Assessing at the Beginning of the Year: Tips

Assessments at the beginning of the year is one of those things that must be done, yet cause teachers anxiety and headaches.  It gives us valuable information and helps with our planning, but it can be a logistical nightmare.  What do you do with the other 20+ students while you are testing little Johnny or Susie?  Granted, you can test a few during recess (if your school allows that) or maybe even ask parents if they could bring their child in 30 minutes early on a designated day.  But, the bottom line is assessing is necessary but time consuming.

One day I had one of those "I need to work smarter, not harder moments".  Beginning of the year is when we teach our rules and procedures, right?  Why not integrate assessment with that?

We met on the carpet for a mini lesson before we began reading groups and centers.  Each day we reviewed the rules for a different time of the school day.  One day we would go over the rules of the cafeteria and then read the book, the Cafeteria from the Black Lagoon.

Click on picture for more information.

Then we would begin our rotations.  Students began at their table with a response assignment about the story I read.  When they finished with that, they will begin their center tub activity.  While that was going on, I pulled small groups, usually five students at at time.

Here's my "work smarter" idea:

My students are learning our reading block routine, we are learning our rules through the whole group lesson and extension assignment.  

When I pull groups, I assess one student at a time while the others are working on fluency and rules.  One more thing that integrates rules with the lessons.  It's an open-ended activity.  After I finish with one student and am ready to work with the second student, it doesn't matter what part of the activity the second student is at because it is open ended.  It is a win-win for everyone.

Normally, my School Rules fluency center would be too large to have 4 students using their own set at the reading table at the same time.  I didn't want them to work with partners because they would talk and then it would be hard to hear the student I'm working with.  With a little trial and error, I found a way to shrink the phrase cards and organize it in a folder like this:

Click on picture for more information.

If you want to make the School Rules center for your group:

Put half of the tape on each side of the ziplock bag.  I used a quart sized ziplock bag.  

I have tried to use my 3 hole punch to punch holes in ziplock bags before but it wasn't a pretty picture.  So, I measured where I needed to punch my holes and used my single hole punch.  It worked like a charm!

I found sheets of felt with adhesive back at Hobby Lobby.  I cut one inch strips.

I put the strips on the back of a folder.  Then I put velcro circles in half.  I  put the velcro circles on the back of phrase cards.  

I have a series of fluency centers called Sentence Shuffle Centers and Sentence Shuffle Trio Centers that include interactive journal printables.  Students arrange phrase cards to make real and nonsense sentences.  

I wanted to make a smaller version of these so they could be used with a small group or students could take a folder and have everything that they need and take it to their table, desk, or the floor to do the activity.

I printed the phrase cards at 50%.  (You set your printer at 50%.)

By setting the printer at 50% the entire sentence will fit on the back of a folder on the strip.  

I loved the felt and velcro circles.  They helped keep everything in place.

When students finish, they put the phrase cards back in the ziplock back in the folder.

There are also folders with the 3 writing extension assignments in the folder.

Click HERE to check out the preview.

1 comment

Life As I Know It... said...

What a great idea! I just love learning helpful tips from blogger friends!


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