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- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
Assessment time is stressful for teachers and students, but it is a necessary evil. We need to understand how our students are performing. Professionals are given evaluations at work, companies ask for feedback or send surveys about their product and customer relations, and managers assess employees. You cannot escape assessment. In education we are required to give state assessments to our students. As an educator how can we deal with these requirements? We can teach! Spend the year teaching your children to read, understand, apply, compare, problem solve, evaluate, and think. Care for each of your students and provide them a supportive environment to learn and grow. Do what you love, teach, have fun... and reward your students for their hard work.
In my state we give three assessments at fourth grade. From the end of February through the beginning of April my students are testing with a three-part reading assessment, three-part math assessment, and a two-part science assessment. That is eight assessments!
Students deserve a reward for all of their hard work. We spend time talking about effort, persistence and expectations before testing. What does effort look like? Students can use scratch paper, ask for a question to be read aloud, ask a teacher to listen to them read aloud, get up a take a small break if they notice they are becoming unfocused and we teach simple breathing and yoga exercises students can do while seated at the computer. When testing is over students are rewarded with an activity that fits the test.
The reading test kicks off our assessment marathon, and it is the longest. With many passages to read, poetry to evaluate, and extensive questions about our standards my kids are exhausted with good cause. Students who have shown effort, persistence and hard work get a movie day. We offer a selection of G-rated movies that are all from books. Most of the books have been read aloud, in reading group, or in the library class. Students are usually interested in reading books based on the movies they do not go see as well. We invite them to bring in snacks from home, turn out the lights, and divide groups up based on their movie choice.
After spring break, we are back to work and hitting the math assessment. This beast is different in the intensity, but students use many tools and sift through number sense, fractions, problem solving, estimating measurement, and more. The reward for math is game day. Students can bring a handheld device (rated E for Everyone only) or board games. We also have classroom games, cards games, and school technology available for those without. One teacher brought a Wii from home and set that up in her room. The students are able to wander and play and celebrate completion of another milestone.
Turning around right after the math celebration we hit science. What better reward for science than science day? We set up stations for the students to rotate through by classroom and explore science. We have had create a Rube Goldberg machine, making homemade ice cream, magnets, electric circuits, bubbles, making goop and gack. Anything science related that is hands on works. This is the favorite reward and works well to keep moral high during our last assessment run.
Assessments…it’s almost become a dirty word in education. As educators, what can we do? We can teach! Spend the year teaching your children to read, understand, apply, compare, problem solve, evaluate, and think. Care for each of your students and provide them a supportive environment to learn and grow. Explain your expectations and the purpose of these tests, to see how learning looks in your state. And most importantly, reward your students for the hard work they do. They feel the stress too. Making a caring environment and providing a reward lets them know this work they do is important and you recognize that.