Assessment: 3 Ways to Informally Assess Students

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I am excited to be linking up for week two of the “Back to School” linky hosted by Mrs. D’s Corner and Mrs. V’s Busy Bees!  Each week they will be choosing a new topic to help teachers get ready to go back to school.  It is a ten week linky and we are only on week two so get ready for many more topics!  
Today, it is all about assessment!   
Assessment is a crucial part of our instruction.  Assessment allows us to best meet individual student needs whether that is challenging him/her because he already understands or giving him extra support because he is not grasping the concept    When properly used in a classroom setting, assessment allows teachers to make better use of their time with each child.  
First and foremost let’s answer this question…
In my Guided Math: a Framework for Mathematics Instruction by Laney Sammons, I read about Fountas and Pinnell’s (1996) list of reasons to assess students…
        *Continuously inform instruction and teaching decisions
        *Find out what students can do, both independently and with teacher support
        *Document progress for parents and students
        *Summarize achievement and learning over a given period-six weeks, a year or longer
Again, the list above is not mine but all of the reasons given above help me to realize the significance behind assessment.  At some point, I think, assessment got lumped in with “tests” and “scores.”  Test and scores are certainly a part of assessment; however, assessment is so much more and can truly help transform your teaching to help children succeed.  
Informal assessment is something that I use on a throughout the school day.  The informal assessments listed below are not only a tool for me but students enjoy them as well since they often get to be up walking around and often times, working with peers!
Four Corners:
How it works: Label each corner “a, b, c, and d.”  Ask questions that align with your common core standard.  Allow students time to think about their answer and choose a corner.  When students go to the corner have them pair up with a shoulder partner to explain their reasoning.  Although students will sometimes (often follow) their peers to a certain corner I don’t mind.  I am able to gauge from their explanations if their level of understanding of the question.  
How it works: Let’s pretend we are working on fact families.  I might give students a problem and have them solve.  While they are solving I will walk around the classroom and jot down my notes.  If kids finish early they know that they can show me another fact family to display their knowledge.  
Find Someone Who:
How it works: Students walk around the room with their paper.   They are looking to find other students who know the answers to the questions.  Children will walk around the room with one hand raised high in the air and  “high-five” another child when they find a partner. To learn more about Find Someone Who…please click here.  

I have used all of the above activities as both pre and post-assessments for students throughout the school year. This isn’t the only way I assess students but I do use them throughout the year to check for understanding.  There is much less pressure for kids and students enjoy doing them which allows me to truly see what each child knows.  
In order to make these activities meaningful and useful as a classroom teacher,  it is important that you are tracking students in one way or another.  Whatever you ordinarily use to keep track of student progress works here too!  I used to use notebook-I had a notebook dedicated to math and each child had a page.  I also had a “Random Notes” page.  
If am using one of these activities pretest for  common core standard 1.NBT.A.1 I would get students started then walk around with my notebook listening and checking for student understanding.  In an attempt to be more organized and to track data a little better this year I will be implementing checklists! Whether you use a notebook or a checklist, doesn’t matter it is whatever works for you… as long as your are documenting!  If I don’t write it down as kids are doing these activities by the end of the day, if you are anything like me, when you go to think about the next lesson or organize your guided math groups…you will completely forget because a million and one things happened since!  But if you have your notes jotted down in a notebook or in a binder you are set and ready to go!    
I should mention too that depending on the day, skill, and/or activity I might be watching my whole class or I might be watching a couple of specific kids.  It just depends!  
Here is a freebie to get you started with “Find Someone Who!”  Click here to grab your copy! 
A big thank you again to Mrs. D’s Corner and Mrs. V’s Busy Bees for hosting this fabulous linky!  I can’t wait to go and ready other teacher’s tips and tricks on assessment!  

Happy Wednesday!

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4 thoughts on “Assessment: 3 Ways to Informally Assess Students”

  1. I love your post! I have done the 4 corners activity before, but I really like how you have them EXPLAIN their reasoning behind choosing that answer, why hadn't I thought of that before! I think that really helps you see who is truly knows the answer and who is just following the crowd. I also like that activity because it really gets them moving. I think using the white boards is another great tip. The little kiddos think it's so fun writing on white boards, so anything that is motivation, I'm all for. Thanks for sharing your ideas!
    The Cutesy Teacher

  2. I am IN LOVE with your post! So thorough 🙂 You gave us all a lot of different ways to assess students that are simple, yet effective!

    Thank you for linking up with us! See you at next week's link up.

  3. Great post on informal assessments! Your activities for assessing are a lot of fun and easy to do. I'm like you, I think I will remember what everyone was able to do, but by the end of the day if I haven't written it down it is all jumbled together- must document what each child is doing or I forget!
    Conversations in Literacy


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