competes. At the other extreme, a student that always tries "challenging" problems but never actually drills is like the team that always competes but never practices. Neither is a successful learning strategy. A good teacher needs to find the right balance between the two for his classroom.

It is apparent, however, that blindly applying either Direct Instruction or its archnemesis—a discovery-orientated approach—can lead to both extremes. So, let's examine what works with Direct Instruction.

My favorite Direct Instruction strategy is the careful examination of pre-skills. For a gi

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12. Controversial Question in New York State Algebra 2 and Trigonometry Regents Exam

They say that there is no such thing as a stupid question. New York State mathematics teachers whose students took the Regents Exam in Algebra 2 and Trigonometry last month (June 2011) are likely to disagree. The test contained a controversial question that asked students to find the inverse of a non-invertible function. Here’s the problem in question:
The problem was in the 2-point, or short answer free response, portion of the exam, testing the learning standard that demands students “determine the inverse of a function and use composition to justify the result.” (A2.A.45) The wording of the question strongly implies that the inverse of the function does indeed exist. However, since the function given is not one-to-one, there is no inverse. Teachers got loud, complaining to representatives of the Board of Regents, the group that writes, edits, and distributes the exam. The Board responded with a memo called, “Scoring Clarification for Teachers,” which acknowledged several ways that students could interpret the question and demonstrate their understanding of invertibility of functions.

Was the response satisfactory? The Board's memo cites “variations in the use of [inverse] notation throughout New York State,” which seems to evade blame for a lousy question. A prominent math teacher blogger responded on his blog, “How could the test-makers not be aware of variations in notation? Also, notice how there is an asymmetric justification burden on a kid claiming (correctly) that the inverse does not exist.” A lousy question shakes the faith that teachers and students have in the standardized test as a valid assessment of student understanding. For instance, the same blogger concluded, “I have no confidence in New York State’s ability to create a good test of mathematics, at any level.”

It is my sincere hope that this controversy and the appearance of a misleading question will lead to both (a) more opportunities to explore the meaning of invertible functions and one-to-one functions, demanding students to be more savvy test-takers; and (b) increased scrutiny and more careful construction of New York’s Regents exams. In short, as educators, better instruction and better assessment should be our smart answer to this, or any, stupid question.

1 Comments on Controversial Question in New York State Algebra 2 and Trigonometry Regents Exam, last added: 7/12/2011
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13. Standardized Tests 2011

Here is a re-post of my blog from last year on standardized testing.  It begins next week at Sts. Peter & Paul School.  The Department of  Catholic Schools uses the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (IOWAs),  a norm referenced battery of  standardized tests, every fall in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.  According to IOWA test  publishers Riverside Publishersfall testing is more desirable than spring testing.

Two important uses of test scores are to check year-to-year progress and to determine areas of relative strength and weakness. To accomplish these purposes most effectively, test results must be available early enough in the school year so that teachers and administrators have a chance to incorporate this diagnostic information into their instructional decisions.
Diagnostic information . . . and remediation strategies can  be developed based on the information from fall testing. Used properly, these results offer a predictable glimpse of which students are most at risk of not meeting academic performance goals. . . (and) allows districts to effectively use test results in a collaborative way.
Longitudinal patterns can be used to focus professional development strategies or determine instructional areas that need additional resources.
So what can you do to achieve top performance?  In my 2009 blog,
Standardized Testing on the Horizon! (9/16/2009), these tips were shared:
  • Stay positive
  • Relax
  • Pace yourself
  • Review your answers
  • Enjoy a healthy snack and maintain a balanced diet
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Get some exercise

Good luck!

Graphic from open source images englishtutors.languagespirit.com

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14. Goal Setting for Reading Success, Part 3

Empowerment Post-Assessment

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In this series for teachers, educators, and literacy coaches, Jaclyn discusses different strategies for ensuring students hit end-of-year benchmarks in reading.

Two weeks ago, I shared with you some resources to use when determining a reading goal for each student, and last week I talked about how to motivate students about their reading goal and about how to Girl Reading, from Destiny's Giftschedule out regular assessment.  Today, I want to get into the nuts and bolts of the running record assessment time, and how to create a post-assessment conference that really empowers students.

The first part of my assessment time with each individual student is the assessment itself.  Once I’ve determined the student’s independent reading level (each assessment program differs in terms of what a student needs to score to be considered independent), I take out a secondary assessment kit and read with the student on their instructional level to determine each student’s “Magic Three.”  The “Magic Three” are the three reading comprehension skills and strategies I’m going to send that student off with to focus on during their independent reading time between now and the next assessment.

When reading with a student on their instructional reading level, I consider the following:

“The word reading has two senses, often confusingly lumped together.  The first means the process of turning printed marks into sounds and these sounds into words.  But the second sense means the very different process of understanding those words.  Learning how to read in the first sense—decoding through phonics—does not guarantee learning how to read in the second sense—comprehending the meaning of what is read…[c]hildren who lag in comprehension in early grades tend to fall even further behind in later years.”

E.D. Hirsch, Jr. The Knowledge Deficit

Different running record assessment systems have different accuracy benchmarks, but when I do running record with a student, only a small percentage of what I’m looking for has to do with decoding.  On the whole, I’ve found students can decode at a far higher level than they can comprehend, so this usually isn’t a factor when dealing with a student’s instructional level.  What I look for is: a) do they comprehend the story on a BASIC level? and b) how much of the story were they able to EXTEND to comprehend on a deeper level?  Most students, when they’re reading at their instructional level, may have a few minor problems with the basic comprehension, but really tend to st

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15. On-Demand Performance Assessments & the Norming Meeting

I've administered and reviewed many on-demand pieces of writing. However, I've never engaged in a norming meeting until two weeks ago. Learn more about the ways in which we can work with our colleagues to assess on-demand assessments so they can drive our instruction.

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16. On-Demand Performance Assessments & the Norming Meeting

I've administered and reviewed many on-demand pieces of writing. However, I've never engaged in a norming meeting until two weeks ago. Learn more about the ways in which we can work with our colleagues to assess on-demand assessments so they can drive our instruction.

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17. Primary Teachers: I need your advice, please!

How much time do you think K-2 students need to complete an on-demand narrative writing assessment?

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18. Slow and Steady

Nicole Frederickson, a middle school teacher, doesn't believe in diagnostic writing assessments at the beginning of the school year. Find out why she builds a community of writers before she assesses her students.

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19. Slow and Steady

Nicole Frederickson, a middle school teacher, doesn't believe in diagnostic writing assessments at the beginning of the school year. Find out why she builds a community of writers before she assesses her students.

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20. Scoring On-Demand Assessments

Nothing truly teaches you like rolling up your sleeves and doing something. I came away with five realizations as a result from scoring K - 8 narrative on-demand assessments by myself.

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21. Slice of Life in the classroom: How to rubric and grade our project

Launching our yearlong Slice of Life writing challenge is an exhilarating experience for my sixth graders. None of them have done any type of digital writing, and the very idea of posting a… Read More

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22. Rubric Creation for “This I Believe” Essays

I was at the computer this morning when my students created a pretty basic rubric for their final unit of study’s essays. The following is what they created. They’ll use it to self-assess their essays and I’ll use it to give them their final grade of the school year. [...]

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23. Dollars & Sense #25: Teen Services = Good Investment

Yesterday Beth Gallaway wrote about Return on Investment (ROI) and how to make sure to get a good bang for your buck. Beth’s specific focus was on how gaming provides great opportunities to demonstrate ROI.

Continuing on the theme of ROI, how do you:

  • Make sure that administrators, community members, foundations, grant makers, etc. understand the value of all aspects of the job that you do?
  • Demonstrate that the full scope of services for teens is an invaluable part of what the library offers?
  • Guarantee that those who have the bucks will make sure that you have dollars that you need when you need them?

In order to prove that the money spent in teen services is a good investment, it’s important to have data and stories that you can present to others. How do you do that? Focus groups, circulation statistics, door counts, and surveys are traditional methods libraries use. But, in the web 2.0/social networking world, there are several other techniques to employ in order to find out what other’s have to say about your services and their value:

  • Save searches in Twitter and use services like Google Alerts to keep track of any time the library (and specifically teen services) is mentioned online. These web-based tools give you the opportunity to “hear” what others are saying about what you do, without you even asking for feedback. You can find out what might be improved, and discover the good things others are saying about you. You can collect the online mentions and over time weave them into a story that you tell about the quality and responsiveness of services provided.
  • Use a service like Poll Everywhere to get real-time feedback from teens attending events, programs, or meetings at the library. As the activity is going on teens can let you know via SMS what they are thinking.
  • Ask for feedback via your library’s blog. After you’ve started a new service at the library, post on the blog about the service and ask teens to let you know what they think about it. In their comments give teens the chance to tell their stories about the value of the service in their own lives.
  • Google Forms is a quick and easy way to create online polls that you can embed on your web site or blog. With Google Forms you could easily sponsor a weekly poll that asks teens to tell you about what they need from the library’s teen services, and let you know all the ways you are serving them successfully.

One of the useful features of Google Forms is that the information entered into a poll or survey is automatically added to a spreadsheet. The data collected is also made available via that spreadsheet in visual form. In other words, Google Forms provides you with charts and graphs instantaneously so that you have visualizations of the information provided by teens.

In order to demonstrate ROI it’s important to regularly let others know that you are doing a good job. Data visualizations (such as those provided by Google Forms) are a good way to get that information out to others. To create visualizations of the data you collect you can also use a service like Many Eyes, from IBM. With this service you can upload

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24. The Doors of Poetry: Guest Blog Post by Sarah Mulhern

Our first Guest Blog Post of the summer is written by Sarah Mulhern, who is a sixth grade teacher in New Jersey.  Sarah blogs at The Reading Zone. When Stacey first asked me to write a guest blog for Two Writing Teachers I immediately accepted.   Then I realized I would have to think of something [...]

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25. Using Math Errors to Enhance Math Understanding

Mathematics instructors always show examples of correct work to illustrate mathematical ideas and how to use those ideas to solve problems. Ideally, students will generalize the relationships among elements of several problems and be able to handle anything similar. In this way, learning math has always been an imitative process. Because math students are trained by years of imitating teacher and textbook examples, some teachers hesitate to show students examples of incorrect work. However, showing students work produced by faulty logic and incorrectly applied algorithms can provide valuable opportunities to develop deep understanding of mathematical ideas.
Should you be worried, as a math teacher, that students will see incorrect work and later imitate the mistake? Will showing students something wrong only confuse them? Math educator Marilyn Burns writes, “Confusion is part of the process….The classroom culture should reinforce the belief that errors are opportunities for learning and should support children taking risks without fear of failure or embarrassment.” She suggests not only that seeing mistakes can build confidence, but also that there is opportunity for students to grow meaningfully in math understanding by analysis of such mistakes.

“The most powerful learning experiences often result from making mistakes,” says Deb Russell, a mathematics educator and consultant. She claims that introducing work with errors to students encourages them to consider why a method works, as opposed to stopping as soon as they see how the method works, deepening conceptual understanding as they develop computational and algorithmic fluency.
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