Thursday, November 17, 2011

Enough Already!

     Ok, I get it.  Data drives instruction.  Knowing exactly where our students are is absolutely necessary to make sure we are meeting their needs.  I'll go so far as to agree that there is a need for formal assessments to collect such data, even in kindergarten.  It seems like lately however, there is an overabundance of these assessments.  When we are expected to do pre-assessments, post-assessments, formative assessments, summative assessments, random formal mid-unit check-ins (in my district we call them "dipsticks" which is somehow very funny to me) exactly when are we supposed to teach the skills we are assessing?  When did the measure of learning become more important than the learning itself?  What happened to good, old fashioned authentic teacher observation?  For instance...  The district's way: I should sit across a table from a student, let's call her Suzy, and have her count by tens to 100 so I could check off the little box on her checklist.   My way: I know Suzy has a solid knowledge of counting by tens because on the 44th day of school, she had a vein in her neck that I thought was going to burst as she excitedly explained that we only need 6 more straws to make our next bunch and that it would be our 5th bunch and that means it would be our 50th day of school.  Which tells me more about Suzy as a math learner and how well she understands the concept of counting by 10s?  Or...  The district's way: I'm at the table with Suzy again, and I have to flip through alphabet cards as she dutifully tells me the sound each letter makes.  Another check in another box.  My way:  I let Suzy share with the class the 26 page alphabet book she spontaneously wrote during Writers' Workshop that has a picture to match the letter on each page.  (It was a total masterpiece!) Again, I think my way tells me more about Suzy!
     Now, I realize that it's not always as clear as the picture that Suzy paints, and like I said before, I totally see the benefit of official checklists and formal assessment.  On occasion. When needed.  But I guess it is what it is and I'll continue to fill in the boxes and checklists.  But at the same time, I'm just going to be sure to keep my eyes open for the bursting veins and spontaneous masterpieces...
     Phew!  Thanks for listening to my rant.  Are you over-assessed as well?  I'd love to hear how it is in other districts.  I did find time today to do a completely "non-objective based, never-to-be-formally assessed" project that I thought I would share because sometimes you just need to break out the construction paper and glue and get a little crafty.
     We're having a Thanksgiving feast on Wednesday and since I always tell my class that they're a "bunch of turkeys," we're going to wear these adorable turkey hats made from regular birthday hats. Directions and patterns are under the picture.  I hope you and your little turkeys enjoy them!
Have a great night!

4 comments:

  1. AMEN! I know exactly how you feel about testing and keeping track of all the paperwork. Maybe one day we'll have time to TEACH! :)

    P.S. Love the turkey hats! I'm pinning it!

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  2. Amen and double amen!!!

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  3. I have taught other grades and I believe we assess more in K. And our testing is one to one so it consumes more time. But, I also believe that the children (and parents) will try harder learn what you assess (so be careful what you are assessing, I guess!). We don't assess shoe tying in my class and so very few of my kids can tie their shoes (I know I could tie shoes before kindergarten!). So when you share the data with the parents, they go "Oh! The teacher is testing the kids on how many sight words they have! My kid should learn more." I always have a big jump after conferences.
    Not that it matters. Because, why do they need to read so early anyway? Maybe I need to assess shoe tying! And share that data!

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