Friday, July 07, 2017

Start the school year with holistic assessments

At the start of the school year, it is essential to get to know your students well and build positive relationships. If we rush through this stage, we will never teach as well as we could. In thinking about this today, I'm prompted to list the assessments I'll use to get a good picture of each child so that I can build and promote a holistic, personalized teaching/learning program.

Student Letter
I'll ask each student to write me a letter of introduction. In that letter I'll ask them to tell me about the people they love and live with, the activities they enjoy, their hopes for the school year, and anything else they want me to know about them.

MCAS Scores
I'll look over last year's state standardized MCAS scores to find out, in general, who is considered at grade-level or beyond with regard to state standards, and who is behind. I'll deeply analyze the scores of those students who are behind right away to figure out how we can provide those students with extra supports beginning right away in the school year.

Growth Mindset
Starting with a class meeting and later with more tailored questions, I'll assess students' knowledge and belief in the idea of growth mindset. I'll foster a positive growth mindset throughout the year.

Opportunity and Access
Through informal questioning, family newsletters, and a paper assessment, I'll assess student opportunity related to at-home academic support, technology, WIFI, reading and more. Where students have limited opportunity, I'll look for ways to bridge the gap For example our school has a tech loaner program for fifth grade students who don't have at-home technology.

Early Year Reading, Math, and Facts Assessments
Students will take early year assessments to gauge where grade-level knowledge is strong, and where they need to focus.

Lunch Meetings
I hope to invite small groups of students to have lunch with me at the start of the school year. I hoped to do that this year, but ran out of time due to unexpected start-of-school year events.

The Selfie Project
The initial team project will be The Selfie Project. As an identity project, students will have the chance to take a selfie of themselves and surround that selfie with pictures and words that tell a story about them. There will be the chance to add a short audio segment too. This project will be shared with the whole team including colleagues and families at Back to School Night if there's time.

Parent Paper Survey
We will ask family members to fill out a paper survey with all kinds of logistical information to help us know how to contact family members, and to learn about what family's want to prioritize with regard to their children's school year.

Math Autobiography
All students will write an autobiography of their math learning. I will provide guidance for this autobiography by way of specific questions. I will use Google classroom to collect and organize the biographies, and then use the information in the biographies to inform and build the year's math program.

Team Newsletter
We'll use our initial newsletter to invite team members including students, colleagues, and family members to write us notes about any question or idea. We'll also invite families who are interested to set up early fall conferences.

Happiness Survey/Student Portfolios
Students will set up their showcase portfolios beginning with making cover pages and completing Happiness Surveys.

Online Portfolios
Students online portfolios will begin with a collection including the selfie project and math autobiography.

Social/Comfort Observation and Meetings
Observation in class and at recess will help me to gauge if a child's comfortable with himself/herself and if he/she is happy with regard to friendships and social connections. I'll look for ways to coach students forward and work with family members and students in this regard if needed.

Parent-Student-Teacher Conference
At the first conference I'll share the informal and formal data collection noted above. Family members, students, and teachers will work together to set goals for the school year. The goals will include action plans. This information will be housed in both a student folder and online file.

Essentially during the conference, we'll work together to goal set related to the following categories:
  • Happiness and interests
  • Grade-level academic standards and expectations
  • Social, emotional and physical comfort and needs
  • School year goals and in-school/at-home academic plan or learning path to reach those goals
During the year we'll have a number of opportunities to return to these initial assessments and meeting to gauge progress and make needed additions or revisions.