Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Classroon-Based Assessment

I know that you have all written report cards in the last few weeks.  Some of you had conferences last week and some are in the thick of it right now (and therefore not reading this!).  As a gesture of solidarity, I want you to know that I have been reading and thinking about: 
Classroom Reading Assessments: More Efficient Ways to View and Evaluate Your Readers by Frank Serafini.

Before you stop reading to send me an email reminding me that reading about assessment is not the same as actually doing the assessments and writing report cards, let me say that you are absolutely right. But here's the thing, it is no longer my job to write report cards so I figure the least I can do is search for ways to make it easier for those who do.

I haven't read the whole book yet, in fact only the preview chapter available online and sent to me by Andrea.  But it is on our list of books to buy because of that chapter.  Serafini describes what he calls the Four Principles of Assessment To Live By:

Classroom-Based Assessments:

1. Must help children learn more effectively

2. Must help teachers teach more effectively

3. Must help teachers articulate their understandings of their students to   
    external audiences

4. Must be efficient so they interrupt teaching and learning as little as

As a list of criteria, this makes sense to me.  The classroom is a busy place and teaching is one of those jobs where the inbox is never empty.  I need to  think carefully about how I use my time and the students' time.  

We are going to use this book with the Literacy Committee in April.  If you want to check out the preview see the link below.

Please note that I am not recommending this as Spring Break reading.  It can wait until April.  :)  For Spring Break I am reading....

(See new additions to shelfari shelf below!)

Happy Spring Break.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Know You Are Out There

I don't know if you had the time to read the comments posted after my Daily 5 entry, but I found them very interesting. From Rene, who I am quite certain sleeps even less than I do, was a link to the work he has done in French, with permission from the Sisters.  If you work in French Immersion, you will want to check this out.  I know from conversations with colleagues who know far more than I do about teaching reading and writing in two languages that teaching similar strategies and structures in both languages is not only time saving for the teacher, but effective for the learner.

I have also received an  email about the application of the Daily 5 to Mathematics instruction.  Apparently they receive this question often and are working on  it.  Thanks to the teacher who sent me the following link:

So far, I am not as impressed as I want to be.  I don't see much of a problem solving stance here and that is what I am looking for. Maybe, the problem solving happens in the lessons with the teacher and the structure is all about differentiation. I know it is early days and I should be patient.  I am practicing patience as I write this.

I asked you if there was interest in getting together with others working with the Daily 5 and for some of you, this was a definite yes.  Andrea and I will consult with the calendar gods and get back to you.  I know that each time I have chatted with a colleague exploring the Daily 5 I have learned something. 

Have you thought about why the Daily 5 is working for you?  It is good that I have found a job that pays me for this kind of thinking because it is where my mind goes anyway.  :)

Andrea and I have shared our thinking about professional decision making using the triple Venn diagram. It shows the intersection between Belief, Essential Influences and Practices.  Usually I struggle to fit everything I want into the 3 circles in a way that makes sense.  Today I discovered something called the 3 Column Venn diagram.  It works like this.  In the two outside columns you describe 2 elements of your topic, in this case, beliefs about teaching and learning and essential influences.  Essential influences are those things that you need to think about or take into account.  In the third, shaded column, are the practices I will choose to use in my classroom.  The practices that are consistent with my beliefs and are supported by the essential influences I need to pay attention to.

Professional Decision Making
Classroom Practices
Essential Influences
-gradual release of responsibility
-differentiating instruction
-kids learn to read by reading, not by doing stuff about reading
-we learn to write by writing
-readers need to have access to   quality literature
-explicit  strategy instruction
-there will be a range of readers in my room, needing different strategies
-reading & writing should be joyful

-          Workshop approach
-          Daily 5

-RETSD Balanced Literacy Framework
- Early Years Position Paper
-provincial curriculum
- Regie Routman optimal learning model: I do it, we do it, we do it, we do it…. you do it.
-Debbie Miller: comprehension instruction
-Kathy Collins: big idea planning

In my beliefs and essential influences I see support for the Daily 5. It is a refinement of my previous Readers' Workshop.  What connections do you make to your beliefs and the essential influences in your teaching life?