Assessing and Setting Student Goals
It's a magical time of year. As I waved goodbye to my kindergartners in December 2009, I explained to them about this amazing thing that happens over winter break. It's called "winter break magic!" Students always come back from winter break changed in amazing ways. All of a sudden things have clicked for many students. Teachers are excited to see that students really understand the routines and expectations of the classroom. It's wonderful to see!
Of course, with all these changes teachers are busy assessing their students and determining goals and next steps. Even though our students are very young, I have them assist me in reflecting on their learning and coming up with new literacy and math goals. I really believe in involving students in the assessment and decision making process, as well as allowing them to play an active role in their learning. I've found a lot of success with this approach and have been pleasantly surprised how young students easily and eagerly fall into this role.
Currently, I am in the process of assessing my students on a variety of skills including letter sounds, running records, number recognition, and writing. After I collect this data, I will conference with each student. During our conference we will talk about what they are proud of learning. Then we will talk about what is hard for them in reading, writing, and math. Students will surprise you on how accurate they are! The conversation is very positive and encouraging as well as enlightening for the teacher. It always makes me smile when I hear a kindergartner talking about what they think they need to work on.
During our discussion we determine a literacy and a math goal for the child to work on at school and at home. This goal gets written down on a form to be sent home. I talk with the child about how they could work on that skill and record these and several other ideas to assist parents. The children bring these forms home to get signed and have one copy returned for my files. There is a date on the form when the goal should be met. I make sure to reassess and continue the same routine with goal setting when the child meets the goal.
If you have not involved your students in the assessment and goal setting process, I encourage you to do so. Just being a part of the decision making process is very motivational for students – even at this age. Please write me to share what assessments you use at this time of year and how you get your students involved in their personal goal setting process. I hope to hear from you soon and Happy 2010!