Resources for a First Year SST

As a first year SST, I found myself wondering “what resources do I need to be a successful teacher and support?” These are the resources that have helped me get through the first few months (right after some awesome colleages and kids!):

Reading:

FAIR – researched based phonics activities/games. Great to cut-out, laminate, and file so they are easily accessible. So far I have utilized letter recognition/sounds and rhyme games with great success and engagement from the kids! Note: K level actually translated to Grade 1 in many cases (adapt/gage for your children as necessary).

Letterland – kids love the actions and really retain it. Videos on Youtube, as well as, the Sotrybook are great tools for basic classroom teaching and interventions.

This always helps too:

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#halloween #awesomestaff #teacherlife

Measured Mom – everything early literacy (and math!). Great, engaging activities to get student engaged during small-group instruction. It is a good idea to cut-out, laminate, and file some of these supports so they are easily accessible. I also made kids their own individual books and while they worked on those we played some games one-on-one. The kids loved it!

Raz-Kids – for levelled books for guided reading (totally worth it to get an account!)

Reading Assessments: 

Concepts of Print by Marie M. Clay – for basic/initial reading assessments

Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking Kit 

Orchestrating Success in Reading by Dawn Reithaug – assessing the 5 main components of reading (great for LIT goals)

Reading Power by Adrienne Gear – great for LIT goals and reading instruciton

Autism:

Circles Curriculum – teaches social boundaries/relationships

Getting Unstuck – how to problem solve

Whole Body Listening – great tool for whole-class listening (pair with both positive reinforcement, such as a marble jar, and negative reinforcement, such as name with checks on board, and you will be set!)

Zones of Regulation – great for emotional thinking and tracking (self-monitoring)

Motivation:

A Love Letter to First-Year Teachers from We Are Teachers

And whatever you do, don’t forget to ask questions.. lots of them!

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Creating Coherent Formative and Summative Assessment Practices

Lorrie A. Shepard’s article “Creating Coherent Formative and Summative Assessment Practices” outlines formative assessment practices that are more effective than exams. When students are faced with exams, or one time to shine, they are more worried “about what will be on the test rather than thinking about learning” (Shepard, 2006, p. 41). Grades, which are extrinsic rewards, “can reduce intrinsic motivation” (Shepard, 2006, p. 42). Thus, we need to create a learning culture instead of a grading culture, where students guide instruction and make connections to their interests and prior knowledge (Shepard, 2006, p. 41). Shepard suggests that teachers use pre-assessment, such as KWL charts, provide feedback that relates to the outcomes, allow students to self-assess, and plan with the end goal in mind (2006, p. 42-4). Furthermore, students need time to make changes based on feedback and apply knowledge to new skills and understandings (transfer knowledge) (Shepard, 2006, p. 44).

Shepard (2006) suggested that “replacement assignments and replacement tests or throwing out test scores when learning is verified in later assignments,” allows students to be evaluated fairly (p. 44). I never thought of this but really like the idea; everyone deserves a second chance and some students will take longer to complete an outcome but the goal is simply to complete the outcome, not necessarily all at the same time.

One thing that I have heard often but think is easier said than done, is creating “formative and summative assignments” that are “conceptually aligned” (Shepard, 2006, p. 43). Furthermore, I wonder how much time proper, fair and accurate assessment and evaluation takes. I think it would be best for me to start small and try to implement two proven researched assessment/evaluation practices at a time. I also have to accept that I will get better with practice and time but may need administrative and collegial support at the start.

For more information: Shepard, L. A. (2006). Creating coherent formative and summative assessment practices. Orbit, 36(2), 41.

Chapter 5 and 6 Responses

Davies “Making Classroom Assessment Work”

Chapter 5: Evidence of Learning

  • Sources: observations, products/creations, conversations/conferencing.
  • Triangulation: evidence collected from three different sources over time, trends and patterns become apparent.
  • Need all three types to have reliable/valid evaluation.
  • Observations need to be focused/specific (just like goals).
  • Consider how you will record observations and relate the observation to the purpose of the learning activity.
  • Products/student creations should allow for choice.
  • Conversations/conferencing allows students to self-assess and take ownership of their learning.
  • I think that conversations allow teachers to learn not only about what their students have learned, but also about who their students are as people/learners.
  • Evidence should be ongoing.
  • “Consider assessing more and evaluating less” (Davies, 2011, p. 52).
  • All assessment should relate to curriculum outcomes/indicators/learning purpose.

Chapter 6: Involving Students in Classroom Assessment

  • students to set and use criteria: this gives them control of their learning and a better understanding. Example: classroom rules
  • self-assessment: provides time to learn and process, give feedback to themselves and transition from one activity/class to next; this promotes independence and self-monitoring. Tip: include clear criteria, samples and models.
  • descriptive feedback sources: “The more specific, descriptive feedback students receive while they are learning, the more learning is possible” (Davies, 2011, p. 58).
  • goal setting: increases motivation and sets a learning purpose/focus.
  • students to collect evidence of learning: to increase accountability and ownership. Example: portfolio.
  • students to present evidence of learning: to get students to see themselves as learners and take more accountability of their work. Tip: present to many different audiences.

Reflection

Davies points out that “the ideas themselves are simple, but the implementing of them in today’s busy classrooms will take some time” (2011, p. 61). This statement speaks to me.

Before reading this text and attending this class (ECS 410) I never considered letting students be part of the criteria-building process. I am still curious as to how this would work. Also, I wonder what self-assessment would look like. Other than the odd self-assessment assignment, I have never seen this in action. Davies suggests getting students to assess each other. I have had other professors tell me not to do this because sometimes students give each other wrong advice. How do you teach kids to self-assess appropriately? How much time would this entire process take? Is it more or less work for the teacher? I know that conferencing would take a lot of time so how do you fit that in as a classroom teacher? Do you request students to come outside of classroom time?

Triangulation was also a new topic for me. I think one way I can make sure I am using all sources to evaluate is by simply rotating them. I could have a chart with each source and make a tally every time it is used, in hopes for a balance.

I thoroughly believe in student choice. One quote that my mother, who is also an educator, passed on to me is: “Many teachers teach every child the same material in the same way, and measure each child’s performance by the same standards… Thus, teachers embrace the value of treating each child as a unique individual while instructing children as if they were virtually identical” (Mehlinger, 1995). I think this chapter gives many suggestions to avoid assessing students the same way. Choice is only fair and using triangulation broadens the choices and fairness even more! I also like the idea of creating a portfolio of work and getting students to present this work so that they are accountable.

Three common trends in the text are student-lead learning, more time and more feedback. These are all things I am starting to understand and think I can do!