“The primary aim of assessment is to foster learning of worthwhile academic content for all students.” – (Wolf, Bixby, Glenn, & Gardner)
The last few weeks I focused my attention on using formal and informal assessment data to drive instruction. To continue this conversation, this week I am taking a look at how pre-assessment data can be used to drive instruction.
When teaching with high expectations as a goal, one important aspect of assessing learners is finding out what the students already know. Many teachers know about using strategies such as Know-Wonder-Learn Charts (KWL) or mind mapping but I am thinking of beyond that as I consider those activities to get your mind focused on a new topic. The type of pre-assessment I am talking about it figuring out the knowledge a student truly has on a subject based on their prior learning and experiences. By doing a pre-assessment of knowledge (verse activity), teachers can plan curriculum and design instruction/lessons to meet the needs of each individual student.
Before a new unit, I assess what the students knowledge is using the same format as I do for formal assessments by using objective/strand boxes in the corners of the test based on our states essential standards and/or the Common Core. I also label each question with an objective/standard, so when I am analyzing the pre-assessment I can see which objectives students have already Mastered (M) Partial Mastered (PM) or Not Mastered (NM). (For an example of an objective box, please see Part 1 of Using Data to Drive Instruction in the Classroom by clicking here http://wp.me/p1LnJp-1h) Once I have analyzed the student’s pre-assessment data using the object/strand box, I start to plan my unit.
I first see which students have mastered all concepts. I then make a curriculum compact; as who would want to sit through a mini-lesson if you already know the information, no one would. So, I make a curriculum compact so that those students extend and enrich their knowledge on the unit that we are learning. For example if we are working on an ecosystems unit, then I would create an ecosystem related project that the students could work on during my mini lessons on their own. (I always give the student the choice before each mini-lesson, as some students might have guessed or maybe they aren’t as confident on a certain part of the unit. This also makes the students responsible for their learning.)
I continue to use the pre-assessment data to drive my classroom instruction by seeing which topic it seems I need to go in more depth and/or which topic can I skip and just pull a small group. I use these questions below to help plan my lesson/unit.
Questions to Ask of Your Lesson Plans
1) Does it meet the needs of all of our students, no matter their level?
2) Does it allow for higher level thinking?
3) Is it without an intellectual ceiling?
4) Does it incorporate or allow for various learning styles?
5) Does it serve an academic purpose? (i.e., full of substance, not fluff)
6) Does it allow students to move forward rather than just regurgitating what they already know?
Next week, I will go into how to use data to motivate students own learning. Please share in the comment section if you, as an educator, have other ways that you use pre-assessment to drive your classrooms instruction.